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District proposes using additional state aid to lower tax levy increase; budget vote is Tuesday, May 21

Fayetteville-Manlius School District residents will vote Tuesday, May 21, on a proposed $85.9 million 2019-20 school budget that maintains existing student programming and enhances academic and security initiatives, which community members continue to identify as top priorities.

The district has two primary revenue sources: state aid and the tax levy.  The tax levy is the total amount of money the district collects from property owners within the district to support the school budget.

Due to reductions in state aid over the last decade, the tax levy has continued to fund a greater share of the budget. State aid would make up 23% of the district’s 2019-20 proposed budget while taxpayers would fund 74%.

The district’s preliminary 2019-20 tax levy increase was based on the governor’s January executive budget proposal, which allocated a foundation aid increase of only $94,458 to the district. The budget approved by the state Legislature shows F-M’s foundation aid, which is the district’s base operating aid from the state, increasing by $172,373.

The district is proposing to use the additional aid in the final state budget and $750,000 from its fund balance to reduce F-M’s tax levy increase from $2,975,990 to $1,813,843 compared to the current 2018-19 budget.

The tax levy is one of the factors used to calculate the tax rate, which is typically less than the tax levy because of growth in the property tax base. The 2.94% increase is estimated to generate a tax rate increase of about 0.24%—or $6.21 on $100,000 of taxable value—for residents in the town of Manlius. (The town of Manlius makes up the majority of homeowners within the school district.)

“Our goal each year is to develop a budget that meets the needs of the district’s students, staff and facilities and reflects the community feedback we receive on its priorities and expectations of the district,” Superintendent Craig J. Tice said. “This budget proposal maintains student programming and services, adds critical academic supports and enhances our ongoing security improvements.”

Because the proposal is below the district’s 3.16% tax levy increase limit, or cap, a simple majority of voters will need to approve the budget for it to pass.

The 2019-20 proposed budget includes about $250,000 to address enhanced security districtwide based upon recommendations made by the district’s Safety and Security Community Task Force, which was made up of made up of representatives from all six school buildings, including parents and F-M High School students.

The group submitted a report to the board of education in April and focused on enhancements in the following areas:

  • Facility access and security;
  • Emergency communications;
  • Safety training; and
  • Mental health.