School budgets pass easily in area schools

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By Pauline Liu
The 2012-2013 budgets for the Andes, Margaretville and Roxbury central school districts passed easily, after voters went to the polls last Tuesday.
Voters also re-elected two incumbent school board members and two newcomers, one of them a write-in candidate.
In Andes, 116 district voters turned out to cast their ballots. A total of 73 percent of the voters, or 85 voters, approved the new $3.64 million spending plan. The budget carries a 1.13 percent tax levy increase, which complies with the state’s adjusted two-percent property tax cap.

The proposition to trade in a five-year-old bus and bond a new bus, was approved by a vote of 81 to 35. Voters also approved the capital project to use funds to upgrade the fire alarm system in the main building. That proposition passed by a vote of 89 to 27.

Even more popular than the budget or any of the propositions, was incumbent Andes Board of Education President John Hopkins, who ran unopposed and was re-elected to his third five-year term.  Hopkins, locally known as an artist, was a graduate of Roxbury Central School’s Class of ’57. He received 102 votes, which was nearly 88 percent of the total vote.
Hopkins graciously gave his fellow school board members much of the credit.

“I guess they think we’re all doing a good job,” he said. “I don’t think it’s a vote of confidence necessarily for me, I think it’s a vote of confidence for the board.”

MCS tallies
The Margaretville Central School District’s nearly $10.4 million budget was approved by more than three-quarters of the 281 voters who turned out to cast their ballots.

A total of 214 voted in favor of the spending plan, while 67 voted against it. The 2012-2013 budget carries a 2.04 percent tax levy increase, which is at the state mandated adjusted two-percent property tax cap. 

Two-and-a-half jobs will be eliminated, namely a full-time teacher’s aide, a front-door monitor and a part-time custodial position. The retirement of senior library clerk Carol Johnson, will also result in the elimination of her position at the end of this school year. 

The passage of the budget prompted this response from School Superintendent Tony Albanese.

“Many, many thanks to the MCS community for overwhelmingly supporting the 2012-’13 budget,” wrote Albanese in an e-mail. “We have tried our very best to balance a strong and rigorous educational program full of opportunities for our students with an economic sensitivity towards our community.  We look forward to the ongoing positive collaborative efforts between the BOE, faculty, parents, and the community on behalf of our wonderful MCS students.”  

Newcomers Kate Van Benschoten and Kurt Holcherr won seats on the school board.  Van Benschoten, who was the only candidate on the ballot, won a three-year term with 247 votes. She will replace longtime board member Barbara Funck. 

“I am thankful to have received so much support, and hope that I can do a good job,” she wrote in an email. “I’m sure I have a lot to learn, but am happy to have good folks to guide me as I start out.  I plan to follow my conscience, and just hope that whatever decisions I make lead to a continually improved institution.”   

Meanwhile, Holcherr garnered 24 votes as a write-in candidate. He has been elected to a two-year term and will replace board member Robbie Martin. 

RCS voting
The Roxbury Central School District’s $9.6 million budget was approved by 71 percent of the 283 voters, who turned out to cast their ballots.  The vote was 201 in favor and 82 opposed to the spending plan. It carries a 1.38 percent and comes in just below the adjusted two percent property tax cap.

Even more popular than the budget, voters approved a proposition to put $10,000 into a repair reserve fund. School board members had explained that the transfer would not directly effect the tax rate, since the money was coming out of surplus. The vote was 217 in favor and 66 opposed.
Voters also re-elected Tara Poniros, Class of ’93, who won re-election to her second five-year term. Hers was the only name on the ballot. She won with 149 votes.

OCS budget
By Jay Braman Jr.

Onteora School District voters approved a proposed $49.69 million budget last week for 2012-13 by a 1,201 to 509 margin and narrowly re-elected two incumbent school board trustees.
Re-elected to three-year terms on the board of education were Tony Fletcher, the board vice president, with 907 votes, and trustee Laurie Osmond, with 872 votes. Also rans were Cybele Nielsen with 824 votes and Rebecca Balzac with 762 votes.

After the votes were counted last Tuesday, Fletcher acknowledged it was a close one.

“This was one of those cases where every vote counted, truly, especially on a wet day like today when turnout was down across all four towns from what it would otherwise have been,” he said.”
The district’s 2012-2013 budget calls for a zero percent tax increase.

Total spending under the plan drops by almost two percent. The current school budget came in last May at $50,541,121. The plan for the next school year drops spending down to $49,686,922.