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GCSD draft budget restructures classes

Sports, clubs maintained, 30 employees face reduced hours

— Facing a deficit of nearly $2.6 million, Guilderland Central School District Superintendent Marie Wiles presented her draft budget for the 2012-2013 school year at a special Board of Education meeting held on March 1.

To close the gap, options suggested in the draft budget include switching the Farnsworth Middle School to an 8-hour day, reducing the number of class sections available to students in the high school and increasing the number of sections art and music teachers instruct per day. The budget would also have an impact on close to 30 full-time equivalent positions, with some teachers and staff having hours cut, rather than their positions completely eliminated.

“I think the board and the community were certainly not happy with the need to make reductions, but they were pleased with the amount of information we presented and for providing our reasons for putting those items in the budget or not,” said Wiles after the meeting.

The budget presented on March 1 was markedly different from the list of options presented in February. Wiles said the options previously described came from department heads, who she charged to reduce $750,000 at each level of education.

“We didn't need all of those reductions,” she said. “We took the ones that restructured our leadership roles and because we took those, tried to stop arbitrary reductions.”

Options not included in the budget but previously discussed were increasing class sizes for elementary students, eliminating foreign language and computer classes at the high school level and reverting to half-day kindergarten. Also, no coaching, media, or custodial positions are eliminated in the draft budget.

“We want to preserve programming as best as we can and that means we need to be creative with how we employ people and maximize all the time available to us from our staff,” said Wiles.

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