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Board of Education adopts $91 million spending plan for 2013-14

April 10, 2013—At its meeting on April 9, the Guilderland Board of Education unanimously adopted a $91,023,200 budget for the 2013-14 school year by a vote of 9-0. The budget, which represents an increase in spending of $1,763,340 (+1.98 percent) over the current year, would result in a 3.39 percent tax levy increase in the coming year--under the district's maximum allowable tax levy limit as calculated under the state's "tax cap" guidelines. Tax rates are also estimated to increase by the same amount. The plan will now go before district residents for a public vote on May 21, 2013.

Facing a budget gap of $2.1 million heading into next year, district officials were challenged to produce a balanced budget in the face of unprecedented economic challenges including rising costs, reduced education aid and the state's property tax levy limit.

"For the fourth consecutive year, our district has had to make incredibly difficult decisions about our program based in part on many factors outside of our control," said Superintendent of Schools Marie Wiles. "Today's economic environment is challenging districts throughout the state in ways we've never seen before, and making the balancing act between meeting our mission and being mindful to our taxpayers a very delicate one." Learn more about some of the factors impacting NYS schools

To help guide their work in the budget planning process, district leaders relied on a careful analysis of data, enrollment, and student needs and interests which ultimately led to the final plan adopted by the Board of Education. The district also weighed the feedback of the community, as gathered through multiple public meetings as well as through e-mails and calls received by school leaders and members of the Board throughout the past several months.

"Guilderland is committed to providing our students with the programs and services necessary for their long-term success, in both good financial times and bad," said Wiles. "We believe that the spending plan adopted by the Board last evening will enable the district to meet its mission in a way that is financially responsible to our school community. It will allow us to successfully continue the tradition of a 'Guilderland education' that our residents have come to value and expect."

A closer look at the proposed spending plan

Included in the proposal is the reduction of 28.25 full-time equivalent (FTE) positions, including 10.4 FTE teachers, 6.75 FTE teaching assistants, 1.6 FTE administrators, and 9.5 FTE support staff spread across all three levels (elementary, middle, and high school) as well as district-wide. The budget also calls for the reduction of one house principal at the middle school and the elimination of the elementary FTE in the enrichment program—topics widely discussed at Community Conversation events held earlier this year.

"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," she Wiles. "Wherever possible, we avoided reductions proposed only to close the district's budget gap."

With news late last month that Guilderland would be receiving an additional $374,095 in state aid, the Board of Education elected to add back in several items initially slated for reduction in the superintendent's budget proposal. These include: 1.0 FTE middle school enrichment teacher position; 0.5 FTE middle school special education teacher; 2.25 FTE special education teaching assistant positions; 1.45 FTE unassigned teaching positions; GHS summer school nurse; JV golf; and all assistant coaching positions.

In addition, the proposed spending plan maintains existing levels of teaching assistant support for kindergarten; the Instructional Support Team position at the middle school; a grade six common core teaching position as well as existing levels of grade six technology and special areas; advanced placement and elective opportunities at the high school; and the existing "in-house" model for physical therapy services. The budget also restores the high school "X" program to its original capacity of two sections per grade level.

How is a proposed 3.39 percent increase within the cap?
Now in its second year, New York’s property tax levy “cap” has often been referred to as a “2 percent cap” on taxes by some politicians and the media. However, this is incorrect. The law does not restrict any proposed tax levy increase to 2 percent—or any other amount. Instead, the legislation requires each school district in the state to calculate its own tax levy limit to determine what level of voter support is necessary for budget approval. The figure “2 percent” (or the rate of inflation, if less) is just one of eight variables that factor into each district’s calculation of its individual tax levy limit as prescribed by law.

Under the state's calculation, for 2013-14 Guilderland Central School District has a lax levy limit plus exclusions of $65,597,942. This is our maximum allowable levy limit to pass the budget with a simple majority of voters (50 percent + 1).

The tax levy proposed in the recently adopted budget is $65,517,950 -- less than what the district is allowed to propose if seeking a simple majority for the passage of its budget. That is why even with the proposed 3.39 percent increase in the tax levy for next year, the district is within the property "tax cap" limit according to the law. Learn more about the property tax levy limit


For more information:
The public vote on the 2013-14 budget will be held on Tuesday, May 21, 2013. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. at all district elementary schools.
View more voter information

Additional information about the proposed 2013-14 spending plan, as well as the proposed bus proposition and Board of Education candidates, will be mailed home to all district residents in early May as part of the special addition budget newsletter.
To learn more now, visit our School Budget News home page