Facing a $500,000 shortfall, the Fonda-Fultonville Board of Education had to make some tough decisions in the district's current budget. The district ended up eliminating two jobs - those of a business education teacher and a school psychologist - and closing the pool, eliminating a bus run and changing retirees' insurance, among other cost-reduction moves.
Thanks to coaches volunteering their time and Brown Transportation donating bus services for sports teams, the district was able to restore the spring sports program, which the board previously had cut.
As difficult as the budget reductions will be for some, the school board made a reasonable decision.
Some parents and teachers showed up at a meeting this week to protest the loss of school psychologist Michael J. Fraser. "Doc" Fraser served kindergarten through 12th-grade students for 19 years. We're sure many people are grateful for his assistance.
Unfortunately, staff members have been and likely will continue to be casualties of the financial troubles facing schools, Interim Superintendent Ray Colucciello points out.
Despite the loss of Fraser, Scott Rice, director of special programs in the district, says the district has the resources to meet the counseling needs of the students. It has three full-time guidance counselors and a social worker, a school psychologist from the Board of Cooperative Educational Services who provides services three days a week and a certified school counselor from Catholic Charities who offers services four days a week. The district also has access to other community resources for students in need of counseling.
Rice says the school's teachers and teacher's aides are trained to help students with problems. "There's not one adult in our building who would turn away a student in need," Rice says.
The school district was fortunate to get the volunteer help and transportation contribution to save the spring sports program, which costs about $20,000 and serves some 130 students.
The next step in the district's Financial Stability Plan is to develop a 2013-14 budget "that will maintain stability, build fund balance, and provide programs the students need and deserve that the community will support," the plan states.
Today, the district is a little closer to reaching that goal.