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Amsterdam: $57.7 million budget not expected to increase taxes

Friday, May 14, 2010
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— Voters in the Greater Amsterdam School District will vote on a proposed budget Tuesday that is not expected to increase taxes.

Voters will also chose three new Board of Education members from among four candidates.

The $57.7 million budget for 2010-11 school year would collect $18.4 million from taxpayers, the same amount collected in the current 2009-10 budget. The proposed budget raises spending by about $2.5 million but uses reserves to cover that.

The proposed budget uses $4.6 million from the district’s fund balance, $190,000 from a tax reduction reserve account and $700,000 from what Perillo called “deferred reserves,” leaving the district with about $2 million in reserves.

The proposed budget retains all programs; however, it does eliminate six full-time and one part-time position. Three of those positions will be through retirements.

Four candidates are running for three open seats on the district’s Board of Education: Rebecca Cozzocrea of Tremont Avenue, John Bottisti of Stella Lane, Carol Greco of Miami Avenue, and Paula Hawkins of Truax Road.

Cozzocrea is the director of financial aid at Fulton-Montgomery Community College, where she has worked for 10 years. She started working in a financial aid office at The College of Saint Rose where she received a master’s degree in education.

Cozzocrea, 38, has two young children, one will be attending kindergarten and one pre-kindergarten in the district this fall.

Cozzocrea said she is familiar with putting together budgets. She said she thinks the district needs to accentuate its positives because “everyone is working really hard and teachers have a tough job.”

Bottisti, 55, is the manager of the Stewart’s Shops Credit Union. The credit union is a small institution with only one branch, so Bottisti said he is essentially the chief executive officer of the company.

Bottisti’s two daughters graduated from Amsterdam High School and are now teachers in the district. His daughters are what made him want to be a member of the board of education.

The family has lived in Amsterdam for 30 years.

Bottisti said his 30 years of banking experience could be useful to the board when putting together a budget and staying financially on track.

He said this year’s board put together a good budget, but “we need to keep an eye on things because in the next few years it won’t be so easy.”

Greco, 51, is completing her first term on the board. She is director of addiction services at St. Mary’s Hospital.

Greco said her previous three years of experience on the board will be useful in the coming years. She said her first year or two on the board was a learning experience as she learned about school finances and the personnel structure. She said she would like to continue to be apart of what she called the positive changes happening within the district.

Paula Hawkins, 45, of Amsterdam, is a dental hygenist at New Dimensions in Health Care. She said she primarily works with disabled, special needs, and lower income populations.

Hawkins said she has always been involved in the district. Her son is a ninth-grader at Amsterdam High School. As a mom and taxpayer, she said she understands the balance between a quality education and the ability to pay for it.

“I like being involved,” she said. “I think I can make a difference.”

Voting will take place throughout the district from noon to 9 p.m. Tuesday, May 18. The proposed budget is available to view on the district’s website at www.gasd.org.

How to vote

WHEN: Tuesday, May 18, from noon to 9 p.m.

WHERE: Polling places include all district elementary schools, the Fulmont Head Start on Truax Road, Minaville Town Hall and the Resource Center for Independent Living. Call the district clerk at 843-5217 to find your voting location or visit the district’s website at www.gasd.org.

 
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