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GCSD: More money, same problems

Additional state aid will be used to cover increasing BOCES costs, gap nearly unchanged

Guilderland students who have taken the “X program,” combing history and English, urge school board members on to not cut the course on Tuesday, April 1. The course was targeted because it requires two teachers for each classroom.

Guilderland students who have taken the “X program,” combing history and English, urge school board members on to not cut the course on Tuesday, April 1. The course was targeted because it requires two teachers for each classroom. Photo by John Purcell.

— Additional state aid was included in the recently adopted state budget, but the Guilderland Central School District budget will remain essentially unchanged.

BOCES recently did an internal review of its special education programming and found the tuition being charged was insufficient to cover actual costs. The adjusted costs for programming — some increasing up to 36 percent and others decreasing up to 36 percent — will cost the Guilderland school district nearly $500,000 more than what was expected for next school year. The additional state aid the district is receiving will increase, but leaves essentially nothing to apply toward restoring programming.

Guilderland Superintendent of Schools Marie Wiles at the school board’s Tuesday, April 1, meeting described the additional BOCES cost as a “significant” amount.

“It came at a time that is pretty difficult since we had already made our plans, but the bottom line is this is something that at this point there really isn’t anything we can do about it,” Wiles said.

She said the district was first notified about the tuition increase on March 14, which led administrators to evaluate what students were being sent to what programs.

Wiles in a statement said the district was thankful for the additional funds, but the 2014-15 budget “will not change significantly.” Without the additional $500,000, the district would have been forced to cut deeper into programming.

“In that sense, we are very fortunate,” Wiles said.

Guilderland school officials said the district would receive an increase of almost $1.04 million, or 4.9 percent, in overall state aid compared to this school year.

School board member Christine Hayes asked Wiles why BOCES would choose to do unexpected increase right before districts adopted a budget.

“It seems like a big inconvenience for everybody,” Hayes said.

Wiles said the “timing is unfortunate” and she believed the timing of the increase was tied to when the problem was noticed.

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