Guilderlands schools face $3.3M budget gap

District kicks off budgeting with a community conversation

— Additionally, Wiles reported to the school board a leadership study recommending the elimination of two administrative positions.

Following these presentations, residents formed six working groups to discuss four issues: is the community ready to accept a data-driven budget; is the community ready to accept changes to school schedules and the leadership structure; is the community willing to invest in technology with limited resources; and why has the school district struggled to pass budgets with at least 60 percent support?

Each working group had a facilitator from the BOCES program. The facilitators then presented some of the results of the group discussions.

BOCES’ Michele Kelly reported for her group.

“The school should consider new sources of funding, some suggestions being obtaining sponsorship from local businesses, seeking donations of technology equipment and expertise from outside the school and assigning a school marketing class to solicit funds,” said Kelly.

BOCES’ John Noetzel presented the results from his group. “We don’t want to fall behind in the use of technology,” said Noetzel.

His group also suggested that there is a credibility problem with voters when the budget comes up for a vote. Some voters believe the benefits available to the school staff are much more generous than those offered in the private sector.

Other matters discussed by residents were a low voter turnout and a lack of transparency in the budget process. Others said the district has too many administrators.

Colleen O’Connell, president of the school board, wrapped up the session by saying that the process is long and will continue. The next community conversation will take place on Tuesday, Feb. 7.

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