2014-15 budget approved by voters
On Tuesday, May 20, Guilderland Central School District residents approved a $92,132,900 budget for the 2014-15 school year by a vote of 1736 (yes) to 901 (no). This budget represents a 1.22 percent increase in spending over the current year’s budget and will result in a 1.94 percent tax levy increase for district residents. Tax rates are estimated to increase by the same amount for residents of the Town of Guilderland.
Voters also approved a $995,000 bus and equipment proposition to purchase seven new buses and one maintenance plow truck by a vote of 1642 (yes) to 960 (no) and elected three members to the Board of Education. Election results are as follows:
- Judy Slack (1856 votes)
- Chris McManus (1840 votes)
- Allan Simpson (1804 votes)
Board of Education adopts $92 million spending plan for 2014-15
April 9, 2014—At its meeting on April 8, the Guilderland Board of Education unanimously adopted a $92,132,900 budget for the 2014-15 school year by a vote of 9-0. This proposed budget represents an increase in spending of $1,109,700 (+1.22 percent) over the current year’s budget. If approved by voters on May 20, it would result in a 1.94 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. Tax rates are estimated to increase by the same amount for residents of the Town of Guilderland.
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. LEARN MORE ABOUT SOME OF THE FACTORS IMPACTING NYS SCHOOLS
Aid restored in the recently adopted state budget will lessen, but not end the financial challenges for public schools. While Guilderland will see a $1,039,171 or 4.9 percent increase in overall state aid in 2014-15 compared to the current school year, the district will also lose $3.1 million in aid that was promised to the district through the state’s Gap Elimination Adjustment, or GEA.
“The GEA continues to be the single biggest financial issue facing schools today,” said Superintendent of Schools Dr. Marie Wiles. “Without it, Guilderland would not have a budget gap. At the rate the GEA is being restored, it will take seven years for the district to be ‘whole’ again.”
Still, despite declining revenues, the proposal going before voters in May maintains nearly all existing learning opportunities and extracurricular programs for students and even adds in new services such as distance learning, enrichment mini-courses and regional summer school.
“When students return to school next September things really will not look all that different despite $1.8 million in reductions,” said Wiles. “This is thanks to the hard work of our school leaders and our talented faculty and staff, who will help us deliver programs and services in new and creative ways so as to not lose any learning opportunities for our children.”
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
In order to preserve programs in the face of declining resources, administrators at all levels reviewed their current program needs and expenses and recommended ways to use available resources more efficiently. As a result, the budget going before voters on May 20 proposes the reduction of 33.85 full-time equivalent (FTE) staffing positions including 8.50 FTE classroom and special area teaching positions; 9.15 FTE teaching assistant positions; and 16.20 FTE support staff positions spread across all three levels (elementary, middle, and high school) 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 (learn more on page 3); and calls for a restructuring of the high school “X” program, which utilizes a co-teaching model to integrate English and social studies into one class.
While very similar to the superintendent’s proposal presented to the community in February, the budget adopted by the board last month includes an additional 2.0 FTE unassigned teaching positions for the upcoming school school. The spending plan also allocates an additional $479,000 to address the recent realignment of BOCES special education tuition rates and an increase in the district’s need for special education services.