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Tuesday, September 30, 2014
Amsterdam, NY ,

Nicole Antonucci/Recorder staff Michael Lewis and Dennis Egelston are sworn in as the new members of the Fonda-Fultonville Central District Board of Education during the annual reorganizational meeting in Fonda Monday.

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New F-F board grapples with the bottom line

Tuesday, July 08, 2014 - Updated: 10:01 AM

By NICOLE ANTONUCCI

nicole.antonucci@recordernews.com

FONDA -- The Fonda-Fulton-ville Central School District Board of Education tackled several issues during its annual reorganizational meeting Tuesday.

The two-hour session began with the swearing-in of new board members Dennis Egelston and Michael Lewis, who are replacing John Wiltey and Timothy Wendell for two three-year terms.

Board member Matthew Sullivan was elected as the new board president and Bonnie Couture is the new vice president.

Carey Shultz was reappointed district treasurer and Lori Coons as district clerk. Superintendent Raymond Colucciello was also appointed deputy clerk.

However, as the board moved on to approve other annual appointments and contracts for the 2014-15 year, several underlying issues in the district were raised.

One of the main issues the board tackled was the lack of substitute teachers in the district, which was mentioned when board members approved substitute reimbursement rates for next year.

The district is proposing to reimburse certified substitute teachers $85 per day, which reflects a $10 increase from last year. Uncertified teachers would be paid $75 per day.

However, Sullivan questioned whether the board should increase the rate even more after he learned that the district had trouble getting substitutes to fill in.

"If it is an issue then we need to investigate it. We need to be competitive with the rest of the marketplace," he said. "However, first we need to encourage our teachers to be here."

Colucciello said the lack of substitutes is a weekly concern.

Shultz explained that the additional $10 puts the district around the same rate as neighboring districts. The Greater Amsterdam School District has the highest rate in the area with $94 a day, Johnstown and Gloversville pay $86. Canajoharie, Mayfield, Fort Plain and Broadalbin-Perth all pay around $80 a day for a substitute.

"These are last year's numbers so they may be higher now," Shultz said.

When Sullivan asked how the district addresses the lack of substitute teachers, associate superintendent and elementary school principal Thomas Ciaccio replied that it depends on who is available. Teachers will either combine the classes or fill in temporarily. The principal is also known to fill in, he said.

Shultz added that part of the increase has to do with the minimum wage that was increased last year.

Sullivan suggested the board approve the proposed rates and if an issue arises during the year, the board address it then.

Things were momentarily heated when board members approved the rates for the drivers education teachers.

Board member Kelley O'Kosky noticed that the position paid more than a position for summer school teachers.

Summer school teachers are being paid $25 an hour while another resolution for the driver education teacher proposed $31 an hour.

"Why are we paying our drivers education teacher more than our teachers?" board member Mary Frollo asked.

Shultz explained that the salary has always been higher since he first started with the district.

Colucciello said it is not fair to change the rates, which have been in place for years.

"You want to knock them down for $5, be my guest," he said. "You can do what you want to do but we have to run the place. These people have done this job and they have done it well."

Couture said there are people who would do the job for $25 an hour.

Frollo asked if the job was posted but Colucciello said he was not sure. Frollo said the issue goes back to having a consistent hiring process for all positions.

Sullivan pointed out that it was too late to change the rates as the contracts have already been put into place.

"We need to take notes and talk about this for next year," he said.

Several resolutions hiring summer help for the technology and cleaning department raised concerns about safety and security.

O'Kosky asked if the workers are required to get background checks but Shultz explained that since their job functions are limited, the background checks are not mandatory.

However Frollo suggested the board consider creating a policy requiring everyone to get fingerprinted.

Among the resolutions to fail, the board refused to designate an increase in the tuition rate for non-resident students of the district. For the past three years, tuition has remained steady at $4,117 but this year, there was a proposal to increase the rate to $5,100.

The increase would impact six students.

"I don't feel comfortable penalizing someone who is making a choice academically to bring a child here, because that is what we are here for," Egelston said.

Sullivan agreed, stating that he didn't see the necessity to increase the rate for five children.

O'Kosky said the board had previously agreed not to change the rate.

A resolution to approve legal services from Girvin and Ferlazzo for the 2014-15 school year was taken off the agenda until next the meeting after board members said they were not clear about the details in the contract.

According to the resolution, a $25,000 retainer will be paid to cover 175 hours of billing. The fee for legal services is $160 an hour. Litigation and hearings will cost $180 an hour.

Part of the terms require the district to pay for any significant costs incurred by the firm on behalf of the district. Such costs are large photocopying projects, large postage fees, witness fees and court fees.

"What does large mean?" Egelston said, adding he is also not clear about what happens if the board doesn't use all of the hours for legal services.

Sullivan suggested the resolution with the terms of service be clarified and be brought back to the board at the next meeting.

Colucciello agreed and told the board to the send him any questions.

The matter is expected to be discussed at the July 28 board meeting.

     

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