GUILDERLAND — On Tuesday, May 16, Guilderland Central School District residents will head to the polls to vote on a $98.5 million budget for the 2017-18 school year.
The proposed budget, adopted by the Board of Education on April 11, includes an increase in spending of approximately $1.9 million, or 1.96 percent, over the current year’s budget. If approved by voters, it would result in a 2.11 percent tax levy increase, which is 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 expected to increase by less than 1 percent for residents of the school district.
The 2017-18 budget does not reduce or cut any programs or services to students. More than two-thirds of expenditures would pay salaries and benefits for district employees, slightly more than 2 percent will pay for equipment and supplies and the rest will pay for contracted services, debt payment and BOCES payments.
The proposed budget would add nearly three full time teachers at the elementary level and two each at the middle and high schools, the salaries partially offset by expected reductions in substitute teacher payments.
At the board meeting on April 11, district residents voiced concern about the elimination of an occupational therapy assistant, which would drop the total number to three occupational therapists and two therapy assistants district-wide. Noting that assistants have considerably less autonomy than therapists do, GCSD Superintendent Marie Wiles said, “ We’re really quite confident that, between our existing occupational therapists and remaining occupational therapy assistants, we can meet all of the needs of the kids.”
If an additional need arises, she added, that could be addressed by utilizing one of a handful of “unassigned” positions built into the budget.
Another concern was the elimination of $35,000 to pay for repairs to stabilize the historic Cobblestone School House at 479 Main St. in Guilderland Center.
Assemblywoman Patricia Fahy, Guilderland Supervisor Peter Barber and a number of other district residents urged board members to consider restoring the funding, originally included in Wiles’ proposed budget but stripped by board members who argued that the district is not in the business of historic preservation. After discussing the matter, the board ultimately voted to restore the funding.
Other expenditures include $150,000 to repair a second elevator at the middle school and $125,000 for Title II Grant Funding to prepare for a possible reduction in federal aid. Money for a new scoreboard at the high school, $15,000, was taken out of the final budget proposal as a donation will now pay for that equipment.
In conjunction with the May 16 school budget vote, district residents will also elect three members to the Guilderland Board of Education. Terms are for three years each, are unpaid, and begin July 2017.
They are in the order they will appear on the budget:
McManus is an associate budget analyst with the Economics and Revenue Unit at the Division of Budget. He and his wife, Ann-Marie, have two sons – Jack is a fourth-grader, and Nicholas is a kindergartner at Lynnwood Elementary School. McManus is seeking his second term on the board.
Slack is a former English teacher. She began her career at Troy and Berne-Knox-Westerlo schools, and served Lynnwood Elementary as a teaching assistant for 24 years. Slack has been a resident of Guilderland for 48 years. Her three children, Julie, Sarah and Tom, all graduated from the Guilderland Central School District. Judy is seeking her fourth term on the board.
Horan has been a teacher for 30 years in the Guilderland Central School District, with the last 23 years being spent at Pine Bush Elementary. Currently in his last year before retiring, Horan is a second grade teacher. Horan and his wife, Barbara, have two sons, John and Timothy, both Guilderland graduates. He is seeking his first term on the board.
Maguire is the director of Economic Development for the Capital District Regional Planning Commission and an adjunct professor at the University at Albany. A resident of the district for 15 years, he and his wife, Amie, have two children – Emily, a third-grader at Guilderland Elementary School, and Jack, a pre-kindergarter at Christ the King Early Childhood Center. Maguire is seeking his first term on the board.
Simpson is the director of Accounting Operations at the State Insurance Fund. Simpson and his wife, Renate, have been residents of Guilderland for 18 years. They have two children – Tyler graduated from Guilderland High School in 2012, and daughter Ashley graduated in 2016. Simpson is seeking his third term on the board.