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Learn more about one of the major issues currently facing public schools throughout New York: the Gap Elimination Adjustment (GEA).

Superintendent presents 2013-14 proposed budget

March 1, 2013—At a special meeting held Feb. 28, Superintendent of Schools
Dr. Marie Wiles presented a 2013-14 budget to members of the Board of Education and community that included $2 million in reductions 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.

The budget proposal, totaling $90,803,920, represents a 1.73 percent increase in spending over the current year's budget and would result in an estimated tax levy and tax rate increase of 3.52 percent for district residents--just under the district's maximum allowable tax levy limit as calculated under the state's "tax cap" guidelines.

   • View the PowerPoint presentation from the meeting (PDF)

   • View the complete DRAFT 2013-14 budget document (PDF)

   • View the DRAFT budget document appendices (PDF)

“Crafting a budget that meets the needs of both our students and our community members is always a balancing act,” said Wiles. "We have to weigh mission with money, and in these tough fiscal times, the balancing act is more challenging than ever."

In preparing the draft proposal, Wiles considered the analysis of data, enrollment, and student needs/interests along with feedback from the community and Board of Education. In addition, the professional input and judgment of her colleagues played in integral role in the items presented for discussion at the meeting.

"We always consider the impact of changes on children first--working to direct resources to where the need is most significant and preserving educational opportunities wherever possible," said Wiles. "Reductions driven by declining enrollment or a reduced number of sections, as well as those informed by data indicating a decrease in needed services, were enacted first. Wherever possible, we avoided reductions proposed only to close the district's $2.1 million budget gap."

Included in the proposal is the reduction of 31.45 full-time equivalent (FTE) positions, including 11.35 FTE teachers, 9.0 FTE teaching assistants, 1.6 FTE administrators, and 9.5 FTE support staff spread across all three levels as well as district-wide. View slides on the percentage of reductions by level and job classification (PDF)

The budget also calls for the reduction of one house principal at the middle school and the elimination of the elementary and middle school FTEs in the enrichment program—topics widely discussed at Community Conversation events held earlier this year.

In addition, the proposed spending plan maintains existing levels of teaching assistant support for kindergarten; the Instructional Support Team position at the middle school; a grade six common core teaching position as well as existing levels of grade six technology and special areas; advanced placement and elective opportunities at the high school; and the existing "in-house" model for physical therapy services. The draft budget also restores the high school "X" program to its original capacity of two sections per grade level.

"Our district mission, vision, goals and priorities resonate in our minds at all times as we make these difficult decisions," said Wiles. "While recommending reductions is never easy, this proposal will enable the district to continue to provide the programs and services that are in the best long-term interests of the children we serve."

How is a proposed 3.52 percent increase within the cap?
As part of the presentation on Feb. 28, Assistant Superintendent for Business Neil Sanders outlined the impact that the state's "tax cap" is having on the district's budget proposal. Now in its second year, New York’s property tax levy “cap” has often been referred to as a “2 percent cap” on taxes by some politicians and the media. However, this is incorrect. The law does not restrict any proposed tax levy increase to 2 percent—or any other amount. Instead, the legislation requires each school district in the state to calculate its own tax levy limit to determine what level of voter support is necessary for budget approval. The figure “2 percent” (or the rate of inflation, if less) is just one of eight variables that factor into each district’s calculation of its individual tax levy limit as prescribed by law.

Under the state's calculation, for 2013-14 Guilderland Central School District has a lax levy limit plus exclusions of $65,597,963. This is our maximum allowable levy limit to pass the budget with a simple majority of voters (50 percent + 1).

The tax levy proposed in the Superintendent’s budget is $65,597,920 -- less than what the district is allowed to propose if seeking a simple majority for the passage of its budget. That is why even with the proposed 3.52 percent increase in the tax levy for next year, the district is within the property "tax cap" limit according to the law. Learn more about the property tax levy limit

“The district had a choice of whether or not to exceed the tax levy threshold set by the state,” explained Wiles, “but we are living in very difficult economic times and our taxpayers have an expectation that their tax burden will be modest. The vast majority of the proposed reductions in my budget proposal are a result of declining enrollment, fewer sections, reduced levels of student need or operational efficiencies. It just didn't seem like the right time to ask our community to pay more.”

Taking a closer look
Based on feedback from the community and Board of Education, and reflecting the professional judgment and experience of the Superintendent and District Office Team, the following items have been enacted in the proposed budget.

