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Fulton Schools Begin To Build Next Budget

Fulton City School District officials have begun to build a budget for the 2010-11 school year.  They don’t know what the outcome will be yet, but they do know what it will take to keep next year everything the district has this year.

If state aid to the school district remains at this year’s level, it’ll take a 4.71% increase in the tax levy — about $2.7 million — to keep things the way they are now.

That’s a big “if”, though.

Gov. David Paterson has been urging cuts in state aid to schools.  Aid was reduced for the current school year, but federal stimulus funding was used to fill the gap and prevent massive layoffs.  Fulton officials estimated that stimulus funds either preserved or created 61 jobs this school year.

The prospect of state aids cuts “presents some serious obstacles,” Superintendent of Schools Bill Lynch said.

Board of Education member Robbin Griffin noted that avoiding a budget cut may rest on the assumption of leaders of the state Legislature that state revenues will go up.  So far, revenues have stayed down.

The district and board are holding public meetings to develop the budget, which the public will vote on in May.  Board members, administrators and three members of the public are part of the budget committee, the meetings of which are open to the public.

The committee’s next meeting is Tuesday, January 19 at 7:00 p.m. in the Board Room of the Education Center. Minutes of those meetings, along with other budget-related documents, are posted on the district’s website.

The school district released a letter Friday morning about the budget process.  It is presented below:

Dear Residents of the Fulton City School District,

The school district has begun the process of developing the school district budget for the 2010-11 school year, and in keeping with our practice next year’s budget will be created through a budget committee process. The budget committee is comprised of members of the Board of Education, central and building administration and residents of our community. The committee began meeting on January 5th and will meet twice each month through March. The Board of Education will approve the 2010-11 budget on April 13th and the registered voters in the district will vote on the proposed budget on May 18th.

Creating the 2010-11 budget presents serious challenges and obstacles for our budget committee and our community. Our nation, state and local community are facing economic down turns that have resulted in many community members being out of work or fearing for the stability of their employment, or maintaining their current earning power. Further, the state economy is down and the state budget in Albany has been in a fiscal and political crisis. This has a critical impact on our school district budget as 65% of our district budget is funded through state aid from Albany. These factors have combined to place pressure on our potential district budget, not only in 2010-11 but for several years to come.

As a school district, our Board of Education and administration face the challenge, and this year the dilemma, of providing our students with a quality education to prepare them for the work force, college or the military in a manner that is fiscally responsible and fair to you, our district residents and tax payers. Should we not meet our responsibility on the education side of this equation, our students will not be ready for the next phase of their life’s path upon leaving high school. Further, state and federal requirements or mandates predetermine many decisions of our and other local school districts. Balanced with this challenge is our recognition that you as local tax payers have been consistently supportive of our students, our schools and our school district as you contribute at a high rate through your local school taxes.

The work of the budget committee in the up coming months will be to analyze, assess and recommend to me, as Superintendent of Schools, what funding level we can support. These decisions will include advice on what courses, programs and services the committee believes should be in the district’s offerings and aligned with what the district should budget to expend to support our students’ education next year. The ultimate spending plan for the school district will be adopted by the Board of Education

The school district posts all budget committee meeting agendas, meeting notes and working information on the district web site at www.fulton.cnyric.org. Throughout our budget process we will keep the community informed through district web postings and news releases to the local media.

Sincerely,

William R. Lynch

Superintendent of Schools