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Shen voters approve 2019-20 budget, elect 3 board members

Shen voters approve 2019-20 budget, elect 3 board members

Budget passes by a tally of 1,746 to 475 votes; $177M plan increases 2.3% over current spending
Shen voters approve 2019-20 budget, elect 3 board members
Clifton Park residents cast their vote for the school budget at Gowana Middle School Tuesday, May 21, 2019.
Photographer: Peter R. Barber

Voters in the Shenendehowa Central School District approved a $177 million budget for the coming school year and elected three school board members on Tuesday.

The budget passed with a tally of 1,746 yes votes to 475 no votes.

The total budget, which comes in at $177,729,400 and represents a 2.3 percent increase over the 2018-2019 academic year budget, is slightly higher than $177,546,764, the amount the district proposed in March.

The proposal has a slight tax rate decrease.

The district will also have a chance to save money during the upcoming school year, as 13 teachers have indicated their intent to retire, providing Shen with $538,600 in savings.

State aid covers 27 percent of the 2019-2020 budget, while local taxes cover just over 70 percent.

Salaries make up the largest portion of the budget at approximately $98 million, or about 55 percent. Benefits make up the next largest budget chunk, coming in at 26 percent, or $46.6 million of the spending plan.

Also on the ballot was the district's annual bus replacement proposition. Each year, the district purchases new buses for its fleet, retiring older ones.

Many of Tuesday night's voters came out largely because they do it each year, they said.

Clifton Park resident Courtney Brunelle said that voting for the school budget, which she supports every year, is her civic duty. She also wanted to vote in the board of education election, because she said that body in particular is crucial, considering how much of the well-being of students is tied to board decisions.

"There isn't any branch of government more important than the board of education, which directly affects our kids," she said.

More results from Capital Region school board elections and budget votes:

According to Shen's data, district buses traveled more than 2.1 million miles during the 2017-2018 school year. For the 2019-2020 school year, the district will seek to purchase 20 buses of various sizes for a cost not to exceed $2,189,124, which voters approved 1,831 to 390.

Specifically, Shen will purchase 14 72-passenger buses and 6 29-passenger buses.

Board members Deanna Stephenson, Gary DiLallo, and Todd Gilbert were re-elected to three-year terms on the board of education. Stephenson received 1,792 votes, DiLallo received 1,453 votes and Gilbert received 1,473 votes.

Stephenson said on Tuesday night that the reelection of incumbents to the board will allow the group to move forward quickly and efficiently when the next term begins in July.

"I'm very thankful to the community for supporting me once again for another term. I look forward to working with my colleagues. I truly enjoy that. Like I've said before, it's the ultimate give back, to be able to shape the futures of our students. What we really look forward to is continuing our discussions, which include mental health, safety, and purchasing land, all the hot topics that we're going to continue to work on," she said.

DiLallo said he will continue to work on his priority issues during his upcoming term on the board, which include student mental health programs, and moving forward which the purchasing of land in Halfmoon for a new school.

DiLallo pointed out that, as a long-time board member, the next few years will give him the opportunity to continue to mentor other board members as they gain years of experiences, and help to guide the board.

"Basically it'll just be continuing the role that I've been in for some time," he said.

Shen superintendent L. Oliver Robinson said on Tuesday night after the vote that for him, the budget vote always is representative of the voice of the community. Each time the budget passes, he said, it gives the school district another opportunity to expand on the services that it offers to students.

He added that the reason the budget is passed year after year, in his opinion, is because taxpayers see an actual return on their investment when they strengthen the school district, whether it's in the form of stable and improving housing values or successful graduates.

"We spit out beautiful minds that will hopefully go and change the world. At the end of the day, that's our final objective -- to put out beautiful minds," he said.

More results from Capital Region school board elections and budget votes:

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