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F-F committee to look at cuts

November 20, 2012
By ARTHUR CLEVELAND , The Leader Herald

FONDA - Fonda-Fultonville Central School District officials announced Monday the district will have its first budget committee meeting Monday to find ways to save $500,000 to help the district's depleted fund balance.

The meeting, scheduled for 6:30 p.m. in the multi-purpose room, is open to the public. Attendees will get to express their concerns and mention their proposed cuts.

"We want to hear what people have to say," interim Superintendent Patrick Michel said.

The goal of the meetings is to determine the cuts needed to help build up the district's fund balance and avert cash-flow problems at the end of the school year.

In June, the district had a roughly $500,000 fund balance, but payments to teachers and unexpected insurance costs depleted the fund.

"We'll talk about the traditional way of right-sizing a district, which means cutting positions. Then, we'll talk about what I've proposed, which is taking a look at other means. [Then], we'll talk about how we're going to do it," Michel said.

Without spending cuts, the district would face a $1.4 million budget gap for 2013-14, requiring the tax levy to go up about 20 percent.

The district may consider cutting health insurance and transportation costs, officials said.

"We can either kick the can down the road or deal with it now," Michel said. "I've recommended the creation of the committee so we don't have to borrow to pay the deferred checks. If we borrow, I don't know how we'd pay it back. It's like paying your electricity bill with a credit card."

Questions arose at the meeting on what would be cut, with some parents at the meeting worried winter sports would be removed from the budget.

However, Michel said cutting winter sports would be cruel, since some students already have begun practicing for the season.

Michel, who also serves as the Hamilton-Fulton-Montgomery Board of Cooperative Educational Services superintendent, said cost-cutting measures could include switching retirees to a Medicare Advantage Plan, similar to what Montgomery County government did recently.

The committee will be composed of 15 members, some of whom are school employees while others are members of the community. They include Michel, Board of Education members Linda Wszolek, Tim Wendell and Matt Sullivan, district Treasurer Carey Shultz, high school guidance counselor Deana Lenz, special programs director Scott Rice, high school secretary Robyn Rose, special education teacher Art Dockerty and members of the community Bonnie Couture, Jason Etherton, Pamela Marshall, Kathleen Georgia, Marianne Suchocki and Montgomery County IDA Director Ken Rose.



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