Six Fort Plain Central School faculty and administrative staff retire

Six Fort Plain Central School faculty and administrative staff are retiring at the end of the 2017-18 school year, concluding more than 100 years of combined work in the education field.

Three colleagues laughing at a retirement party

Those that are retiring are:

Donna Yerdon, Elementary Teacher, 30 Years
Judy King, Teacher Aide, 13 Years
Carl Rockefeller, Business Manager, 34 Years
Nancy Wilder, Science Teacher, 32 years
Meredith Yacobucci, Clerk/Typist, 40 Years
Linda Seeley, Clerk/Typist, 10 Years

Congratulations and best wishes to this group of individuals who have devoted their lives to supporting the children of Fort Plain.

Sign up for Driver’s Ed

Fort Plain students are invited to take Driver’s Education this summer. Participants must have their NYS learner’s permit by June 30 in order to take the class. Please contact Mrs. Linda Cole at or (518) 993-4000 by June 15 if you are interested. Class size is limited. 

Yearbook honors Nancy Wilder

Three high school girls flank woman in school hallway.
Fort Plain yearbook editors (left to right) Eryka Swank, Kendall Kennedy, and Emily Marsh announce the 2018 yearbook is dedicated to Fort Plain science teacher Nancy Wilder (center), who is retiring after 32 years.

The 2018 Fort Plain Yearbook is dedicated to science teacher Nancy Wilder who is retiring after 32 years serving Fort Plain students. Also receiving thanks from the Class of 2018 were class advisers Paula Colvin and Laurie Capece and teachers Margaret DiBiase, Patrick Hanifin, Tara Hayes and Will Ryan.

Voters approve 2018-19 budget

Fort Plain School District voters went to polls on Tuesday, May 15 and approved the district’s proposed 2018-19 school budget. The budget passed with 80.7 percent in favor.

The $20,500,000 budget increases spending 3.07 percent or $610,000 over the current year and carries nt tax levy increase.

The final count was:

  • Yes— 167
  • No— 40

Voter approved a proposition to purchase new  school buses. The final count was:

  • Yes— 163
  • No— 43

Voters approved a proposition to increase funding  $5,000 to $80,000 for the Fort Plain Free Library. The final count was:

  • Yes— 134
  • No— 72

Voters also elected Mary Beth Hudyncia and Kim Keane to the Board of Education. The final count for each candidate was:

  • Mary Beth Hudyncia—180
  • Kim Keane—177

Harry Hoag food drive is a huge success

Harry Hoag students showed they truly care by donating more than 1,000 items during a three-week food drive in March. Students in Ms. Slawienski’s and Mrs. Caponera’s study hall organized, advertised, sorted, and packed. After spring recess, they delivered all of the donations to the Helping Hands food pantry at the DH Robbins School in St. Johnsville.

Fort Plain Jr./Sr. High earns U.S. News & World Report Silver Medal

Fort Plain Junior-Senior High School earned a Silver Medal ranking in the U.S. News & World Report’s 2018 annual ranking of U.S. high schools. The report ranks Fort Plain as 169th out of 1263 New York high schools (top 13 percent) and 1,921st out of 20,548 U.S. high schools (top 9 percent).

Each year, the publication looks at data from high schools around the country to determine which schools are doing the best job of preparing students for their futures. Specifically, it focuses on four measures:

  1. How well all students score on math and English language arts assessments.
  2. How well traditionally underserved students (minorities and low-income) perform on math and science assessments.
  3. Graduation rates.
  4. Percentage of students taking high-rigor Advanced Placement (or International Baccalaureate) exams and pass rate.

This is the third consecutive year Fort Plain earned a medal ranking. The school earned silver in 2016 and bronze in 2017.


NYS Regent gives Fort Plain school a big thumbs-up

closeup of woman listening intently to young girl“This place is looking forward,” said New York State Regent Beverly Ouderkirk as she ended her half-day visit to Fort Plain Central Schools on Apr. 24.

“I see so much good happening; I am so high afterward,” she added.

