FFCS plan estimates tax-levy increase at 5%

FONDA – The Fonda-Fultonville Central School District Board of Education is reviewing a 2013-14 budget proposal that would increase the tax levy by 5 percent but cut no programs or staff.

The district, however, is waiting to find out how much aid it will receive in the new state budget, which the state Legislature may adopt this week.

“We are hopeful of more state aid. It is a matter of who gets what,” Interim Superintendent Ray Colucciello said at Monday’s meeting.

The school board continues to review the budget, which board President Linda Wszolek said still contains a $238,568 gap. The board Monday talked about possible cuts if necessary, including athletics programs.

Colucciello said the district has planned the budget based on the governor’s executive budget proposal, which would give the district enough aid to prevent cuts in programs or staff.

The 2013-14 district proposal now stands at $24.2 million, an increase of 1.46 percent from the current budget.

The tax-levy increase would be 4.95 percent, which would be under the state-imposed tax cap of 8.3 percent.

Colucciello said the district has found some savings. The positions of four people who are retiring will not be filled. He said the district also will save money with changes in health insurance.

He said the district anticipates less spending on Board of Cooperative Educational Services programs next school year.

Colucciello cited savings from refinancing long-term debt and expected reductions in the price of gasoline and diesel fuel.

“We will come to the board with a budget that can be supported by the whole community,” Colucciello said.

If necessary, the school board could save $62,410 by cutting modified sports, boys and girls swimming, golf, bowling and a junior varsity cheerleading coach, said Athletic Coordinator Eric Wilson.

“These reductions will have a small effect on children,” Wilson said.

He said those sports can be played by the district’s children outside of school.

“The district can foresee lower transportation costs. Instead of 15 kids on one bus, more kids can share one bus,” Wilson said.

High School Principal David Halloran presented the board with a three-year plan for a course called Engineering, Design and Development. He also suggested the board consider creating a nanotechnology course.

“We should expose our students to get high-tech jobs in the future,” Halloran said.

Middle School Principal Elizabeth Donovan asked the school board to form a committee to look into changing the district’s master schedule from nine periods to eight in an effort to give more curriculum instruction to students.

“This would extend the classes an extra five minutes,” she said.