By Ashley M. Casey
Fulton City School District administrators presented the first draft of the 2014-15 school budget at the March 11 board of education meeting.
The budget is expected to increase by 2.66 percent to $66,992,685 from the 2013-14 total of $65,259,100. The first draft projects a 1 percent local tax levy increase.
Superintendent Bill Lynch said there is a $1,280,378 shortfall in revenue. Lynch said he is hoping local legislators can lobby for additional aid from New York state to bridge the gap, rather than increasing the tax levy.
Lynch said the district is aiming for a “status quo budget” to maintain current student programs and services and only increasing to cover costs.
“Our mission is educating our students and supporting our staff … and the lion’s share of the budget goes to support that,” Lynch said,
The board will review a second draft of the budget at the April 8 meeting.
Director of Facilities, Operations and Transportation Jerry Seguin updated the board on the various renovations across the district.
As part of the 2012 capital project, the district is renovating several classrooms, information technology infrastructure, heating and air conditioning, and computer labs in Volney and Fairgrieve elementary schools.
Over the summer, the district will replace the roofs at Volney and G. Ray Bodley High School, as well as the Education Center’s stage curtains and lighting.
As for the recently approved 2014-15 capital project, Seguin said the district has submitted a proposal for the Lanigan Elementary School gym floor and lockset replacement projects. These repairs are expected to take place over the summer.
The Granby Elementary School roof is expected to be replaced during the summer of 2015.
Director of Technology Stephanie Maturo reported on several advancements Fulton schools have made on the technology front. The district has spent $987,524.56 on technology this school year alone.
Maturo said one of the main achievements was increasing the number of interactive whiteboards in core area classrooms to 217. In 2011, the district had only 32 interactive white boards.
Maturo said she has ordered more mobile technology carts for the schools.
“We’re really trying to shift the idea from a computer lab being a static place that you go to something being integrated (in the classroom),” Maturo said.
She also said the district successfully used the SchoolMessenger phone and email alert system for the Feb. 27 early dismissal.
“Even though some of the parents received (the alert) multiple times, dismissal went a lot more smoothly with less calls in to the buildings,” said Executive Director of Instruction and Assessment Betsy Conners.
The district has seen a huge uptick in activity on its two wireless networks. An average of 759 mobile-ready devices (such as laptops, tablets and smartphones) access the networks per week, and 2,680 such devices are in use this year. In 2011, only about 1,600 devices used the network.
Maturo said the district’s technology goals for the next school year are to install wireless networks at Fairgrieve and Volney, update software, prepare the network for computer-based assessments and introduce Schoology, a learning management system to improve “flipped” classroom-based learning.
- As part of Music in Our Schools Month, musicians from Carrie Foster’s fifth-grade band performed “A Little Bit of Swing” for the board.
Music teacher Debra Farden said 1,100 Fulton students will be performing at various music events in March.
Volney principal Lisa Garofalo then led the fifth-graders in singing “Happy Birthday” to Farden and Foster, as they both recently celebrated birthdays.
- Longtime board member Rosemary Occhino-Pilawa announced her resignation from the board, effective March 31. She cited her planned move from Fulton as the reason for her resignation. Occhino-Pilawa began serving in 2009.
- The next regular school board meeting will be at 7:30 p.m. March 25 at Fairgrieve Elementary School.