Fulton school board delays approving budget

By Ashley M. Casey

The 2014-15 Fulton City School District budget will have to wait another few weeks before board approval.

Superintendent Bill Lynch and Director of Finance Kathy Nichols presented drafts three and four at the board’s April 8 meeting, and the board is expected to accept the fourth draft at the April 23 meeting.

According to this fourth draft, the budget will total $67,357,685, up 3.22 percent from the 2013-14 year’s $65,259,100.

As Lynch promised previously, the local tax levy is estimated to increase only by 1 percent to $20,142,125. Last year’s levy was $19,942,968.”

Officials did not provide estimate of what the tax rate would be.

The current rate is  $26.64 per thousand of assessed value.

The fourth — and expected final — draft of the budget includes the final numbers on New York state aid to the district.

New York passed its budget March 31.

Fulton will receive a total of $41,842,822 from the state — $982,640 more than Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s executive proposal stated.

That total includes $29,549,437 in foundation aid and restores $1,080,129 to the gap elimination adjustment (GEA) of $1,546,394. This means the state will deduct only $466,265 from the district’s aid as part of the GEA.

“We were treated very, very favorably in the final budget,” Lynch said. “To have the increase in foundation aid is significant, and the gap restoration is as well.”

The prospective budget includes a few restorations of items cut from previous budgets:

  • Three teaching positions in kindergarten, first and second grade will be added to Volney Elementary School for $225,000.
  • The athletics department regains $25,000 for a strengthening coach and modified football and soccer coaches.
  • The third draft of the budget adds $80,000 for a special education position.

The fourth draft creates a new position as well: a mental health clinician for the elementary schools. The job pays $35,000.

Executive Director of Instruction and Assessment Betsy Conners said the district has been seeing more and more mental health issues in the elementary schools requiring law enforcement to be summoned.

The new mental health position will help reduce this problem.

“It’s become a serious concern for us,” Conners said.

Lynch said while the budget has grown 3.22 percent over last year, that’s a good thing.

“We’ve gone through some painful years,” he said. “Now, the finances appear to be changing and we’d like to take advantage of that.”

District residents will vote on the budget at the May 20 election.

Coming up

  • Over April break (April 14-18), renovations will continue across the district, including painting the floor in the Lanigan Elementary School gym, replacing floor tiles in G. Ray Bodley High School classrooms and removing asbestos in Fairgrieve Elementary School and the Education Center.
  • The next regular school board meeting will be at 7:30 p.m. April 23 at Granby Elementary School, 400 W. Seventh St. North.
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