Fulton City School District asked to do more with less aid

by Nicole Reitz

The Fulton Board of Education is once again asked to do more with less.

During Tuesday’s meeting, the district was looking at a $807,000 gap in the proposed $65.4 million budget.

The board was in a holding pattern as they waited for the state legislature to finish their work. Superintendent Bill Lynch said that the legislature had agreed to the framework of the budget and the budget language.

Shortly after the meeting, figures were supplied by the office of state Senator Patty Ritchie. Schools in Oswego County received increases in aid from $131,000 to $474,000 above the governor’s original proposal.

The extra aid will help fill a gap created several years ago by the state when it created the Gap Elimination Adjustment.

This year’s Gap Elimination Adjustment is smaller than in years past. State officials say they plan to phase it out as the economy recovers, but the lost revenue is a significant reason why districts are draining their reserve funds in an attempt to avoid further layoffs and program cuts.

Fulton is still looking at a $400,000 to $440,000 budget gap.

During Tuesday’s meeting, board member Brian Hotaling questioned what was the district’s “Plan B” if the state didn’t fill the gap in the budget.

Lynch said that the options left were to cut expenses, reduce spending at the schools, or borrow more from the reserve fund balance.

Lynch added that as he and other administrators put the budget together, their goal was to not use more than $1.5 million in reserves or increase the local tax levy above 1.5 percent.

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