By area, proposed changes in the 2013-14 budget include:

Elementary Instruction and Staffing
• Eliminate elementary enrichment position (-1.0 FTE, $72,000)
• Reduce TA hours for reading support at GES (-11 hrs, $55,200)
• Reduce TA hours for reading support at PBES (-6.5 hrs, $30,600)
• Reduce TA hours for math support at PBES (-2.5 hrs, $6,050)
• Reduce nursing clerical support at WES (-1 hr, $2,120)
• Reduce cafeteria monitors at AES, LES and WES (-6 hrs, $12,750)
Learn more about the rationale for proposing each item above (PDF)

Middle Level Instruction and Staffing
• Reduce administration from three (3) house principals to two (2) house principals (-1.0 FTE, $125,000)
• Reduce clerical support by one 11-month position (-1.0 FTE, $44,900)
• Eliminate middle school enrichment program (-1.0 FTE, $72,000)
• Eliminate one reading position (-1.0 FTE, $72,000)
• Reduce one section each of 7th grade special areas (technology, family and consumer science, Art, PE Health, General Music) due to enrollment (-0.4 FTE, $20,600)
Learn more about the rationale for proposing each item above (PDF)

High School Instruction and Staffing
• Reduce English teacher positions and restore ELA/SS “X” sections from one per grade level to two per grade level (-3.0 FTE, $216,000)
• Reduce one section of non-Regents Algebra 2 and Trigonometry (-0.2 FTE, $10,300)
• Reduce one section of Core Biology (co-taught) (-0.3 FTE, $15,450)
• Reduce two hall monitors (-11.5 hrs, $46,800)
• Reduce copy room clerical position (-0.5 FTE, $21,280)
• Summer school cost savings ($18,340)
Learn more about the rationale for proposing each item above (PDF)

Special Areas and Athletics
• Reduce one section of Ceramics I at high school (-.10 FTE, $5,150)
• Eliminate one section of Advanced Art I (-.20 FTE, $10,300)
• Reduce one section of 7th grade Art at FMS due to decline in enrollment (-.05 FTE, $2,575)
• Reduce one section of 7th grade General Music at FMS due to decline in enrollment (-.05 FTE, $2,575)
• Reduce staffing for high school music lessons at GHS (-0.50 $25,750)
• Eliminate music equipment purchases; reduce supply, professional services codes ($22,260)
• Reduce sections of 7th grade physical education and health at FMS due to decline in enrollment (-0.15 FTE, $7,725)
• Reduce physical education sections at the elementary level due to reduced classroom sections (-0.4 FTE, $20,600)
• Eliminate assistant coaching positions (wrestling, boys’ JV lacrosse, girls’ JV lacrosse, boys’ varsity soccer, girls’ varsity soccer and gymnastics) ($22,522)
• Eliminate JV Golf ($4,122)
• Reduce one section of German at 7th grade at FMS (-0.2 FTE, $10,300)
• Reduce one section of Spanish at 6th grade due to enrollment (-0.2 FTE, $10,300)
• Reduce on section of Spanish at 7th grade due to enrollment (-0.2 FTE, $10,300)
• Reduce two sections of Spanish 3 at GHS due to fewer student requests (-0.4 FTE, $20,600)
• Offer one section of Italian at 6th grade at FMS (Cost Neutral)
Increase ESL to meet early literacy needs/additional students (+.75, +$54,000)
Learn more about the rationale for proposing each item above (PDF)

Special Education
• Reduce special education teacher at PBES (-1.0 FTE, $72,000)
• Reduce special education teacher at AES (-0.4 FTE, $20,600)
• Reduce special education TA positions district wide due to decline in need for one-to-one assistants (-5.6 FTE, $162,400)
• Reduce private and BOCES special education services ($214,560)
• Reduce two placements at BOCES: students recommended for discharge ($56,000)
Learn more about the rationale for proposing each item above (PDF)

Educational Support Services
• Eliminate custodial worker position at WES (-0.5 FTE, $22,350)
• Eliminate custodial worker position at FMS (-1.0 FTE, $40,700)
• Reduce courier position from 12 month to 10 month position ($8,350)
• Eliminate bus driver positions (-3.0 FTE, $102,330)
• Eliminate bus mechanic position (-1.0 FTE, $54,600)
• Reduce Utilities/Services ($182,000)
• Transition to Google Apps for Education ($32,070)
• Discontinue StarBase Server Support ($14,590)
Learn more about the rationale for proposing each item above (PDF)


Unable to attend the Feb. 28 special meeting? Watch a replay by clicking on the "Play" button below.



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