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2009-10 Budget

District takes steps to reduce costs both now and in the future

Focusing on efficiency and preparing for "deeper declines" in school funding
On November 25, Governor David Paterson issued an open letter to school superintendents and school board presidents explaining that the lack of legislative action on mid-year school aid cuts he proposed earlier in the month means that school districts should be prepared for deeper declines in school funding next year.

“Fiscal management is all about making hard, painful decisions, and the rejection of a mid-year School Aid reduction by the Legislature means that deeper declines in funding for school districts will now be necessary in 2009-10 to ensure a balanced budget,” the Governor wrote. Read the Governor’s letter (PDF).

State aid funds more than one quarter of the annual Guilderland Central School District budget and is one of two major sources of revenue for the district—the other being local property taxes.

“We recognize the fiscal crisis before us, and that we all need to play a part in solving the problem,” said Superintendent of Schools John McGuire. “But significantly cutting funding to education will negatively impact our students and taxpayers,” he added. “These are difficult times and now, more than ever, it is crucial that we work together to find an appropriate balance to maintain our quality educational program in light of potentially diminishing revenues and what taxpayers can afford.”

District officials began working on the development of next year’s spending plan back in October, and have been proactive in dealing with the difficult economic climate by looking at various ways to reduce costs both now and in the future.

“Planning a lean and efficient school budget is not just important during tough economic times, it has been an ongoing annual goal of the district,” said McGuire.

To help reach that goal, Guilderland has taken many steps to reduce costs throughout the last few years. For example, through its energy conservation program the district has realized approximately $1.7 million in cost-avoidance savings by being more energy efficient. The district’s Health Insurance Committee has also addressed the rising costs associated with providing employee health care coverage by introducing new prescription plan options and HMO benefit design changes which have resulted in savings of more than $565,000 throughout the past two years.

Officials reorganized transportation routes in recent years to be more efficient, and in November 2008, the Board of Education approved the creation of a new district-wide recycling/conservation coordinator position to help move GCSD forward in its recycling efforts.

Most recently, the district implemented a partial freeze on expenditures for the remainder of the current school year, reducing costs in a number of areas while maintaining flexibility to make essential purchases. Areas affected include: paper consumption, copying and mailings; equipment; conferences; field trips; overtime; and the utilization of substitutes.

“Guilderland has a strong commitment not only to our students, but to our community, as well.” said McGuire. “These potential savings will not come close to compensating for the levels of state aid reductions previously proposed by the governor, however, implementing these cost cutting measures is a responsible way to further enhance our cost-effectiveness and accountability without eliminating programs or staff or seriously compromising the education of our children.”