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Guilderland schools facing $2.1M budget gap

District proposes eliminating 31 positions, tax cap falls at 3.5% increase

— Declining enrollment and reduced state aid, along with a reluctance to exceed the tax cap, will leave Guilderland Central Schools District administrators looking for about $2.1 million in cuts for the 2013-14 budget.

Superintendent Marie Wiles presented the district’s draft budget Thursday, Feb. 28. It increases spending by more than $1.5 million, or 1.7 percent, to a total of $90.8 million. Reserves and fund balance usage would total $2.3 million, which is a reduction of $400,000 from this year’s budget. The superintendent’s budget only holds just under $2 million in reductions, but additional cuts or revenue would be needed to stay within the district’s property tax levy limit of 3.5 percent.

Wiles proposed eliminated a total of 31.45 full-time equivalent positions, with 11.35 teacher positions, nine teaching assistants, 1.6 administrative positions and 9.5 support services positions.

“When we work on making these very painful and difficult decisions we always need to have in the forefront our mission,” Wiles said. “We also look at numbers, we look at data … and try to make as best of sense of it as we can to inform our decisions. There is no perfect data that has the magic answer.”

Hearing the public’s input on what is important to maintain and the Board of Education’s priorities helped craft the proposed budget, Wiles said. The district attempts to avoid reductions “simply to close the gap,” but she said there are some reductions proposed solely for that reason.

“We consider the impact of changes on children first,” Wiles said. “We try to preserve educational opportunities whenever possible.”

A remaining elementary enrichment position would be eliminated to save $72,000. Reading support would also be reduced at Guilderland and Pine Bush elementary schools for around $85,000 in savings, and Pine Bush math support would also be reduced 2.5 hours for around a $6,000 savings. Cafeteria monitors would be reduced a total of six hours across three elementary schools for $12,750 in savings.

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