Online survey shows security is top priority at Guilderland schools

The Enterprise — Elizabeth Floyd Mair

School leaders, at right, listen attentively to Tim Wilford of Altamont during a Feb. 15 Community Conversation attended by very few members of the public; the visitors circulated to several different sites to share their thoughts on budget priorities.

GUILDERLAND — Fewer than 20 residents attended the Community Conversation held at the high school on the evening of Feb. 15, when Superintendent Marie Wiles announced the results of an online survey on how additional funds in the school’s 2017-18 budget should be used. Many more school employees were present than residents.

One hundred and forty-five residents had indicated, in the survey, that they planned to attend, Wiles said.

“In recent years, attendance has been very poor,” Wiles said Friday, “which is why we’ve explored using electronic means.”

The forums were well attended when there was a budget gap and programs and staff had to be cut. The $97.6 million budget proposal for next year, for the second year in a row, does not involve massive cuts, but, rather, allows for some additions.

The board’s communications committee will be meeting soon, Wiles said, and they will discuss “if it still makes sense” to have an evening devoted to hearing from the community.

Safety was a big priority among the 1,037 total participants who responded to the online survey: 809 were school community members, 228 were Guilderland High School students, 612 were district residents, 454 were parents of currently enrolled students, and 352 were district employees.

Among residents, the highest priority, with 56 percent of respondents citing it as crucially important, was “maintaining safe, secure buildings.” Among parents, this was crucial for 59 percent. This same answer was cited by a total of 78 percent of the 228 high school students who responded.

The top priority was different only for employees, 59 percent of whom chose “academic support for struggling students” as crucial.

Following these priorities came, in descending order: safe and efficient transportation; social and emotional growth; inclusion; up-to-date technology; smaller class sizes; the arts; and expanded electives. 

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