OCS budget passes, new trustees enjoy landslide

Foes of changing district configuration score with bd. voters

By Jay Braman Jr.
In a record-setting turnout, Onteora School District voters came out in force to elect a new slate of trustees to the board of education and adopt the district’s proposed budget and three other spending propositions. Voters swarmed four polling places throughout the district Tuesday, with the vast majority sending the message that they do not want to see Onteora reconfigured in the way the incumbents envisioned.
Earlier this month, the school board announced plans to close the Phoenicia Elementary school, create a 5th – 12th- grade school at the high school in Boiceville, and do it all at a cost to taxpayers of over $70 million.
The winners of the election, Ralph Legnini, Donna Flayhan, Laurie Osmond and Ann McGillicuddy, promise that come July when they take control of the seven-member board they would work on a proper procedure to overturn the controversial and unpopular proposals, saying their actions as a board must reflect the wishes of the Onteora community.
Winning candidates for three three-year seats were Legnini with 2,460 votes, Flayhan with 2,379, and McGillicuddy with 2,294. A one-year term to finish a vacancy was won by Osmond, who received 2,267 votes and was seated on the board last Tuesday. The school board has seven elected members. The incumbent trustees finished as follows: Cindy O’Connor, 1,446 votes, Mary Jane Bernholz, 1,384; and Rita Vanacore, 1,301. Newcomer Adam Pollack, an Onteora High School senior, received 739 votes.
Residents voted 2,468 to 1,165 in favor of a $48.21 million spending plan that projects no increase in the tax levy. The adopted budget increases spending by $1.44 million, or 3.08 percent. The $35.21 million property tax levy remains unchanged.
Residents also approved Proposition 2 by a vote of 2,063 to 1,529, authorizing the district to spend $189,127 for two school buses. Proposition 3, to spend $1.8 million to renovate middle and high school facilities, was adopted, 2,063 to1, 457. Proposition 4, establishing child safety zones on state Route 28 and Upper Boiceville Road, was adopted, 2,642 to 964.