Fredonia schools approve ballot

OBSERVER Photo by M.J. Stafford Fredonia Board of Education Vice President Cristina Gegenschatz, left, and District Superintendent Jeffrey Sortisio, right, listen as Board of Education President Michael Bobseine opens Tuesday’s 2019-20 budget hearing and board meeting.

No one from the public spoke Tuesday as the Fredonia Board of Education formalized its 2019-20 budget proposal for the May 21 ballot.

The $30,306,737 spending plan has the same tax levy as the 2018-19 budget. It represents a 6.58% decrease in spending from 2018-19, however.

John Forbes, district business administrator, attributed that to a big drop in debt service because the Vision 2020 bonds are going off the books. The district will spend $2,396,275 less in debt service in the 2019-20 school year, a decrease of 73.7%.

Forbes also noted a health insurance savings of 3.2% in the 2019-20 plan due to a switch in coverage plans.

However, these are offset by the loss of $2,214,833 in aid from New York state. The district will get $12,610,743 in state aid in the 2019-20 school year, down from $14,825,576 in 2018-19, according to Forbes’ numbers.

District employees’ salaries are going up 1.84%. Forbes said the proposed budget adds three teachers in the middle school and one position in the business office. It accommodates five retirements of teachers along with the replacement of all five.

After Forbes’ presentation, and a public hearing on the budget that had no speakers, the board approved the budget as a proposal for the May 21 district election. It also added a second proposition to the ballot, that the district start a capital reserve fund for construction work. The fund would be capped at $750,000 and that amount would be put together over a 10-year period.

Superintendent Jeff Sortisio, an advocate of the fund at recent board meetings, said on Tuesday, “It’s a good way to use positive fiscal times to offset future costs.”


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