Updated 05/16/2012 10:13 PM
Fonda-Fultonville Central School District defeats budget proposal
While most Montgomery County districts voted yes on proposed school budgets, others did not. Our Maria Valvanis has more on the essentials one school is going to have to give up.
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MONTGOMERY COUNTY, N.Y. -- Matthew Bowler said, “I'll have so much extra time I won't know what to do with it.”
A problem most of us could only dream of, but fifth grader Matthew Bowler is getting his extra time by giving up something he's been waiting for.
“The minute I heard about the band and chorus, I was all interested,” Bowler said.
Fifty-seven percent of Fonda-Fultonville Central School district residents voted no on the $24.2 million budget, meaning starting next school year, students can expect to see quite a few staples missing.
Matthew's mother, Katie, said, “The sports and a lot of the programs. Arts and music. A lot of programs being cut. People losing their jobs.”
With state aid being lowered nearly $3 million from last year, school board member John Witley says the proposed budget was one of the toughest they've ever had.
“When we had our previous meetings, they wanted sports, they wanted kindergarten, they wanted the district to stay the same. But with the shortness of money, we couldn't do it,” Witley said.
However, many residents couldn't do the proposed budget. With a nearly eight percent tax increase, well over the state's cap, some say it was simply out of the question.
“Honest to God, and I mean this sincerely. It's gotten to the point where people just can't afford this anymore and that’s the bottom line,” said Mohawk resident Ron Smith.
Fonda resident Paul Luft said, “The state passes a law and we seem to ignore it.”
As discouraging as the vote was, moving along, the focus will remain the same.
“The kids. It’s always been the kids,” said Witley.
Katie Bowler adds, “A lot of sadness out there today for what's going to happen to these guys. They’re our future.”
“We really love our programs and we would hate to say goodbye,” said Matthew Bowler.
Looking forward, the school board does have the option to resubmit the spending plan, with or without any changes. However, if it fails again, the district will be forced to adopt a budget, with zero tax increase.