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Budget news & information

Budget rumors: Fact or fiction?

Preparing a school budget is a complex process. While the district makes every effort to explain the nuances of all proposed changes in a clear and concise manner, rumors are bound to arise. Below are some of the more common questions and concerns being heard around town, as well as related clarifications on each topic.


Is the school district closing an elementary school at the end of the year?

No, the district is not closing an elementary school at the end of the school year. In fact, there are no plans to close any district buildings at this time. Closing a building is not a simple decision. Whether or not to make significant changes to the district’s use of space requires careful study and planning. It also takes time. While the district will likely review its use of space and district buildings in the near future, there will be no significant changes in place for the 2013-14 school year. In addition, any study completed would look at the use of all buildings—not just one in particular.


I keep hearing about all of the mandates that school districts must comply with...can we just say "no" to mandates?

A mandate is a statute or regulation that requires a state/local government or public organization to perform certain actions. Under state and federal law, all public school districts must comply with education mandates; school districts cannot simply "opt-out" of mandates, regardless of whether they are funded or unfunded. The Board of Education and the Superintendent of Schools each take an oath of office to uphold New York State Education Law as well as the state and federal constitutions. It is their civic duty to comply with established mandates. In addition, districts could face fines and/or other sanctions from the state and federal level if not in compliance with the law.


Is it true that Guilderland's shared of Race to the Top (RTTT)  money is only around $7,700 per year? If so, why didn't the district reject the money so that we did not have to institute the costly mandates that go along with it?

In 2010, New York was awarded a grant for $696 million through the federal Race to the Top (RTTT) program, to be distributed over a four-year period beginning in 2012. Half of this amount was granted to local schools and the other half was retained by the State Education Department to build capacity for new curriculum models, assessment, teacher and principal preparation and evaluation, professional development and student data system. Guilderland Central School District was awarded $30,771 of this total amount, to be distributed over 4 years. So yes, our district's share of RTTT money is about $7,700 per year.

As part of the RTTT grant award, all school districts in New York must comply with the defined components of the program. Districts must align their curriculum to the Common Core Learning Standards in English language arts and mathematics; provide evidence of data-driven instruction to inform classroom practices, teacher recruitment, evaluation, professional development; and evaluate  teacher and principal effectiveness through the use of new Annual Professional Performance Review (APPR) measures. Adhering to all of the required components comes at a cost to school districts in the form of necessary time, training, equipment and materials. While a recent report (PDF) from the Center for Research, Regional Education, and Outreach at the State University of New York at New Paltz finds that the costs to implement RTTT mandates well exceed the funding, it is not up to each individual school district whether or not to participate in the program. The RTTT award was an "all or nothing" venture on behalf of the entire state and all school districts must comply accordingly.


Why do I always see half-empty school buses? Isn't that a waste of money?

When you seen an empty school bus, it is likely just beginning or has just finished its pick-up route, or it may be a bus transporting students to schools out of the district. The occupancy level for a school bus is influenced by several factors, including the number of students in a district, the number of square miles in a district, and transportation requirements set by state education law. Guilderland currently has more than 5,700 students (GSCD students, private/parochial students, and special needs students) eligible to ride our buses. In addition, these students may be transported to/from any one of eight in-district schools or more than 50 out-of-district placements on any given day. Transportation to afterschool care facilities is also provided by the district. Making routing even more complex is the fact that Guilderland Central School District is approximately 50 square miles in size—with many rural routes. The number of school busses on the road and the number of students on those busses reflects these factors and is designed to meet legal requirements for the amount of time that students can spend on a bus.

In the fall of 2009, the Board of Education commissioned a committee of school officials and Board of Education members to facilitate a consultant study of our per pupil transportation routing system to address the following two issues:

Could bus routes and bell times be restructured to increase the student instructional day by up to 20 minutes at the elementary level?

Could bus routes be reconfigured to increase efficiency and lower costs while still providing an acceptable level of service?

The committee met on numerous occasions to review five possible scenarios for change in the district's transportation program. On March 23, 2010, committee members presented a report to the Board of Education and community indicating their recommendations.  Read the complete report (PDF) or view the Committee's PowerPoint presentation to the BOE (PDF)


Did the district use federal stimulus funds to start-up its full-day kindergarten program?

No, the district did not use federal stimulus funds to implement its full-day kindergarten program. However, the district did receive a conversation aid payment of $799,095 from New York State in order to make the move from a half-day to full-day program. This aid is offered to all school districts on a one-time basis; meaning, the district would be ineligible to receive this aid a second time should it ever eliminate full-day kindergarten and try to reinstate it in the future.

New York State recognizes the importance of early education programs like full-day kindergarten. In fact, the first recommendation in the Education Action Plan recently released by the Governor’s New NY Education Reform Commission is to “strengthen the academic pipeline from pre-kindergarten through college.” Since full-day kindergarten was first implemented at GCSD in the 2009-10 school year, the district has seen significant increases in the numbers of students meeting reading benchmarks in grades 1 and 2 as well as significant decreases in the numbers of kindergarten and grade 1 students referred for review for special education services.



Please be sure to sure to check back to this page often, as new topics will be added throughout the budget season.


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