FONDA - Residents of the Fonda-Fultonville Central School District listened to the superintendent explain the proposed 2012-13 budget at a hearing Monday.
District Superintendent James D. Hoffman told those attending that the $24.19 million budget approved by the Board of Education is 1.3 percent lower than the current $24.51 million spending plan - the third consecutive year the budget has decreased from the year before. Even so, the budget calls for a 7.96 percent increase in the tax levy - the amount of money to be raised through property taxes - and the elimination of 25 jobs.
The increase in the levy is above the state-mandated tax cap. In order for the budget to pass, 60 percent of voters would have to approve it May 15.
James Hoffman, left, superintendent of the Fonda-Fultonville Central School District, makes a point during Monday night’s public hearing on the proposed 2012-13 budget.
The Leader-Herald/John R. Becker
To stay within the tax cap, the tax increase would have to be 4.76 percent or less.
Overriding the tax cap will mean interscholastic sports can remain in the budget, Hoffman said. If the budget is defeated, sports and other programs, such as advanced-placement courses, could be eliminated.
"The proposed budget contains no additional opportunities for students," Hoffman said.
All three bargaining units in the district - administrators, teachers and support staff - have agreed to wage freezes for the coming year.
If voters reject the budget, state law allows the Board of Education to resubmit the same spending plan or a revised one for another vote, Hoffman said. If it fails a second time, the district must adopt a budget with no increase in the tax levy, he said.
Even if the budget passes, 25 staff positions would be eliminated, Hoffman said. At least half of those, however, are through attrition, he said.
Hoffman said $11.2 million, or 40 percent of the proposed budget, goes toward instruction, including teachers' salaries. Another 26 percent goes to employee benefits. General support services take 12 percent of the budget, debt service 8 percent and transportation 9 percent, he said.
Hoffman said state aid has decreased over the last three years, from $15.43 million to $12.96 million.
"It's not all the state's fault," he said. "They just didn't have the money."
Hoffman said the district's staff has been reduced by 25 percent over the last six years.
"If you haven't noticed a decrease in what your kids are offered, it's because teachers, administrators and staff have picked up the ball and run with it," he said. "We have done just about everything we can to keep the core program going. Believe me, it was not done lightly."