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Fonda-Fultonville school board delays final decision on budget cuts

Tuesday, April 17, 2012
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— Upcoming budget cuts cast a pall over the Fonda-Fultonville Central School District Board of Education meeting Monday night.

The official budget discussion and ratification was pushed back to 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, but much of the meeting focused on budget worries nonetheless.

Music teachers Gregory Kowalczyk and Chad Lenig gave a presentation on the school’s instrumental music program, which involves 31 percent of the student body from grades five through 12. Their presentation was backed by student-recorded marching band and jazz standards, and ended with a mournful reminder that the music program could go away with the 2012-13 budget.

“This is just an example of the programs we could lose in the budget cuts,” Superintendent James Hoffman said. “We could just as easily be talking about physical education or art, but we’re doing the best we can.”

Physical education, a program that is already falling behind state standards according to Hoffman, might be facing even more cuts.

“This is the hardest budget I’ve ever dealt with,” said Board of Education President Linda Wszolek. “The cuts are deep and I’m worried about our students.”

The board hopes that through a combination of pay freezes and overriding the state’s property tax levy cap, certain programs such as kindergarten will be saved.

“We hope and pray we can come back here on Wednesday with good news for you,” Wszolek said.

The public will vote on the budget Tuesday, May 15. Also May 15, five people will be seeking election to three seats on the Board of Education being vacated by incumbents not seeking re-election. The candidates are John Donovan, Mary Frollo, Donna Hayes, Russ Williams and Kelly O’Kosky.

Meanwhile, just a few days from the necessary conclusion to the budget planning, the board also has been searching for a new superintendent. In an executive session before the public meeting, they met with BOCES District Superintendent Patrick Michel and decided to advertise for an interim superintendent.

“We’re just now starting the search for an interim,” said board Vice President Timothy Wendell. “It’s still very early.”

Superintendent James Hoffman’s resignation was made official Monday. His last day will be June 30, but he has volunteered to come back and help transition the new superintendent into the job.

“The last thing you want to do is leave the district you loved in the lurch,” said Hoffman, who is leaving to take over as superintendent of the Averill Park School District in Rensselaer County.

 
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