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Board of Education adopts $93.7 million spending plan for 2015-16

April 22, 2015—At its meeting on April 21, the Guilderland Board of Education unanimously adopted a $93,689,600 budget for the 2015-16 school year by a vote of 9-0. This proposed budget presents an increase in spending of $1,556,700 (+1.69 percent) over the current year’s budget. If approved by voters on May 19, it would result in a 2.76 percent tax levy increase in the coming year—below the district’s maximum allowable tax levy limit as calculated under the state’s “tax cap” formula. Due to projected assessment growth within the district, tax rates are estimated to increase by less than that amount at 2.12 percent for residents of the Town of Guilderland.

District to see some fiscal relief in coming school year
For the past five years, Guilderland—like districts throughout the state—has faced unprecedented financial challenges. Rising expenses, in combination with the state’s tax levy cap and Gap Elimination Adjustment (learn more about the GEA on page 4), led the district to eliminate 185 full-time equivalent (FTE) positions since 2010. Programs and services were also reduced across the district during that time.

However, this past spring brought some much-needed financial relief, including anticipated total savings of $1,472,000 related to mandated employer contribution rates for the Teachers Retirement System and the Employees Retirement System. In addition, the district received an additional $1.4 million in aid, beyond what was initially projected, as part of the recently adopted state budget.

“After several years of reductions and eliminations, we have a welcome opportunity this year to look at items we haven’t been able to address in recent times due to a lack of resources,” said Superintendent of Schools Dr. Marie Wiles. “District leaders have been meticulously conducting a student-by-student analysis to make sure that resources go exactly where the needs are within the school community. We are also working to shore up our fund balance in a responsible manner.”

The proposed budget addresses changing student needs in multiple areas, restores funding to programs and services reduced in recent budgets, and seeks to put Guilderland on firmer financial footing by rebuilding the district’s fund balance.

In recent years, under challenging fiscal realities, Guilderland has routinely used a portion of its fund balance to preserve programs and services and to help lower the tax impact on district residents. The proposed spending plan looks to add $740,000 back to the district’s fund balance to help replenish the account for future years.

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.

A closer look at the proposed spending plan
While staffing levels will decrease in some areas, included in the proposed budget is the net addition of 16.25 FTE positions spread across all three levels as well as district-wide.

Similar to the superintendent’s budget proposal released in February, the adopted spending plan going before voters in May maintains existing levels of kindergarten and first-grade teaching assistant support as well as existing levels of high school instructional staffing in all areas. The plan also maintains all current assistant coaching positions, late bus runs, high school advisor stipends, and custodial worker support.

Proposed additions include increased English as a Second Language and special education teaching support; additional bus driver and bus attendant support; and the addition of an instructional administrator for special education.

Beyond what was initially considered in the superintendent’s budget, the proposed spending plan includes the replacement of computers in the high school east lab; summer maintenance help; aide/monitor support at the high school; science and technology equipment replacement and repair at the high school; additional health and safety support; increased literacy coaching support at Lynnwood; and the restoration of funds to the freshman sports program.

 

For more information:
The public vote on the 2015-16 budget will be held on Tuesday, May 19, 2015. 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 2015-16 spending plan, as well as the proposed capital improvement proposition, 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

 

 

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