Ms. Ouderkirk is the Regent who represents much of Northeastern New York on the state’s Board of Regents. The board works with the Commissioner of Education to establish the policies that guide education throughout the state. Her region includes six BOCES and more than 100 school districts.

She said she is just a normal human being and gets down when she hears the negativism about schools and students. But when she comes into schools such as Fort Plain and speaks to educators and students she sees enthusiasm, hard work, and great ideas.

“There is so much good happening. After these visits, I know things are going to be okay,” she said.

On her visit, she stopped in at both the Junior/Senior High school and Harry Hoag Elementary. She spoke with administrators, teachers, and students about their programs and their learning.

Man in technology classroom talks to womanHer first stop was to the Academic Coaching Center. This was a first for her as few districts offer anything like this credit recovery and support system. She moved on to enjoy  lunch prepared by Lisa Petty’s life skills class. Her last stop was Craig Heroth’s technology classroom where she marveled at students’ hands-on projects. She listened intently as he described the school’s new technology pathway to graduation that begins next year.

At Harry Hoag, she dropped into several third and fourth grade classrooms. She observed the teachers, but was most interested to speak with students. Sitting by their desks she asked questions about what they were learning and how they were tackling the high level assignments. The children excitedly described their work.

Man and woman standing at bookshelf in library watching“As a K-12 educator, Regent Ouderkirk brings a unique perspective to the Board of Regents,” said Superintendent David Ziskin.

“Her passion for students is at the forefront of everything she does.”

Ms. Ouderkirk praised Fort Plain for its efforts to tackle the challenges of student behavior, poverty, and student achievement. She was especially impressed by the mindfulness program that teaches children to way to collect themselves in stressful moments.

two woman lean over desk watching as two girls explain their workShe admitted that people from cities and larger schools do not realize the great things taking place in small, rural schools.

“I plan to carry what I have learned back to Albany,” she said.

Proposed budget carries no tax levy increase

On Tuesday, May 15th, residents of the Fort Plain Central School District will go to the polls to vote on the district’s proposed $20,500,000 budget for the 2018-19 school year—a budget that carries no tax levy increase. The proposal would increase spending 3.07 percent or $610,000 compared to 2017-18. The increase is offset by an increase in state aid and the district’s steps to control costs and improve efficiencies. Because the levy increase is
below the district’s 4.13 percent limit under New York’s tax levy limit law, the proposal will require a simple majority (50 percent plus one) of votes to pass.

Budget highlights

This year’s proposed budget stands apart from most school budgets in the region for two reasons. First, Fort Plain’s proposed tax levy remains below the 2012-13 levy. In other words, the district will collect less taxes in
2018-19 than it did six years ago. Second, the cost of employee benefits is lower than it was in 2014-15. This is in contrast to higher tax levies and rising employee benefit costs in schools throughout the Capital Region as reported in the media.

The proposed budget includes no program cuts. It also addresses critical areas of student learning, safety, and support while leveraging fiscal resources in a manner that does not increase the burden on local taxpayers.

“Our administrative and school teams continually reflect on the allocation of our resources, making adjustments to programming that ensure our greatest areas of need are supported,” said Dr. David Ziskin, Superintendent of Schools.

“The 2018-19 budget is closely aligned to our district mission and will improve the education our students receive at no additional cost to our taxpayers. In fact, our total tax levy will still be less than it was in 2012-13.”

On the revenue side, Fort Plain will receive an additional $325,000 in Foundation Aid in the 2018-19 New York state budget compared to last
year. Foundation Aid is unrestricted money that districts can use for everyday expenses. Like other area districts, Fort Plain relies heavily on Foundation Aid., which combined with aid for reimbursed expenses make up more than two thirds of the district’s annual revenue.

Resources directed to identified priority areas

The board, administrators, and faculty teams at the Junior-Senior High School and Harry Hoag Elementary continue to identify opportunities for improvement and to implement corresponding action plans within each of the district’s identified priority areas.

