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Fulton County districts keep budgets within cap

Thursday, April 19, 2012
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— The boards of education of four school districts in Fulton County this week adopted tentative budgets for the 2012-13 academic year that stayed within their state-mandated tax caps while preserving most programs and services initially slated for elimination.

The public can decide on the proposed budgets and elect candidates to the respective school boards on May 15, the date set statewide for school votes.

• The Broadalbin-Perth Central School District on Monday night adopted a $29.5 million budget that carries a 3.3 percent tax levy increase. The increase would add $414,007 to the levy, bringing the total to $12.9 million. If voters approve the budget, the median school tax bill on a home assessed at $100,000 in the district will increase $49, to $1,187, according to school officials.

The tentative budget restores full-day kindergarten, modified and varsity sports, some elementary art and music classes, some Advanced Placement and college preparatory offerings, some school counseling services, in-house occupational and physical therapy services and communications services under contract with BOCES. Those had been targeted for elimination earlier in the budget process.

The district is also restoring its Odyssey of the Mind program, using Superintendent Stephen Tomlinson’s scheduled contractual $4,900 raise. Tomlinson forfeited his raise as a concession toward balancing the budget.

The district will eliminate its junior varsity sports programs next year, however.

Left undecided is the number of teaching and support staff who will return to the district next school year. The district in late February handed out layoff notices to 34 professional staff members to help close a projected $2.4 million gap in the 2012-13 budget.

District spokeswoman Michele Kelley said the layoff notices still stand, but some of those positions may come back, depending on negotiations with the teachers’ union. “I think [the board members] are hoping to reach an agreement before the budget vote,” she said. “A lot of things hinge on an agreement with the teachers’ union.”

The district is also in negotiations with its administrators’ unit.

Kelley said the actual budget amount won’t change from what was adopted, but the district can move money between budget line items for programs based on negotiations.

Two seats are open on the Board of Education. Candidates Robert D. Becker II and Erin Mitchell are running. Terms are for five years. Current board members Sari Stewart and Bradt Minkler are not seeking re-election.

• The Gloversville Enlarged School District’s school board on Monday adopted a $55.2 million budget that would carry a 1.9 percent increase in the tax levy, raising it approximately $250,000, to $13.4 million.

Superintendent Clifford Moses said the proposed budget is $2 million higher than the current budget. He was unable to provide fiscal impact figures on average taxpayers if the budget is adopted.

Gloversville did not have to resort to layoffs or program cuts to craft its budget. It is in better condition financially than other districts due to a series of deep cuts previously made by the board over the years.

Gloversville has trimmed its staff by 78 positions, about half of them teachers, since the 2009-10 budget cycle, while keeping tax increases between 2.5 and 3 percent per year for the last three years.

Three seats are open on the board, with two belonging to current board President Peter Semione and board member Polly Peck. A third seat has remained vacant since Sarah Pike left the district last year. Candidate petitions are due Tuesday; no one has filed petitions yet. Terms are for three years.

• The Mayfield Central School District on Tuesday adopted a $17.3 million proposed budget that would boost the tax levy by 2.4 percent, increasing it $160,000 and bringing the total to $6.8 million.

If the budget is approved, the average Mayfield homeowner would pay an extra $51 in school taxes, district officials said.

The district had been looking to make deep cuts to close a budget gap, but did not in the end. It received $181,000 in increased state aid and a bullet grant from state Sen. Hugh Farley, R-Niskayuna, and it used $1.1 million of its reserves and other measures to balance the budget. The district did not lay off any staff or cut programs.

One seat is up on the school board, that of board President Janis Frisch, who is not seeking re-election. Two people have picked up petitions for the seat: Joan Scannell and Kevin Capobianco. Terms are for five years.

• The Northville Central School District on Tuesday night adopted a $9.6 million budget with a 2.5 percent jump in the tax levy, an increase of $129,193 that would bring the levy to $5.4 million. School officials were unable to provide fiscal impact figures on average taxpayers if the budget is approved.

The district is eliminating the equivalent of three full-time positions, half of them instructional, through layoffs and retirements. It has also reduced its junior varsity athletic program and eliminated the track team, but it will retain its full pre-kindergarten program and two full-day kindergarten classrooms, plus other programs and services that had been on the chopping block, such as art, music, technology, library, special education and student support programs.

In addition, the Northville Teachers’ Association has agreed not to take raises this school year but will accept step increases in pay.

The district is also sharing its food service director with the nearby Wells and Mayfield school districts and shares instructional staff with the Edinburg Common School.

There is one seat open on the school board but no candidates running. The deadline to apply was Tuesday. Residents can write in a name on the ballot, or the board can appoint someone to the seat. Terms are for five years.

 
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