Guilderland school district voters passed the proposed $92.13 million budget, along with a separate proposition to purchase seven new buses and a maintenance plow truck for almost $1 million.
Approximately 66 percent of voters on Tuesday, May 20, supported Guilderland Central School District’s proposed 2014-15 budget, with 1,735 voting in s and 900 opposed, according to unofficial results. The budget holds a property tax levy increase of 1.94 percent, which is $12,500 below the district’s tax cap limit.
Tax rates for Guilderland residents are projected to increase the same as the property tax levy, according to the district.
Superintendent of Schools Marie Wiles could not be reached for comment.
Voter turnout dropped about 150 people compared to last year’s budget vote. This year’s margin of approval was similar to last year, with about 65 percent in favor. The 2013-14 budget did hold a larger property tax levy increase at 3.39 percent, but was also within the district’s tax cap.
Over the past decade, fewer than 3,500 on average annually have cast a ballot, according to the district. This represents less than 15 percent of eligible voters on average actually voting. This year’s turnout fell significantly below that average, with approximately 2,635 people voting, according to unofficial results.
There are 33.85 full-time equivalent positions cut in the budget, which include 8.5 FTE classroom and special education positions, 9.15 FTE teaching assistant positions and 16.2 FTE support staff positions districtwide.
School board members did include 5 FTE unassigned teaching positions in the budget, which district administrators have discretion to allocate based on need.
Music Department teachers have lobbied the district administrators to allocate 0.25 FTE from the unassigned teachers, which would nearly restore the budgeted cut of 0.3 FTE. The teachers claim meeting the needs of students would be difficult after the cut.
“The decision to cut the program is based on inaccurate data and should be reexamined, with both the music supervisor and the staff for clarification,” music teacher Diana Ackner previously said.
Vehicle purchase, board results
District voters also approved purchasing six 66-passenger buses for $694,000, a 66-passenger bus with chains for $120,000, a full-size wheelchair bus for $145,000 and a $36,000 maintenance truck. State aid would cover about 50 percent of the $995,000 purchase, according to district officials.
There were 1,642 votes in favor of the vehicle purchase proposition and 959 voting against it.
State aid would cover about 50 percent of the $995,000 purchase, according to district officials.
Three school board members were also elected to a three-year term in an uncontested race. Incumbents Judy Slack and Allan Simpson respectively received 1,856 and 1803 votes, and newcomer Chris McManus fell in between at 1,839 votes.
Slack and Simpson were both re-elected to their third three-year term. Simpson works as the director of accounting operations for the New York State Insurance Fund. Slack is retired and worked as a teaching assistant for 24 years at from Lynnwood Elementary School.
McManus is the associate budget examiner for the economics and revenue unit of the state Division of Budget. He has lived in the district for two years, with his wife and two children.
Library budget, trustees results
Voters passed Guilderland Public Library’s 2014-15 budget totaling $3.54 million by a margin of 1545 to 1047. The library’s budget increases spending by almost $50,000, or 1.42 percent.
The library’s budget holds a 1.8 percent property tax levy increase, which represents a $62,300 increase, and totals almost $3.44 million.
“I was very pleased that the library budget passed by a healthy margin,” Guilderland Public Library Director Tim Wiles said. “I understand that it’s a little bit better margin than we passed last year. I think we enjoy a nice level of support at this point and time, and hope to pass by a wider margin in the future.”
This was the first library budget vote for Wiles, who took over leadership in January. He said the budget development process was a “great exercise” in prioritizing services, collections and “doing the best” with a budget during tight economic times.
Part of the library’s spending increase was from board members allocated $90,000 towards a newly established a capital reserve fund, which will be used towards anticipated maintenance needs.
Spending reductions were included in portions of the budget, with the largest reduction coming from salary and benefits decreasing $56,700 and totaling almost $2.57 million.
Voters also elected four Library Board of Trustees members out of five candidates, with two incumbents and two new faces securing a seat.
Carolyn Williams, a newcomer, received the most votes at 1,449, according to unofficial results, with longtime board member Barbara Fraterrigo falling close at 1,426 votes. Karen Carpenter Palumbo, another newcomer, received 1,388 votes and incumbent Robert Feller received 1,300 votes.
Carroll Valachovic was not elected and received 1,233 votes, according to unofficial results. Valachovic served as trustee from 2007 to 2012 and was tapped to fill a vacancy from September 2013 to June 30 of this year. She also ran as a write-in candidate in 2012 and lost.