FFCSD Board of Education adopts 2021-22 proposed budget

FONDA — The Fonda-Fultonville Central School District adopted the proposed 2021-22 school budget on Wednesday. The proposal provides support for students while staying at the tax levy limit, according to a news release.

The F-FCSD Board of Education adopted the $30.8 million budget proposal for the 2021-22 school year at its meeting Wednesday. The plan continues all existing student programs and support services, reflecting a 3.34 percent year-to-year spending increase while staying at the tax levy limit. Residents will vote on the plan during the statewide budget vote on May 18. Polls will be open from noon to 9 p.m. in the high school auditorium.

According to the release, under the proposed budget, the district will continue to pursue academic excellence and opportunities for students. The plan prioritizes rigorous academic programs, supports for student mental health and social/emotional learning, and restores extracurricular, athletics and arts programs that were cut from the current budget.

“This year has been the most challenging in the history of education. It is vital that we fill learning gaps, reinstate our extracurricular programs, and help students begin to heal the emotional scars that this pandemic has left behind,” Superintendent Thomas Ciaccio said.

The district will reallocate resources to increase services for students while controlling costs. For example, the proposed budget includes the hire of a full-time school psychologist instead of contracting for a part-time school psychologist service at the same cost.

FFCS will accelerate its educational technology plans with increased distance learning opportunities for students and enhanced equipment in classrooms, the release states.

Savings generated by strategic efficiencies and an increase in state foundation aid will allow the district to enhance its academic program. The district will additionally use approximately $1 million in fund balance, or savings, and reserves to balance the budget.

The proposed budget calls for a tax levy increase of 0.29 percent, or $31,353. The tax levy limit or “cap” for FFCS next year is 0.29 percent. Because the tax levy is at the cap, the proposed budget will require a simple majority vote for approval (more than 50 percent).

Federal stimulus money is not included in the 2021-22 spending plan. School districts in New York state will be required to develop a plan and apply for federal stimulus money from the state. Stimulus funds will not be used for ongoing costs, rather will be tied to targeted costs, including summer programs, technology and academic and social-emotional support for students. FFCS is developing a plan for the stimulus funds to support student achievement and continued health and safety measures related to COVID-19.

School bus proposition

During the budget vote in May, voters will consider a proposition to approve a five-year lease for a 28-passenger bus and a 66-passenger bus at a cost not to exceed $157,000 total. Voter approval of the lease will allow the district to continue to have three leased buses. The use of leased buses has generated significant savings for the district in areas that are not eligible for state aid, including the late bus run.

Board of Education candidate election

Voters will elect three candidates to serve three-year terms on the board of education starting July 1. The seats are presently occupied by Michelle Isabella, Dennis Egelston and Domenic DiNatale, whose terms end June 30. All three incumbents are seeking re-election.

What’s next?

∫ The community is invited to learn more about the proposed budget at 7 p.m. on May 4 at a virtual public hearing. Go to https://www.youtube.com/user/FFCSDBraves/featured to access the livestream.

∫ Vote on the budget and the board member election on May 18 from 1 to 9 p.m. in the high school auditorium lobby. Absentee ballots are available by request. More information about absentee ballots is available on the district website at www.fondafultonvilleschools.org.

By Patricia Older