F-M proposes no program cuts or reductions in 2014-15

Fayetteville-Manlius School District officials are proposing a 2014-15 budget that includes no major cuts to existing programs and services and allows the district to convert its half-day kindergarten program to full-day – a change that the state will fully pay for in its first year.

The district’s $77.9 million preliminary 2014-15 budget includes a 1.97 percent increase in spending and a tax levy increase of 2.49 percent. District officials presented the spending plan to the F-M Board of Education at its March 10 meeting.

School officials stressed that this is a preliminary projection. The board is expected to adopt a proposed 2014-15 spending plan Wednesday, April 9. District residents will then vote on the proposed budget on Tuesday, May 20.

A major program change that will occur for the 2014-15 school year will be the expansion of the district’s kindergarten program. The board voted in January to convert the existing half- day program to full-day, and it will receive about $733,000 from the state to do so. That money is expected to cover the full cost of the program in its first year (2014-15) and will pay for a portion of the program’s costs in its second year. After that, the district will be responsible for the full cost – about $500,000 – and administrators are already looking to identify budget efficiencies to help offset those future costs.

“To best prepare our students for the future and the rigor of the Common Core Learning Standards, our teachers need more time with our kindergarten students, and our students need more time to absorb, process and practice the information presented,” Superintendent Corliss Kaiser said. “Our goal with this budget is to allow that to happen, keep our existing programs and services in place and maintain our fiscal responsibility to the community.”

The district has adhered to a “reduce, don’t eliminate” philosophy in recent budget years, reducing where possible instead of eliminating programs and services. Previous reductions and cost-saving measures include reducing staff primarily through attrition; cutting supply budgets district-wide; and reducing transportation for after-school activities from five days to four.

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