The Fonda-Fultonville Central School District is caught between the proverbial rock and a hard place over funding extracurricular activities this coming school year.
The current school budget, approved by the community, has no money for extracurricular clubs and class advisers. These activities cannot occur without adult advisers, and those advisers would normally be paid a stipend for their effort.
The teachers' contract requires that teachers be given first dibs on these advisory positions before someone else could be paid for these functions. Unpaid community volunteers cannot be utilized without agreement from the teachers' union.
The district's budget is a natural consequence of state funding cutbacks and voters' understandable reluctance to OK higher taxes to cover increased costs, though some school board members were not aware this specific problem would arise.
Interim Superintendent Patrick Michel says that some 32 extracurricular activities will be affected by budget cutbacks and that "well over" $40,000 - for stipends between $250 and $2,000 - would be needed to fund all these activities. Among those activities affected are the purchase of graduation gowns, the senior banquet, the junior prom, the National Honor Society, the service-oriented Key Club, two high school drama programs, bowling club, the yearbook, the student newspaper and student government.
Two things are written in stone: the school budget and the teachers' contract, which includes teachers' agreeing to a pay freeze and health-care concessions. Both run until the end of 2012-13 school year.
Extracurricular activities offer both educational and wholesome recreational activities for young people, who happen to be caught in the middle of adult money problems.
Perhaps not every extracurricular activity can be saved, but it's our hope that administrators, teachers and the community will put their heads together soon to salvage programs for this school year.