By ARTHUR CLEVELAND
FONDA – Former Fonda-Fultonville Central School District psychologist Michael J. Fraser, who served for 19 years, said he was given a week’s notice that his position would be removed due to budget cuts, but he has no animosity toward the school.
“The operative word I have been using with the community and staff was that I was disappointed,” Fraser said.
The board, acting on recommendations from Interim Superintendent Ray Colucciello, voted to dismiss Fraser and the business education teacher position as part of mid-year budget cuts Jan. 29, leaving Fraser until Friday before he was let go.
According to the district, removing Fraser saved the school $32,000 for the rest of the school year.
Several students and parents came to the meeting to defend Fraser, saying his dismissal was a poor move by the school district. Some said while the reinstatement of spring sports – which the district previously decided to eliminate – was nice, having the school psychologist was more important.
Fraser said that the support he received from the community went beyond just the parents and students who appeared before the school board.
“On a daily basis, I am getting phone calls from the community and support,” Fraser said.
Fraser said he is amazed at all of the support he received.
“In my 19 years of working here at Fonda-Fultonville, I have come to know all of you on one level or another. The experience of working and growing together to better serve our students is perhaps one of my most cherished accomplishments,” Fraser said in a letter to teachers and faculty at the school.
Fraser said a high percentage of students in kindergarten through 12th grade use some form of counseling service
Fraser said that the school has a part-time BOCES counselor, a social worker, three guidance counselors and a counselor from St. Mary’s Healthcare.
“They do have the best interests of the children in hand when it comes to counseling,” Fraser said.
However, Fraser said he had concerns about an overflow of students going to the other members.
Scott Rice, director of special programs for the district, said the remaining staff are qualified to handle the overflow.
Fraser said that with such short notice he had yet to find another position.
“I’m positive something will turnaround about this,” he said.