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GCSD budget gap shrinks to $2.6M

Guilderland releases list of potential cuts to school budget

— The Guilderland Central School District has released a list of possible program eliminations and position reductions to help reduce the $2.6 million deficit the district faces for the 2012-13 school year.

Options include increasing class sizes, switching the Farnsworth Middle School to an 8-hour day, reducing the number of classes and class sections available to students and making cuts to special education classes and staff. The list also includes the reduction of close to 50 full time equivalent positions, with some teachers and staff having hours cut rather than the jobs completely eliminated.

The list of options were released at a community conversation event called “Tough Times: Tougher Choices” on Tuesday, Feb. 7. The released list was called a guide of all possible options the district could take for the sake of community feedback. The actual budget proposal must be presented by March 1.

Neil Sanders, Guilderland Central assistant superintendent for business, said many of the options were listed based on student needs. He explained over the past decade, enrollment at the school has declined and data-driven budgeting was preformed to create the list.

“There’s nothing really off the table at this point. We have a significant gap to close,” he said, explaining everything from art, music, staff support services, transportation, maintenance, technology, sports and special education is listed. “We had to take a broad look at whole education administration.”

In the last two school budgets, close to 95 positions have been eliminated. Some proposals for next year include elimination of the fourth grade band and orchestra programs, elimination of the elementary and middle school enrichment program and the reduction of a number of teaching assistants.

The deficit has lessened slightly since the last community conversation held by the district in January. The previous gap estimate had been $3.3 million but Superintendent Marie Wiles said contributions to the teacher’s retirement system ended up being less than previously estimated.

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