budget

Two years after a consultant recommended school closure to deal with declining enrollment and excess space, the district is on the verge of filling empty classrooms with a pre-kindergarten program.

Marie Wiles proposed a spending plan for next year for Guilderland schools that stays under the near-zero levy limit set by the state and does not cut any programs or staff.

"We’re going to have to be creative," said Sarah Blood, the new business manager for Berne-Knox-Westerlo, as the rural district with declining enrollment is faced with stagnant state aid and committed to no tax increase.

For the first time, Guilderland used a survey to gauge public opinion in drafting its budget; 370 surveys were completed.

“I’m happy to have other people face the difficult decisions we face,” said school board member Christopher McManus of the unpleasant choices that must be faced to close budget gaps.

Inclusion won’t be costly next year as the school district takes "baby steps," says Superintendent Marie Wiles.

Westerlo's tax rate is still unavailable, but is not expected to change much, according to Supervisor Richard Rapp. 

The school district here, like those across the state, is facing a new budget year without the ability to raise taxes unless it can get a supermajority of voters to approve a hike.

Supervisor Michael Hammond says his last budget is "pretty much bullet proof."

Town employees will see 1-percent raises if the board approves the proposed budget.

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