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Niskayuna schools start tackling $6M budget gap

Superintendent outlines mandates at budget forum, public requests numbers

Matthew Bourgeois (second from left), assistant superintendent for Business at Niskayuna schools, addresses a question from an audience member at the district’s first budget forum.

Matthew Bourgeois (second from left), assistant superintendent for Business at Niskayuna schools, addresses a question from an audience member at the district’s first budget forum. Photo by John Purcell.

— The length of a school year must be 180 days and the district offers 182 student days, with an additional five days for teachers that include professional development.

Mandated transportation requirements are also far exceeded by the district. The state requires kindergarten to eighth grade students living more than 2 miles from school to be offered transportation. For high school students the state extends the limit to 3 miles.

Niskayuna offers transportation to all students except Van Antwerp students living within a half-mile of the school (90 students) and high school students living within one mile of the school (210 students).

Many people in attendance said they had trouble offering suggestions because they were unsure of the costs associated with programming.

Steve Markham, father of a Glencliff student, said he has noticed over the last several years some line items have increased much more than others. He said the district should focus on cutting down budget items that consistently grow compared to areas with only minimal growth each year.

“Some line items are really shortsighted and it is going to make us have painful discussions every year,” Markham said. “Let’s just do the painful thing once.”

Concerns were also expressed about increasing class sizes at the elementary level.

The district is conducting a community budget survey that is open through Friday, Jan. 24, and is available on the district’s website or by clicking here. At the board’s next meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 22, district officials will present information about the baseline budget and anticipated state aid to the district. A decision on the middle school configuration is expected at the board’s Jan. 22 or Feb. 5 meeting.

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