District residents approve 2019-20 budget; re-elect incumbent board members

Fonda-Fultonville Central School District residents approved a $30,339,457 budget on Tuesday, May 21, by a vote of 347 to 82.

The budget maintains all current programs and services, expands academic opportunities and support for students, and reflects a 3.45 percent year-to-year spending increase while staying within the tax levy limit.

The budget includes a tax levy increase of 1.5 percent, or $155,335, which is below the district’s tax levy limit or “cap” for Fonda-Fultonville of 3.89 percent as calculated by the state formula. The tax cap law only applies to the tax levy (the amount of taxes collected by the district), not to tax rates or individual tax bills.

Voters also elected two board candidates and approved a bus proposition. Matt Sullivan received 249 votes and Bonnie Couture received 256 votes to retain their seats. Challengers Thomas (T.J.) Petersen and Matthew Tournianen had 164 votes and 111 votes respectively.

Savings generated by strategic efficiencies, three retirements and a $266,169 increase in state foundation aid will allow the district to enhance its academic program while keeping the tax levy change below the tax cap. The district will additionally use $484,358 in reserves to balance the budget.

The goal for the 2019-20 budget is to ensure the academic program engages and challenges every student while balancing fiscal responsibility to taxpayers.

“We are fortunate at Fonda-Fultonville to have a community that truly values the education of each one of our students. We want to thank all of our voters for coming out and supporting not only our budget, but our school district,” Superintendent Thomas Ciaccio said. “We are excited about the expansion of programs and the addition of student supports that are going to be in place for the 2019-20 school year.”

Enhancing the academic program

The district will strive to improve academic outcomes through the addition of a full-time director of curriculum and instruction within next year’s budget. The budget also allocates funding for a part-time school counselor — a new state-mandated position — who will support students in grades K-5.

The budget provides funding to implement the first phase of the district’s 1:1 computer initiative. Under a pilot program, students in two secondary grade levels will receive a Chromebook to support their academic studies. The long-term goal is to put a technology device in the hands of each student to increase student collaboration, build research skills and encourage critical thinking, innovation and workplace readiness.

Bus lease proposition

District residents, by a vote of to 364 to 63, also authorized a five-year lease for a 30-passenger bus at a total cost not to exceed $49,000. This means the district will 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 prekindergarten transportation and the late bus run.

The Fort Hunter Free Library funding proposition passed by a vote of 339 to 85. The Frothingham Free Library funding proposition passed by a vote of 370 to 56.