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GUILDERLAND—On Tuesday, April 17, The Guilderland Central School District Board of Education adopted a $100.9 million budget proposal for the 2018-19 school year, which is an approximately $2.4 million increase, or 2.48 percent over the current year.
If approved by voters in May, it would result in a 2.22 percent tax levy increase in the coming year—just below the district’s maximum allowable tax levy limit of 2.23 percent. Due to projected assessment growth within the district, tax rates are estimated to increase by 1.97 percent for residents of the school district.
Under the proposed levy, district residents in the Town of Guilderland would pay an estimated $23.07 per $1,000 of assessed home value. District residents in Bethlehem would pay $17.44, those in New Scotland would pay $17.79 and those in Knox would pay $29.06. (Those numbers may change after assessment levels and equalization rates are released in August.)
Facing a revenue gap that officials say was due to the state’s continued failure to fund schools at legally mandated levels, the district was able to find some savings in reduced debt service payments and out-of-district transportation costs for students with disabilities as well as increased energy efficiencies. To make up the rest, the budget proposal would make use of $849,500 in the district’s reserve fund balance, which is currently at $3.9 million, according to GCSD Assistant Superintendent of Business Neil Sanders.
The proposed budget would maintain current academic programming at all three levels, provide additional staffing for reading to support students at the elementary level, provide additional classroom teachers at the elementary level to maintain class sizes within guidelines, and add a second permanent building substitute for Guilderland High School. It would also create a new American Sign Language elective at Guilderland High School, and restore two Advanced Placement courses in English and Computer Science.
The proposed budget would also create a school-based mental health clinic, in partnership with Capital Region BOCES and Parsons Child and Family Center/Northern Rivers, to serve Guilderland students and their families, and provide funding for additional special education teachers at the high school and elementary levels “to support co-teaching.”
On Tuesday, May 15, district voters will also decide on a ballot proposition and elect Board of Education members.
The ballot proposal is for the purchase of new school buses and equipment at a total cost of $1,117,700. The purchase would include eight 66-passenger buses, one 60-passenger wheelchair bus, one transportation minivan, and one large track mower to be used for district maintenance. The new buses will replace vehicles that are 11 years old and have logged an average of 130,000 miles each. Approximately 50 percent of the bus purchase would be returned to the district in the form of future state aid, according to the district, reducing the cost to local taxpayers by $532,600. The new mower would replace a 2003 model used for mowing at all seven school locations. The entire cost of the purchase would be bonded and paid back over five years beginning in the 2019-20 school year.
Voters will select four board members to fill three 3-year terms and one 2-year term. For complete biographies on all four candidates, please visit www.guilderlandschools.org. The candidate with the lowest total of votes will fill the 2-year term.
Additionally, a “Meet the Candidates” night will be held on Wednesday, May 9, at Guilderland High School, 8 School Road, Guilderland Center.
Voting will take place between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m. on Tuesday, May 15, at all district elementary schools.