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30+ school budgets pass across Capital Region


30+ school budgets pass across Capital Region

School districts across the Capital Region scored strong support for budgets during annual votes Tue
30+ school budgets pass across Capital Region
School board elections were held at Schenectady High School on Tuesday May 17, 2016. Albert Jurczynski works on his election ballot.
Photographer: Marc Schultz

School districts across the Capital Region scored strong support for budgets during annual votes Tuesday.

With more than 30 districts reporting the results of budget votes by 11 p.m., none had budgets rejected by voters. Propositions across the region also passed, while some board incumbents fared better than others.

In Schenectady schools, board incumbents Cathy Lewis and Ann Reilly held off a challenge from Will Rivas. Reilly scored 879 votes to Lewis’ 800 votes and Rivas’ 480 votes, according to unofficial results. The district’s $177 million budget proposal passed and so did a $2.5 million project to make exterior improvements at Central Park Middle School.

School budgets pass

District Budget Amount on Ballot Approved: Yes/No

Schenectady $177,180,990 Yes

Albany $234,053,915 Yes

Schalmont $46,570,427 Yes

Mohonasen $48,365,409 Yes

Niskayuna $80,442,905 Yes

Scotia-Glenville $52,048,547 Yes

Duanesburg $15,630,232 Yes

Waterford-Halmoon $20,930,502 Yes

Ballston Spa $88,459,730 Yes

Shenendehowa $166,308,680 Yes

Galway $20,159,607 Yes

Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake $63,905,956 Yes

Mechanicville $23,904,552 Yes

Stillwater $23,989,459 Yes

Saratoga Springs $118,398,718 Yes

Sharon Springs, $9,133,183 Yes

Schoharie $22,887,057 Yes

Middleburgh $21,285,170 Yes

Cobleskill-Richmondville $39,567,449 Yes

Northville $10,610,563 Yes

Greater Johnstown $33,359,454 Yes

Mayfield $17,504,418 Yes

Broadalbin-Perth $33,987,995 Yes

Gloversville $60,851,235 Yes

Wheelerville $4,375,305 Yes

Oppenheim-Ephratah-St. Johnsville $18,785,271 Yes

Amsterdam $68,788,976 Yes

Fonda-Fultonville $26,722,928 Yes

Canajoharie $21,344,710 Yes

Fort Plain $19,500,00 Yes

South Colonie $98,659,699 Yes

North Colonie $105,338,269 Yes

Guilderland $96,590,045 Yes

There was some shakeup on school boards, however. Former Ballston Town Supervisor Patrick Ziegler won a seat on the Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake school board, ousting incumbent Lee-Ann Mertzlufft. Incumbent Jennifer Longtin was re-elected. In Duanesburg, incumbent Kent Sanders held on in a field of six candidates, but newcomer Deborah Grier was able to take a seat from incumbent Tina Gamache.

Deb Escobar, a strident opponent of Common Core education standards and state tests, won a seat on the Mohonasen school board, squeaking past former board member Gary Spadaro by 18 votes. Board President Robert Piccirillo was re-elected.

Sitting outside of Mohonasen’s poll site — outside the legal zone that prohibits campaigning — the four candidates stood in a group, chatting kindly with one another and voters that passed in and out of the school gym. Piccirillo said he has been there since 6:30 a.m. — it was nearly 6:30 p.m.

“It’s been an active campaign, and voters want to meet you and say hello,” Piccirillo said. “And it’s a good way to meet the community also.” (The candidate stakeout has become a tradition of sorts, Piccirillo said.)

“You are up and down so much to greet people, it’s not worth sitting down,” Escobar said.

Throughout Tuesday a gradual trickle of voters headed to schools across the region to cast their vote on budgets, school board seats and other propositions.

In Amsterdam, library volunteers fanned out to the district’s four polling places to support a proposition to support $210,000 in new annual library appropriations — $200,000 for the Amsterdam Free Library and $10,000 for Fort Hunter Free Library.

The proposition passed with over 75 percent approval. The district’s $68.7 budget passed as well, but not as overwhelmingly as the library proposal.

“It’s so we can be here for the community for the rest of time really,” said library advocate Krissy Gillmore as she waited outside Amsterdam High School.

“Forever,” Kim Beebe agreed.

Gillmore, who serves on the Amsterdam library board, said the library was dealing with declining savings and donations and hoped to tie itself to the Amsterdam school budget to remain a presence in the community. With voter approval, the library will receive the $200,000 in annual appropriations until changed by a future vote.

At Malta Town Hall, where Malta residents of the Ballston Spa Central School District can vote, voters in early evening included many parents who brought elementary-age children with them — but others voted as well.

“Even though I don’t have children in the district, I think it’s important to vote,” said Gerard Benton, 28, who is about to be married. “I hope that when I do have children in the system, other people will come out to support it.”

Also voting in favor of the Ballston Spa budget were Chris and Kristin Douglas, both educators with children in the district. She teaches at Mayfield elementary, and he is a psychologist at Shenendehowa.

“We always support education,” Kristin Douglas said.

Districts that needed supermajorities to pass budgets also won favor from voters. Northville Central School District, which needed 60 percent approval to break its negative tax cap and increase its levy by 1.75 percent, skirted by with 62 percent approval from 422 voters who made it to the polls.

And in Gloversville, where district officials were dealing with a negative 6 percent tax levy and put forward a 0 percent tax levy increase, voters approved the budget with nearly 70 percent support.

A handful of capital project proposals also gained voter support Tuesday. Galway voters approved a $26.7 million improvement project; Broadalbin-Perth voters approved a $39.7 million project as well as the purchase of 3.8 acres of land adjacent to the Perth campus.

Shenendehowa’s $16.6 million project passed with nearly 4 to 1 support. Deanna Stephenson, Todd Gilbert and Gary DiLallo were elected to the school board.

Stephen Williams contributed to this report.

Reach Gazette reporter Zachary Matson at 395-3120, or @zacharydmatson on Twitter.

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