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Much at stake in budget votes

June 17, 2012
The Leader Herald

Voters in two local school districts will be making important decisions Tuesday. Both districts are putting their school budgets up for a public vote for the second time after revising them.

Voters should make their decisions carefully. Much is at stake.

In the Fonda-Fultonville Central School District, voters will decide between noon and 9 p.m. in the school's auditorium whether to approve a $23.9 million budget that calls for a 3.5 percent tax increase. The district's previously proposed budget, defeated by voters May 15, sought an 8 percent tax increase, which was above the state-imposed tax cap for that district. The revised tax increase falls below the cap.

To save money, Fonda-Fultonville is freezing the salaries of all employees for 2012-13, keeping a buildings and grounds superintendent position vacant, and eliminating 10 full-time teaching jobs, 15 non-instructional positions and modified sports. As a result of the cutbacks, the district will have fewer academic offerings. If voters reject the budget, the district would have to make another $315,000 in cuts, which could include athletics, music, elementary art, kindergarten and enrichment courses, the school district says.

In the Oppenheim-Ephratah Central School District, voters will decide on an $8.5 million budget, which includes a 2.8 percent tax-levy increase. The district's previously proposed budget, defeated by voters in May, included a 4.5 percent tax-levy increase, which exceeded the state-imposed tax cap for the district. The revised budget meets the cap. The district reduced the tax-levy increase by using $41,000 from the district's fund balance. Compared with this year's budget, the 2012-13 proposal would include cuts in athletics, field trips and driver's education, among other areas. The budget would cut two non-instructional positions. If voters defeat the new proposal, the district would adopt a contingency budget, which would include a slight tax reduction but the elimination of a school bus purchase and computer purchases, said Superintendent Dan Russom. The vote will take place from noon to 8 p.m. in the gym lobby of the school.

We encourage people to educate themselves on their district's budget, consider what may happen if the plan goes down, and then go to the polls Tuesday and vote.



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