Voters approve 2018-19 budget

Residents of the Fonda-Fultonville Central School District voted by a margin of 264-37 to approve a $29.3 million spending plan for the 2018-19 school year on Tuesday, May 15. Voters also elected three board of education members.

The adopted budget keeps all current programming intact, and reflects a 3.96 percent spending increase over the current budget without increasing the tax levy.

“We appreciate all of the support the district continues to receive from our community,” Superintendent of Schools Thomas Ciaccio said. “Our students will certainly benefit from this budget. We repurposed resources for the betterment of our programs. It is an investment that supports student success now and into the future.”

Voters elected three candidates to serve three-year terms on the Board of Education — incumbents Michelle Isabella (252 votes) and Frederick Hidde (243 votes) and newcomer Domenic DiNatale (243 votes).

As the top vote-getter, Isabella’s term began upon being sworn in after the polls closed on May 15. Her previous term was an appointment to fulfill a vacancy created by the resignation of a former board member. Hidde’s and DiNatale’s terms will begin July 1.

Program additions for next year’s budget include:

  • A full-time special education teacher who will serve as a work-based learning coordinator for the Career Development and Occupational Studies program.
  • Funding to increase technology equipment in classrooms, including Google Chromebooks and interactive flat panels. The budget would also increase IT support that teachers need to successfully integrate technology in their instruction.
  • Increased school-based counseling support for students through additional partnerships with agencies such as Berkshire Farms and St. Mary’s.
  • A sensory room for students with special needs. A sensory room is a therapeutic space with a variety of equipment that helps children calm and focus themselves, so they can be better prepared for learning and interacting with others.
  • A contract with the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office to acquire a school resource officer.

The district was able to fund additional programs and services in the budget through strategic efficiencies, savings from eight retirements and a $240,000 increase in state aid. Savings were generated by reorganizing the district’s transportation budget, by joining a health insurance consortium and by bringing programs in-house that were previously provided by outside providers.

In addition to the budget, voters also approved a pair of propositions to allocate $16,547 to the Frothingham Free Library in Fonda, and $14,000 to the Fort Hunter Free Library. Under State Education Law, funding for the libraries is collected by the school district and then forwarded to the respective libraries. The vote for the Frothingham Free Library was 269-30, and the vote for the Fort Hunter Free Library was 246-50.