Areas supported in the 2018-19 proposed budget include:

Priority Area: Safety and student social and emotional developmental health

In the wake of the recent tragedies that have struck many of the nation’s schools, Fort Plain is taking an important step to keep students safe. Every school day, a School Safety Officer will travel back and forth between Harry Hoag Elementary School and the Junior-Senior High School. The officer—actually two part-time officers—will work with school officials to keep
students and staff safe throughout the school day. They will also help school counselors address student concerns.

Priority Area: Curriculum development and support

Dr. Cheryl Dozier, a University at Albany professor nationally recognized for her childhood literacy expertise, will return to Harry Hoag Elementary School for the fourth consecutive year. Dr. Dozier works with grade-level teams, demonstrating proven strategies that improve student literacy.
The district’s technology pathway to graduation will become a reality in 2018-19. Students will follow a theme-based approach that includes high school coursework, leading to college credits, or industry certification, as well as a high school diploma. Graduates will meet the requirements for entry-level positions in microchip technology such as those offered
at GlobalFoundries.

Priority Area: Family and community engagement

The district is expanding its partnership with the Family Counseling Center of Gloversville, which provides a Family-Peer Advocate at the Junior-Senior
High School.

“The current counselor has proven to be a key contributor to our efforts to improve student attendance and engagement. Attendance and engagement are critically important factors in ensuring that all of our students remain on the path toward graduation.” said Dr. Ziskin.

Fort Plain is also entering into a partnership with Montgomery County to share the cost of a full-time, 12-month social worker who will support a specific caseload of families during the school year and through the summer. The social worker will provide counseling and support to those students and their families who have struggled with their transition to the school setting.

Priority Area: Fiscal resources

“The board and administration are committed to supporting efforts to provide a strong, relevant education to our students in a fiscally responsible
manner.,” said Dr. Ziskin.

“Our proposed budget maintains program and ensures our greatest areas of need receive the appropriate resources to deliver on our mission’s promise to prepare every student for success beyond graduation in a safe and positive environment.”

As an example, the district is switching to a new health insurance carrier to avoid a $300,000 increase in insurance premiums. The new provider has agreed to deliver identical coverage for slightly less than the 2017-18 premium for current employees and for retirees who already made the transition to the new carrier in January. These changes were achieved through collaboration with the two bargaining units.

“We are committed to reviewing our allocation of resources with an eye towards efficiency so we can continue targeting our areas of greatest need,” Dr. Ziskin said.

“We were able to make a few targeted additions to this year’s budget that would not have been possible had we not moved to a new health insurance carrier.”

Other items on the ballot

A second proposal on the May 15 ballot will ask residents to vote on the use of $230,000 from the District’s Bus Purchase Reserve Fund for the purchase
of new school vehicles. Expenditures of reserve funds require voter approval; however, since 100 percent of the cost is paid from the fund, there will be no impact on the tax levy.

In a third proposal, the Fort Plain Free Library seeks a $5,000 increase in funding.

In addition to voting on the budget, residents will be asked to elect two members to the Board of Education, both three-year terms commencing on July 1, 2018 and expiring on June 30, 2021. Current members Mary Beth
Hudyncia’s and Jami Stevens’ terms expire on June 30, 2018.

Polls will be open 1 p.m. to 9 p.m. in the Harry Hoag gymnasium.

Legal Notice – School budget vote and elections



To the qualified voters of the Fort Plain Central School District, Fort Plain, NY: NOTICE is hereby given that the Public Hearing on the School District Budget for the 2018-2019 school year will be held in the Harry Hoag District Office Conference Room on Wednesday, May 2, 2018 at 7:00 p.m.

AND FURTHER NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN that the Annual District Meeting and Election of the qualified voters of the Fort Plain Central School District will be held in the Harry Hoag School Gymnasium in said District on Tuesday, May 15, 2018 at which time said vote and election will be held between the hours of 1:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m., prevailing time at which time the polls will be opened to vote by voting machine upon the following items:

Proposition 1: To adopt the annual budget of the School District for the fiscal year 2018-2019 and to authorize the requisite portion thereof to be raised by taxation on the taxable property of the District.

