FULTON, NY – The Fulton City School District Board of Education unanimously approved the school’s final $70,336,500 budget for the 2016-2017 school year, a 2.47% increase from the current budget.
Increased state aid in the amount of $1.1 million and an additional $268,000 increase in expense driven aids allowed the district to eliminate the $702,581 shortfall they faced during the draft process of budget development.
“The foundation aid increase is monumental to our district,” said Superintendent of Schools William Lynch.
More so, they were able to lower the use of Designated Fund Balance from $1 million to $676,000.
The total budget brings forth a $1,695,439 increase from the current school year budget stemming from a $472,033 increase in the program budget, a $1,097,072 increase in the capital budget and a $126,334 increase in the administrative budget.
“The capital portion is the largest increase we see there,” said Superintendent Lynch.
However, he explained that school officials have added a Capital Project Outlay not to exceed $100,000 and have increased their amount of debt payment.
The Capital Project Outlay entails up to $100,000 worth of improvements throughout the district that can be made in the 2016-2017 school year following State Education Department approval and would receive anywhere from 90-98% in aid in the 2017-2018 school year.
Site work at the education center such as rehabilitating the sidewalks, which is currently an alternate in the district’s capital project has been identified as qualified work for the Capital Project Outlay.
Aside from adding the increased capital budget, school officials also added $241,424 to the general fund for “Community Schools” required through the state budget and is funded by an equivalent amount set aside from foundation aid.
The local tax levy increased to $20,583,063; an $88,451 increase from the current school year that stays within the permissible levy limit with a simple majority.
The final budget approved by unanimous vote of the Board of Education also allowed for FCSD to replace retirements, lower primary sections class sizes to approximately 20 students per grade level section (kindergarten through second grade), maintain all current FTE positions from the current school year, and maintain all current educational programs, services and opportunities all while using less reserves than previous years.
In total, the FCSD used $624,000 less of all reserves combined than in the current school year.
“We are able to be less reliant on reserves. That is something, that if the district can maintain that, we will continue to be in a good place,” said Lynch. “We are very fortunate to be having this conversation at this point in time because the budget process is a long one and you never know where you’ll end up.”
Board of Education member Christine Plath expressed her gratitude for everyone in the district and their overall ability to allow the district to be in good standing.
“I just want to say great job to the staff and administrators. We are in a good financial position, I mean, we are adding people, our programs are flourishing. It’s just a great feeling to know that our district is thriving financially and educationally,” she said.
The budget will go for the public vote on May 17 from 9 a.m. until 9 p.m. with voters residing on the east side of the city to vote at Cayuga Community College while voters residing on the west side of the city will vote at CiTi Fulton Campus.
“I am very pleased with the budget the board approved. We are very thankful for the state government, the governors proposal and legislatures enhancements that increased state aid and for providing it at a ratio that is fair and equitable which helps to benefit low wealth, high need districts like ours. When we do get money, we are able to do great things with it so we are grateful. We also do multi-year budgeting, so a lot of past decisions have helped us get here and the decisions we make now will continue to benefit the district in the future. Overall, I am very gratified. This is a long process and we are able to end it without needing to take anything away from our district,” said Superintendent Lynch.