GCSD Board of Education adopts 2024-2025 proposed budget

By a vote of 6-1, the Guilderland Central School District Board of Education adopted a $125,192,817 budget for the 2024-2025 school year during their Tuesday, April 16 meeting. This represents a 4.53% increase in the tax levy, which is below the district’s maximum allowable tax levy limit, as defined by New York State’s tax levy cap legislation.

This spending plan is a result of the district having listened and responded to the school community’s priorities and needs. Through an online survey, families, community members, faculty, staff and students identified maintaining low class sizes, expanding extracurricular activities and focusing on academics as the priorities they believe best contribute to student success. 

Voters to decide on four propositions

In addition to voting on the budget proposition, Guilderland residents will be asked to decide on the following propositions.

School Bus Proposition

The district is proposing to purchase gas school buses and maintenance vehicles at a total cost of $1,281,000. The purchase would include six 65-passenger buses, three with chains and three without, one 24-passenger  wheelchair bus, a maintenance truck and a skid steer. The new buses will replace aging vehicles in the transportation fleet.

Electric Vehicle Proposition 

CSD is proposing the purchase of two zero-emission electric vehicles (EVs), one 30-passenger school bus and one-65 passenger school bus, and one Level-2 charger. The proposal is for a total cost of $407,500. Under the recently enacted state budget, the district will receive this full amount in transportation aid as it repays the bond. There is NO projected net cost to the district for this purchase.

Why purchase electric vehicles?

New York State has mandated that by 2027 any school bus purchases made by districts must be zero-emission vehicles and by 2035 all buses in operation must be zero-emission. To begin to address this mandate, GCSD is proposing the purchase of two electric vehicle school buses.

Why now?

To operate EVs there are many considerations for the district, including infrastructure and capacity. By adding two EVs to the fleet, the district would gain valuable experience and information. The transportation department would be able to evaluate how the EVs will perform under specific conditions, such as in cold weather or on hilly terrain, and mechanics and bus drivers would learn while testing the vehicles on the district’s bus routes.

How will it be paid for?

To defray the cost difference between purchasing a conventional school bus and an electric bus, GCSD will take advantage of a NYS incentive voucher program. The voucher is awarded directly to the vehicle dealer, significantly reducing the district’s cost.

There is an additional way the district can lower costs. If a district uses the incentive voucher, the state will still provide aid on the full price of the vehicle. This makes up for the district’s net cost.

If purchasing one large EV bus, one small EV bus and one Level-2 charger, the district would get back the full amount paid in aid, therefore the net cost to the district would be $0.

List Price Anticipated State Incentive Anticipated Transportation Aid Net Cost to the District
One 30-passenger EV school bus $338,472 $171,000 $167,472 $0
One 65-passenger EV school bus $451,706 $220,500 $231,206 $0
One Level-2 charging station $8,806 $8,806 $0 $0

Cobblestone Schoolhouse Proposition

The district proposes the transfer of a one-room, cobblestone schoolhouse, built in 1860, to the Town of Guilderland for $10,000. Because the property is not being sold at market value, a vote is required. The district has agreed to sell the historic structure, which requires much maintenance and upkeep, to the town so that it will be preserved for community use. The town will have access to grant funds to support this work.

Budget development update

At the board meeting, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Marie Wiles and Assistant Superintendent for Business Dr. Andrew Van Alstyne provided the board with a summary and an update to the budget development process. 
After the draft budget presentation on Mar. 5, additions were made to the spending plan. These changes were based on several factors, including community feedback as well as new information that became known to the district during the budget development process. 
  • GHS comprehensive skills section: $87,900
  • Girls’ flag football: $12,500
  • Maintenance and facilities costs: $74,020
  • Updated electricity costs, based on data from New York School and Municipal Energy Consortium: $98,000
  • Additional BOCES commitments, including fire safety service: $46,361
  • General insurance premium:$3,923
Dr. Wiles elaborated on the following additions to the budget:
Additional Altamont Elementary School kindergarten section. Currently 53 students are registered for two kindergarten sections at Altamont Elementary School for the 2024-2025 school year. This number exceeds the district’s limit of 23 students for kindergarten. Dr. Wiles proposed adding to the 2024-2025 budget funding for an additional kindergarten section to maintain lower class sizes. By funding this additional section now, GCSD will preserve four unassigned FTEs for use in other sections across the district when needed throughout the school year.
Transfinder. By utilizing Transfinder, a school bus routing software program, to create bus routes, the district anticipates conservatively saving $100,000 in contract transportation costs. These savings will greatly offset the cost of purchasing the software program.

Residents will elect three board of education members

The Guilderland community will elect three members to the board of education on May 21, 2024. As a result of the resignation of GCSD Board President Dr. Seema Rivera, who was elected to the New York State Board of Regents, one term will begin on May 22, 2024 and end on June 30, 2027.

This seat will be filled by the candidate who receives the highest number of votes and who is not an incumbent GCSD board of education member.

The two remaining seats will be filled by the two candidates, regardless of whether or not they are incumbents, who receive the next two highest vote totals; their terms carry a three-year term beginning on July 1, 2024.

Budget vote day is May 21

Polls will be open from 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., at the elementary school in the voter’s residential zone. Qualified voters who wish to vote by absentee ballot must submit an application to the district clerk at least seven days before the vote if the ballot is to be mailed, or the day before if the ballot is to be picked up at the district office. Click here for more information and the absentee ballot application.
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