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Superintendent releases 2016-17 budget proposal

March 4, 2016—At the March 3 Board of Education meeting, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Marie Wiles shared a proposed spending plan for the upcoming school year with board members and the community that aims to strike a balance between the district's mission and available resources.

The budget proposal, totaling $95,023,100, represents a 1.42 percent increase in spending and would result in an estimated tax levy increase of 1.35 percent for district residents—just under the district’s maximum allowable tax levy limit as calculated under the state’s “tax cap”
guidelines.

In the budget, revenues that rely on a still-unclear state aid picture and a limited ability to raise revenues under the tax levy cap have been offset in part by cost savings due to enrollment and reduced costs in areas of retirement, debt service and fuel expenditures. The proposed budget would also use $470,000 of fund balance to provide a balanced spending plan.

"Student needs are our first order of business. We have sought feedback from the community on how to best meet those needs in the coming year," said Wiles. "This budget proposal reflects the community’s dual desire to maintain student programming and do so within the tax cap.
“With modest use of our fund balance, we are able to accomplish that goal and consider targeted additions in program areas that are most in need," she added.

For the second year in a row, the district is looking at some cost relief ($720,000) in the form of anticipated savings related to required employer contribution rates for the Teachers Retirement System and the Employees Retirement System.

"Without these lower costs and some savings derived in other areas, we would be further challenged to provide for our students next year," said Wiles. “While retirement contributions will be reduced, approximately $1.37 million is still being withheld from the district through the state’s Gap Elimination Adjustment under the Governor’s proposed state budget.”

A closer look at the proposed spending plan

While staffing levels would decrease in some areas, included in the proposal is the net addition of 5.3 full-time equivalent (FTE) positions that includes a 5.6 FTE reduction at the elementary level to reflect enrollment changes and also includes addition of 1.4 FTE teachers at the middle school and 3.4 at the high school. The budget also includes 5.0 FTE teaching assistants, 0.6 FTE support staff among three schools, and 7.8 FTE for pupil services throughout the district.

The proposed spending plan would maintain all current programs and services for students and includes a few additions to programs and services based on new mandates, district priorities, and/or recommendations from program leaders.

Proposed additions include added clerical/security monitor support at Altamont and Guilderland elementary schools and at Farnsworth for two hours each day; five additional teaching assistants at the elementary level to ensure 1:1 support for students who need it; a Special Education Teacher at Altamont to meet the needs of students with IEPs; 2.4 new English as a New Language (ENL) teachers to meet needs of expanding ENL population and meet state required mandates; smaller class sizes in art, music, and add two Special Education teachers at the high school to support students with disabilities in Regents classes.

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)

Submit your feedback on next year's budget

visit the district budget page for more information

Next steps

At this point in time, none of the items identified for possible change as part of the Superintendent’s 2016-17 budget are final. In the days and weeks following the March 3 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.

On Tuesday, March 8, there will be a formal opportunity to ask questions about the proposed 2016-17 budget during the “Budget Update” portion of the regular Board of Education meeting.

The community will have an opportunity to submit emailed question and comments regarding the proposed budget. Link to the Budget Feedback form.

A special Community Conversation has also been scheduled for Tuesday, March 22 from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. in the High School LGI room. The session will allow district stakeholders and opportunity to identify priorities for further changes to the budget.

The Board of Education is set to adopt a final budget for the upcoming school year on April 12, and the plan will go before district voters for approval on May 17. A newsletter will be mailed home to all district residents in early May containing details of the adopted spending plan..

 

Click below to watch the Superintendent's Budget Presentation

 

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