NISKAYUNA – Niskayuna Central School District residents approved an almost $99.9 million budget Tuesday, while also electing three candidates to the school board.
Of the 2,029 voters this year, 63% supported the budget, said Roberto LoBianco, the district spokesperson.
The budget is a 7.3% increase from the 2021-22 budget and included the use of $2.5 million in unspent funds. Passage of the budget means district residents will see a 2.87% increase in their taxes.
The budget would fund several positions, including a director of human resources at $140,000 and director of pupil personnel services at $130,000.
Voters also approved a $970,000 plan to purchase seven buses.
Incumbent and current school board president Kimberly Tully was re-elected for a second-term after receiving 1,227 votes.
“I am thankful the community is putting their trust in me again,” she said.
Tully said her focus during her new term will be to create a smooth transition for the new superintendent, new head of human resources and a new assistant superintendent for business. She also wants to focus on establishing a budget committee to take an in-depth look at the district budget and spending to see if more efficiencies can be identified and executed.
Elisabeth Cococcia and Judy Tomisman were also elected to the board, after receiving 1,398 and 1,309 votes respectively.
Tomisman said she’s looking forward to getting to build a good relationship with the new superintendent and working to keep the district great.
“I’m excited to get to work,” she said.
Cococcia said she was humbled to be elected.
“I’m truly, truly grateful for all of the support I’ve received,” she said, noting many people have reached out to her over the last several weeks.
She too wants to start looking at the budget.
“There’s been a lot of questions this year,’ she said.
She said she looks forward to working with everyone and also noted that if Joseph Drescher had been elected to the board he would’ve done a good job.
Drescher said the community made its choice and he supports it and thanks the other candidates for stepping forward to run.
“If they ever need my help I’m here,” he said, noting he will still continue to serve on the Van Antwerp Parent-teacher organization.
Drescher said he considers himself a winner because he said he saw what the community could do by getting out and voting
“I’m touched and humbled by the support I received,” he said.
He said he’s not sure if he’ll run again, but wants to help the community in any way he can.
“Never say never,” he said.
Niskayuna voter Michael Mansion, an attorney, was not in favor of the budget, noting he hasn’t voted to approve one since 1998 – as long as he has lived in the district.
“There hasn’t been a year I’ve lived in this town where we haven’t had a tax increase,” he said after voting at Niskayuna High School.
It’s why he said he only voted for Drescher to be on the board.
“I think it’s time we start shaking up the school board,” he said, noting current members are not making efforts to keep taxes down.
Resident Chloe Bellcourt, a teacher in the Mohonasen Central School District, and Jennifer Samaniuk, a teacher in the North Colonie Central School District, both voted in favor of the budget, citing the importance of ensuring a good public education.
“I expect it to go up, you get what you pay for,” she said, noting if you want a good educational system it will come with a cost. Niskayuna voters spoke with The Daily Gazette outside the high school.
Bellcourt had similar remarks, noting that the Niskayuna school district had “one of the best educational systems.”
Samaniuk said she also supported candidates she felt shared those same views and also had backgrounds that included participating in the community in various ways. She voted for Tomisman, Cococcia and Tully.
However, Samaniuk said all of the candidates were good.
Bellcourt only voted for Tully after she said she heard from her mother, friends and other family members about how she was a good candidate. She did not vote for anyone else because she said “I didn’t know enough to feel like I could vote for them.”
The three board members begin three-year terms starting July 1.
Here are results for other districts in Schenectady County:
|District||Proposed Budget||In Favor||Against|
|Duanesburg Central School District||$18.6 million||547||361|
|Mohonasen Central School District||$3.7 million||760||268|
|Schalmont Central School District||$53.5 million||608||124|
|Scotia-Glenville Central School District||$60.28 million||933||338|
Voters in the Duanesburg school district also approved a proposition to purchase three buses for $315,000. Sarah Gwiazdowski and Avis Sanchez were both elected to their first term on the board. Incumbent Dianne Grant was not re-elected.
Voters in the Mohonasen school district also approved a proposition to purchase six buses for $645,000. Chad McFarland and Melissa Laudano were elected to school board seats.
Voters in the Schalmont school district also approved a $6.1 million capital improvement project surrounding parking and traffic flow as well as air quality at all three schools in the district. The district will also be able to purchase four new buses and create a capital reserve fund for a future capital improvement plan following voter approval. Incumbent Patricia Dowse was elected to the board. She had previously been appointed to the board after a member stepped down in 2019. Incumbent Jean Hanson was elected to her third term. Miranda Eldridge was elected to her first term. Kyrish Iyer, the other incumbent running, was not re-elected.
Voters in the Scotia-Glenville school district also approved a proposition to purchase three busses for $385,000. Kimberly Talbot was re-elected to a second term on the board. Emily Orr was elected to her first term. Incumbent Dan Feinberg was not re-elected.
Reporter Shenandoah Briere can be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at SB_DailyGazette.net.