GASD releases 2015-2016 preliminary budget

School business manager Kim Brumley presented a preliminary budget for the Grater Amsterdam School District for the 2015-16 school year at Wednesday’s regular meeting of the Board of Education.

Governor Cuomo’s proposed budget has not yet been passed yet, meaning that the district has not been notified of how much state aid it will be receiving for the next school year. In the meantime, Brumley said that she “rolled over what we have with this year’s budget,” creating a “quick snapshot of where we are.“ The proposed budget currently shows a 3.3 percent increase in expenses over the current years budget, raising it from $63.31 million to $65.39 million.

The increases were created primarily by increases in BOCES services and salaries. The cost of BOCES services has risen due to a rise in the number of students within the district in special education who require more restrictive environments.

Under new guidelines for English Language Learners, the district may be required to hire five teachers certified in English as a Second Language, commonly referred to as ESOL. According to Director of Elementary Instruction Robert Mark, for students enrolled in the district learning English as a second language, “we used to provide all of our services by having a period set aside or two periods or three periods, depending on the level of need to serve groups of students.”

Beginning in September, the district will be required to have an ESOL certified teacher accompany students at all grade levels in the regular classroom, later pulling them out for separate instruction in small groups.

Mark said, “Just for the number of periods to get a teacher, let’s say at the elementary level, into kindergarten through fifth grade in a building in the course of a day, that’s six periods right there. Plus the pull out, plus the lunch and prep time all add up to where you can’t have a single person in a building.”

Additionally, the new mandate will require that an ESOL certified teacher be present during the registration period for students of all grade levels, in order to assist with the language questionnaire.

The new state mandate is unfunded meaning that the positions will have to be provided for in the budget.

Ashley Onyon

Ashley Onyon is a graduate of the journalism program at SUNY Albany. She has contributed articles to The Mohawk Valley Independent and the annual journal Upstream.