Voters in the Greater Johnstown School District overwhelmingly approved the district’s 2022-23 $41 million budget with a 4.84% tax levy increase with 72% approval, with an unofficial vote count Tuesday night of 541-209.
Both of the school’s budget propositions passed by similar margins with 76% approval for the purchase of three 66-passenger buses and one van or suburban vehicle using the district’s bus reserve fund (570-180) and 76% approval for the Knox Facilities Improvement Project, including turf replacement, tack re-surfacing and wrought iron fencing restoration (572-178).
Two declared write-in candidates William J. Stock (199 votes) and Marjorie Kline (187 votes) had the lead in the unofficial vote total Tuesday night to win the two vacant seats on the now 7-member GJSD school board with write-in candidate Joseph Naselli (75 votes) in a distant third.
District residents Thomas and Alicia Aramstrong said they voted, “Yes, yes and yes” for the districts budget and two propositions.
“That’s what I did, I’m not sure what she did,” Thomas said looking over at his wife inside their vehicle parked in the Johnstown High School parking lot.
“I did yes, yes and yes,” Alicia said.
Thomas, who said he was a lawyer, explained why he supported the GJSD budget.
“I just thought, it’s obviously not a high tax levy raise, unlike some of the previous years, also with costs going up it just makes sense to vote for a budget that helps them pay for rising costs,” he said.
“It wasn’t an unresaonable request,” said Alicia, who works in retail. “And they need the bus.”
“And most of it is paid for by the state, so it’s a pretty small overall increase in your property tax bill,” Thomas said.
GJSD Superintendent William Crankshaw thanked the district’s voters in a news release Tuesday night.
“I’m more than happy to report to you that our budget passed handily – second year as of late,” Crankshaw wrote. “With the dedication and loyalty you’ve all shown to Johnstown through so much – YOU are to be congratulated and thanked.”
For the Mayfield Central School District the unofficial vote count shows voters approved the district’s budget and propositions, but not its incumbent school board member Cassie Kristel who received 129 votes, 61 fewer than challenger and past school board member Kevin Capobianco.
Prior to the vote Mayfield School Board President Aaron Flynn had made a public endorsement of Kristel asking the public to give her another five-year term on the board.
“Over the course of the past 5 years I have been fortunate to work with Cassie on this board,” Flynn wrote in a social media statement. “I have learned a great deal from her. She is the hardest working member of this board, she attends every school and community event she has time for (and many that she doesn’t have time for). She is a voice of conscience and accountability on this board. She is always focused on what is best for our kids, she is not afraid to roll up her sleeves and challenge people to think differently and she is always one of the first members to ask the question, ‘how will this impact our community and our tax payers.’”
MCSD was engrossed in controversy earlier this year when it engaged in a public feud with U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-Schuylerville, the Republican Party Conference Chair in the U.S. House of Representatives. Stefanik had accused the district of either firing or placing on paid leave a pre-kindergarten teacher for allegedly liking one of Stefanik’s social media posts criticizing New York state’s now-lifted mask mandate for schools.
MCSD officials and school board members have stated Stefanik’s allegations are false and the pre-k teacher has been returned to full-time duty, but have refused to comment on why the teacher was briefly placed on paid-leave.
A MCSD school board meeting Feb. 16 ended abruptly amid the controversy over the pre-K teacher when a Stefanik supporter refused to comply with the mask mandate while being filmed by several of his companions. The video was later posted to Stefanik’s social media.
Capobianco attended the Feb. 16 meeting and criticized the school board for not always following all of the district’s rules with respect to providing the public with access to documents ahead of school board meetings. He indicated at the time that he might run again for the board, which he has served on in the past.
Flynn Tuesday night congratulated Capobianco.
“We are very happy that all three propositions passed and we thank the voters for their continued support,” he said in a social media message. “We also congratulate Mr. Capobianco and look forward work together next school year.”
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