Proposition 2: Authorization to Purchase Buses:  Shall the Board of Education of the Fort Plain Central School District be authorized to:  (a) acquire school vehicles at a maximum aggregate cost of $230,000.00; (b) expend such sums for such purpose; (c) expend from the Bus Purchase Reserve Fund an amount not to exceed $230,000.00 for such purpose; (d) levy the necessary tax therefore, to be levied and collected in such amounts as may be determined by the Board of Education taking into account state aid received and amounts disbursed from the reserve fund; and (e) in anticipation of the collection of such tax, to issue bonds and notes of the District at one time or from time to time in the principal amount not to exceed $230,000, and to levy a tax to pay the interest on such obligations when due?

Proposition 3: Authorization for Increase in the Library Tax Levy:  Shall the annual appropriation to support and maintain the Fort Plain Free Library be increased by $5,000 to $80,000, which sum shall be separate and apart from the Fort Plain Central School District annual school district budget and be raised annually by a tax upon the taxable property of the school district, and which appropriation shall be the annual appropriation for the library until changed by further vote of the electors of the school district, and such tax shall be levied and collected yearly as are other general taxes and such monies paid over to the trustees of the Library?

To elect two (2) members of the Board of Education to a three (3) year term commencing on July 1, 2018 and expiring on June 30, 2021 to succeed Jami L. Stevens and Mary Beth Hudyncia whose terms expire on June 30, 2018.

AND FURTHER NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN that petitions nominating candidates for the office of member of the Board of Education shall be filed with the Clerk of said School District at his office in the Harry Hoag School not later than April 16, 2018 between 7:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. Each petition shall be directed to the Clerk of the District and shall be signed by at least 25 voters of the District, and must state the name and residence of the candidate.

AND FURTHER NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN that applications for absentee ballots will be obtainable between the hours of 7:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. Monday through Friday, except holidays, from the District Clerk. The District Clerk must receive completed applications at least seven (7) days before the election if the ballot is to be mailed to the voter, or the day before the election, if the ballot is to be delivered personally to the voter. Absentee ballots must be received by the District Clerk not later than 4:00 p.m., prevailing time, on Tuesday, May 15, 2018.

A list of persons to whom absentee ballots are issued will be available for inspection to qualified voters of the District in the office of the District Clerk on and after May 14, 2018 between the hours of 7:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. on weekdays prior to the day set for the annual election and on May 15, 2018, the day set for the election. Any qualified voter present in the polling place may object to the voting of the ballot upon appropriate grounds by making his/her challenge and the reasons therefore known to the Inspector of Election before the close of the polls.

AND FURTHER NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN, that the qualified voters of the School District shall be entitled to vote at said annual vote and election. A qualified voter is one who is (1) a citizen of the United States of America, (2) eighteen years of age or older, and (3) a resident within the School District for a period of thirty (30) days immediately preceding the annual election. The School District may require all persons offering to vote at the budget vote and election to provide one form of proof of residency pursuant to Education Law Section 2018-c. Such form may include a driver’s license, a non-driver identification card, a utility bill or a voter registration card. Upon offer of proof of residency, the School District may also require all persons offering to vote to provide their signature, printed name and address.

AND FURTHER NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN, that pursuant to a rule adopted by the Board of Education in accordance with Sections 2035 and 2008 of the Education law, any referenda or propositions to amend the budget, or otherwise to be submitted for voting at said vote and election, must be filed with the Board of Education at the Fort Plain Central School District on or before April 16, 2018 at 4:00 p.m., prevailing time; must be typed or printed in the English language; must be directed to the Clerk of the School District; must be signed by at least twenty-five (25) qualified voters, or five percent (5%) of the registered voters of the District who voted in the previous annual election of Board members, whichever is greater; and must state the name and residence of each signer.  However, the School Board will not entertain or place before the voters any proposition if its purpose is beyond the power of the voters or is illegal, or any proposition requiring the expenditure of moneys which fails to include specific appropriations for all such expenditures required by the proposition.

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