A taxpayer urged the Fulton Board of Education to take another look at plans to cut teaching positions to deal with a huge budget deficit.
Heather Crofoot, who works with the Head Start preschool program at Oswego County Opportunities, said, “What I read is we’re going to cut front line staff. We’re going to cut programs that meet the needs of the students. Why is it front line (positions being eliminated) and why is it starting at the bottom?”
The district’s $60.8 million proposed budget, still in draft form, raises the tax levy 3.8% and cuts 18 teaching and clerical jobs. It does not cut an administrative position, though two of the positions to be cut are teacher-on-special-assignment jobs. Those jobs have been used to perform administrative tasks. The current school year budget cut 10 positions, two of which were administrative.
Crofoot noted that her husband had to take a 10% pay cut at his job because of the economy. “I don’t hear that this is happening here,” she said. The district’s contract with two of its unions, including the teachers’ union, expires at the end of the school year.
“There isn’t a person up here who doesn’t agnoize over what to include (in cutbacks),” said board member Brian Hotaling. “It’s not a fun job.” “Sometimes your hands are tied,” said board president Robert Ireland. “You want to do what’s best for everybody.”
Later, the board reviewed the second draft of the proposed 2010-11 budget. Nothing had changed from the last review. There had been some hope that the State Senate’s budget proposal, approved Monday, would restore some of the $1.4 billion Gov. Paterson proposes to cut from education aid. The proposal did restore money for state parks, such as Fort Ontario, and for a host of other programs but it did not appear that education aid had been modified.
District financial administrator Kathy Nichols noted a late report Tuesday that said the state Assembly’s budget proposal would reduce education aid cuts to $800 million.
The state budget is due April 1. It is often late, occasionally by many months. School districts must adopt their budgets by mid-April and face the prospect of not knowing exactly how much aid they will be receiving.
It would be nice to count on an improved state aid picture, Superintendent of Schools Bill Lynch said, but “we have to be sure that what the state offers us, they’ll actually give us.” He noted that school districts barely escaped state aid cuts in the middle of the current school year.