Guilderland adopts $91M school budget

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

— “I know that the reason it was proposed to be eliminated was because it had been reduced to one person from two and that one person was covering five elementary schools and then it was thought to be enough worth saving,” Barber said. “I don’t like totally eliminating a program, especially one that’s been longstanding and has been successful over the years. Once you totally eliminate something it is really hard to bring back.”

Fellow board member Allan Simpson bluntly asked how the district would pay for it. Barber said “it would raise taxes,” but the district would still be within its tax cap limit.

“If it means that we are not getting this magic 3.39 percent, that is the way it is,” Barber said. “I am less concerned about the exact tax rate — I’m more concerned about keeping as many opportunities for our students as we possibly can.”

Board President Colleen O’Connell argued the program is “only touching a few lives of fourth and fifth graders” and has become “too shallow and too superficial.” O’Connell said this wasn’t the fault of teachers.

“If we had the money … I would fully support restoring it to what was when your (Barber’s) kids and my kids were little, which is 2.5 (FTE),” O’Connell said. “We don’t have the money to restore that.”

Restorations from the superintendent’s proposed budget included one middle school enrichment teacher position, which saved the program; a 0.5 FTE middle school special education teacher; 2.25 FTE special education teaching assistant positions; 1.45 FTE unassigned teaching positions; and the high school’s summer school nurse. All assistant coaching positions were to be cut, along with JV golf, but were also restored.

Several middle school enrichment program students had petitioned the board to not eliminate the program. Parents and students had also pleaded for assistant coaches to be restored.

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