Guilderland adopts $91M school budget

Coaching cuts stayed, enrichment cuts made; tax hike set at 3.4 percent

— Guilderland school officials were able to remove some contentious cuts from next year’s budget with restored state aid, but reductions will still be hitting classrooms.

The Guilderland Central School District Board of Education unanimously adopted a $91 million 2013-14 budget on Tuesday, April 9, that holds a property tax levy increase of 3.39 percent, which is within the district’s state tax cap limit.

The budget increases spending by just under 2 percent, or more than $1.76 million, and reduces staffing by 28.25 full-time equivalent positions. Board members withdrew several proposed reductions after updated state aid estimates injected $374,000 into the revenues column. The district had been facing a $2.1 million budget gap.

“Reductions driven by declining enrollment or a reduced number of sections, as well as those informed by data indicating a decrease in needed services, were enacted first,” Superintendent Marie Wiles said in a statement. “Wherever possible, we avoided reductions proposed only to close the district’s budget gap.”

Wiles stressed the adopted budget maintains the “Guilderland education” valued by the community.

Of the 28.25 FTE positions being cut, 10.4 FTE teachers and 6.75 FTE teaching assistants would be eliminated. Outside of teaching positions, 1.6 FTE administrators and 9.5 FTE district-wide support staff would be eliminated. This school year the district cut 29 positions.

The budget would reduce one house principal at the middle school, which is being implemented as a leadership restructuring initiative following the retirement of a current building principal. This would leave one building principal but reduce the house principals to two, which is estimated to save $125,000.

Enrichment program axed

School board member Catherine Barber opposed eliminating the elementary school enrichment position at a $72,000 savings, but she failed to gain support for the restoration. This reduction eliminates the program after it has faced cuts in past years.

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