GUILDERLAND Guilderland school district administrators were weary of exceeding the state imposed tax cap and are looking to cut 33 full-time equivalent positions across $1.8 million of reductions.
Superintendent of Schools Marie Wiles presented her proposed spending plan for the 2014-15 school year during a special meeting Thursday, Feb. 27, which totals nearly $91.5 million representing a spending increase of 0.52 percent. Wiles proposed budget keeps the district just under its maximum allowable tax levy increase of 2.17 percent, but the Board of Education will craft the final budget presented to voters. The budget continues cuts to staff including 7.85 full-time equivalent teachers, 9.15 FTE teaching assistants, and 16 FTE support staff members.
“We recognize that this is a multi-year challenge, this is year four of the worst of it, and there really is no end in sight,” Wiles said. “We can’t pretend that we just solve a problem this year and go on our merry way. Because it is a long term problem, there are areas that we will continue to look at.”
Guilderland has cut 146 FTE positions since the Gap Elimination Adjustment was implemented to this school year, which included cutting 12 percent of teachers, 33 percent of teaching assistants, 20 percent of administrators, and 9.5 percent of other staff members.
“These cuts are odious,” Board member Judy Slack said. “There are very few of them that I like.”
Board President Barbara Fraterrigo, while not liking any of the reductions, said administrators had incorporated public feedback and “really reflects community concerns.”
Wiles said some of the budget reductions, along with increases, were tied to enrollment or participation levels of students. Several reductions though were aimed at staying within the tax cap limit.
“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,” Wiles said in a statement. “Wherever possible, we avoided reductions proposed only to close the district’s budget gap.”