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Click on the "Play" button above to watch a replay of the Superintendent's budget proposal presentation (Part I)
 
Click on the "Play" button above to watch a replay of the Superintendent's budget proposal presentation question and answer period (Part II). The budget presentation will also be rebroadcast in its entirety on Channel 16 on Thursdays (12 p.m.), Mondays and Fridays (3 p.m.) and Sundays (7 p.m.).

Superintendent's 2014-15 budget proposal released on Feb. 27

Feb. 27, 2014—At a special meeting held earlier tonight, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Marie Wiles shared a proposed spending plan for the upcoming school year with the Board of Education and community that includes nearly $1.8 million in reductions to help balance the district’s budget in light of increasing costs and decreasing revenue while also maintaining nearly all existing programs and services.

The budget proposal, totaling $91.5 million, represents a 0.52 percent increase in spending and would result in an estimated tax levy and tax rate increase of 2.17 percent for district residents—just under the district’s maximum allowable tax levy limit as calculated under the state’s “tax cap” guidelines.

“For the fourth consecutive year, we have had to make some incredibly difficult choices in order to maintain the overall integrity of our educational program,” said Wiles. “Despite our continued efforts to restructure and rethink how we provide services, the simple fact is that we are just not getting adequate funding from the state and as a result, we continue to struggle to balance the budget without sacrificing the future of our schools.”

Guilderland would see a 1.98 percent increase in general operating state aid under the Governor’s budget proposal, which was released on Jan. 21. While this is a $174,595 increase in state funding from the current year, the district is slated to lose $3.5 million in state aid promised through the state’s Foundation Aid formula to the Gap Elimination Adjustment, or GEA.

“Since the GEA was first enacted four years ago, the district has lost more than $16 million in promised aid,” said Wiles. “It is not realistic that schools can continue to operate at the levels to which communities expect and deserve with these kinds of losses.”

The anticipated GEA for next year, combined with rising costs and a limited ability to raise revenues under the tax levy cap, has created a $2.1 million budget gap for the district heading into 2014-15. Several cost factors, including health insurance rates, came in lower than expected and helped the district avoid having to make reductions for the full amount of the gap.

A closer look at the proposed spending plan

Included in the proposal is the reduction of 33.85 full-time equivalent (FTE) positions, including 8.50 FTE teachers, 9.15 FTE teaching assistants, and 16.20 FTE support staff spread across all three levels as well as district-wide. The budget also calls for the reduction of kindergarten teaching assistant support  from six hours per day to three hours per day.

The proposed spending plan maintains existing levels of first grade teaching assistant support, high school guidance counselor support, and assistant coaching positions; increases reading teacher support at the elementary level; introduces BOCES enrichment mini-courses at the elementary and middle school levels and distance learning classes at the high school; maintains existing levels of high school guidance support; and calls for a restructuring of the high school “X” program.

“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. Wherever possible, we avoided reductions proposed only to close the district’s budget gap,” said Wiles.

For a complete list of proposed changes included in the Superintendent’s budget, as well as the rationale behind each recommendation, please view the links below:

Download the PowerPoint presentation (PDF)

View the budget proposal rationale sheets (PDF)

View the draft budget document (PDF)

View supporting material for the draft budget document (PDF)

 

Next steps
At this point in time, none of the items identified for possible change as part of the Superintendent’s 2014-15 budget are final. In the days and weeks following the Feb. 27 meeting, members of the Board of Education will analyze and discuss the list of potential changes brought before them and work to adopt a final spending plan. Included in the process is also community feedback, which the Board and district leaders welcome.

Community members are encouraged to learn more about the changes included in the proposal, attend upcoming Board of Education meetings, and submit their feedback and questions by phone, e-mail, via the budget feedback form located on the district website, or during “public comment” sessions at any regularly scheduled meeting of the Board.

The Board of Education is set to adopt a final budget for the upcoming school year on April 8, and the plan will go before district voters for approval on May 20. A newsletter will be mailed home to all district residents in early May containing details of the adopted spending plan.

 

 

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