State aid helps school budget

FONDA – The Fonda-Fultonville Central School District’s budget proposal for 2014-15 includes a 1.75 percent tax-levy increase, as the district continues to work on the proposal.

A couple weeks ago, the Board of Education was looking at a tentative budget that had a $207,000 shortfall, but an increase in state education aid in the new state budget has eliminated the shortfall.

“The board has the option to use the additional state aid to help lower the tax levy, or do something else with it; we haven’t decided on anything yet,” District Treasurer Carey Shultz said. “I presented the board with the [additional state aid] numbers and told them, ‘Listen, this is what you have now. You need to make a decision; do you want to put it back into programs, program enhancement, initiatives, staffing or do you want to lower the tax levy?”

State aid to the district increased by more than $300,000 from earlier projections.

The state budget includes $12.4 million in state aid for Fonda-Fultonville, not including building aid. The amount represents a 5.2 percent increase over the current year.

Shultz advised the board to consider technology costs.

“One of the things we have to do is trade in the old computers,” he said. “There’s currently 100 computers that need to be replaced at $700 apiece. We’re adding technology and we’ve got a big class coming into eighth grade, so there’s an increase in technology costs. Also, we’ve got some students doing P-TECH, so that increases our technology costs too.”

The board will discuss the spending plan and the overall budget later this month.

As of now, the unofficial budget total is $24.93 million.

The fund balance would have about $1.4 million in it. The district has no plans to use it, officials said.

Shultz said the district is in a good position financially.

“We have the money now for initiatives or supplies or whatever,” Shultz said. “We’re still picking and choosing what we want to do, but we’re in a good position.

“After gap elimination was introduced four years ago, we’ve seen bumps in aid, but not enough to sustain increases in retirement and medical costs,” he said. “Now those costs have stabilized and the state has given us more aid, so I’m definitely more positive about this budget.”

The board may vote on the budget April 28. The public will vote on the budget May 20.