Schenectady County

Scotia-Glenville school layoffs on the table

Laying off teachers, increasing class sizes, reducing foreign language classes and eliminating field

Laying off teachers, increasing class sizes, reducing foreign language classes and eliminating field trips are all possibilities as Scotia-Glenville School District officials seek to trim nearly $2.9 million from the budget to reduce the potential tax increase.

“There’s nothing off the table at this point,” said Superintendent Susan Swartz.

Affecting the budget are Gov. David Paterson’s proposed cut in state aid to the district of $2.3 million. Swartz said school officials had been planning for flat state aid.

Just maintaining the existing staff and programs adds another $2.5 million to the budget, with increases in salaries and benefits factored in. That would put the budget at nearly $49 million with a 10.6 percent tax increase.

Swartz said she is looking to reduce that number. The Board of Education is aiming for a tax rate increase of 5 percent.

Being considered is eliminating teachers, teacher aides and administrators. Also under review is eliminating or reducing the number of librarians, social workers, psychologists and nurses in elementary schools, where they are not required.

Swartz said about 21 full-time equivalent positions are affected in the proposed reductions she will present to the board at budget work session on March 1. People may see their hours cut, their hourly pay decreased or their positions eliminated entirely. She will be meeting with the people whose jobs could be at risk before the budget work session.

“There really isn’t an area that I have left untouched,” Swartz said. “You won’t see decimation of any one program. We have tried to be very mindful of the good work that has been done here and to try to keep as much as possible.”

Another idea is to revert to a half-day kindergarten program. The district expanded to full-day kindergarten this past fall. Swartz said going back to a half day idea is not very popular with the board.

Swartz also pointed out that Schenectady County was among the hardest hit in the state with the level of proposed aid reduction. If aid had been flat, the district would already be around a tax rate increase of 5 percent with the reductions she has in mind. She added that some legislators, including Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, said there need to be aid cuts but the governor’s reductions are too steep.

However, the state budget may not be finished by the time district has to present a budget before voters.

“I will not bank on money I truly don’t know exists,” she said.

Swartz also said she has also asked the four labor unions whose contracts are up in June of next year for concessions in wages and health benefits. This includes teachers, teaching assistants, nurses and administrative bargaining units. She anticipated hearing from one or two of the unions by the end of this week.

Swartz will make another budget presentation at the board’s budget work session on Monday at 7 p.m. at Scotia-Glenville Middle School.

There will also be two community forums on March 13 at 10 a.m. and on March 17 at 7 p.m. Both will be held at the middle school.

Board of Education President Pamela Carbone said voters have to understand the district’s dire situation.

“This is not something we want to be doing at all. This is hard for everybody.”

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