Nisky schools facing tough cuts

Heavy staffing reductions, kindergarten class size increases eyed

— Niskayuna Central School District officials have tallied more than $4 million in reductions for the 2012-13 budget, but a little more must be cut to stay within the tax cap.

The Niskayuna Board of Education, along with district officials, discussed proposed reductions for next school year’s budget during its meeting on Tuesday, March 20. Superintendent Susan Salvaggio outlined the 41 reductions proposed for the district, which includes eliminating more than 80 full-time equivalent positions calculated from rough estimates. The district is still determining the exact amount of positions slated for elimination.

“From the very start of this conversation about the budget … it has been the goal of the administrative team to try and show the board what living within the tax threshold would look like and what it would require,” Salvaggio said.

Even with the currently proposed level 1 cuts, the district still needs to cut another $36,000 to remain under its tax levy threshold of 3.29 percent. Level 2 reductions, which are not recommended by Salvaggio, include closing either one of five elementary schools or a middle school, which respectively is estimated to save $475,000 or $615,000.

Staffing to enrollment districtwide accounts for the largest amount of reductions totaling nearly $2.36 million, or 58.2 percent of all reductions. Reducing 800 hours per week for teaching assistants will save $450,000, which is around 26 FTE positions. Middle school staffing would also be reduced by 8.7 FTE positions for $478,500 in savings. Also, high school staffing would be reduced by 7.7 FTE positions based on course enrollment for $423,500 in savings.

Senior student and Vice President of Model United Nations Kristjan Salasoo said the club typically attends two conferences each year, but because of new policies regarding field trips, this year’s trip could be the club’s last.

“While I agree we all must share in filling in the budget gap, this is not the way to go about doing it,” Salasoo said. “These conferences are extremely educational and provide great experiences for our students. I would argue that they involve the same amount of work, if not more, as the semester class.”

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