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Fri., Sep. 4
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School budgets across the region approved Tuesday


Voters in school districts across St. Lawrence and Franklin counties approved the spending plans put before them on Tuesday.

Budgets at St. Lawrence Central, Parishville-Hopkinton, Colton-Pierrepont, Madrid-Waddington, Norwood-Norfolk, Salmon River, St. Regis Falls and Brushton-Moira School Districts all passed Tuesday.

St. Lawrence Central School District voters approved their $18.9 million budget with 309 yes votes. Ninety four people voted against the proposal.

The budget actually decreases spending by .68 percent and carries a tax levy increase of 3.28 percent.

The ballot also included two candidates for two seats on the board of education with incumbents Patricia K. Gengo, 318 votes, and Rhonda Shorette-Peets, 342, being re-elected.

A school bus proposition passed by a similar margin of 307-94. That measure will allow the district to purchase four buses at a cost not to exceed $383,000.

The vote comes a year after the district was on a contingency budget. Superintendent Stephen M. Putman said he was glad the district was able to avoid a second year of contingency, which eliminates equipment purchases and imposes other regulations.

“It’s certainly a more confident feeling not having to worry about all those issues related to contingency,” Mr. Putman said. “We’re obviously very pleased and grateful for the community for their support of the school and the budget.”

Last year, voters rejected the district’s initial $19.1 million spending plan with a 16.12 percent tax levy increase by a more than 2 to 1 margin, 767 to 341. Voters later rejected a second $18.9 million budget proposal carrying an 11.9 percent tax levy increase 415-271, sending the district into contingency.

The board tried its hardest to lower the proposed tax increase this year, Mr. Putman said.

“Taxpayers paid a significant increase in taxes last year,” Mr. Putman said. “The board was very cognizant of that.”

Voters in the Colton-Pierrepont Central School District approved a $9.47 million budget by a vote of 205 to 77. The budget includes an $85,000 spending increase and calls for a tax levy increase of 2.03 percent.

Superintendent Joseph A. Kardash said he appreciates the support from the community, which was evident long before the first vote was even cast.

“It certainly shows support for the school from the community,” he said. “It was good to have five people running and to see that kind of interest in the school.”

Voters elected Tracy Hoose, 154 votes, and incumbent Shelli Prespare-Wilson, 137, to the two school board seats on the ballot. They were followed by incumbent Scott Baxter, Lisa Warner and Lena Mathie who received 121, 62 and 26 votes respectively.

A library referendum appearing on the ballot also passed with 215 yes votes compared to 63 no votes. The proposition will increase the amount of funding Colton’s Hepburn Library will receive from $15,000 to $20,000.

The Norwood-Norfolk Central School budget passed with 225 yes votes and 115 no votes. The $19.5 million budget increases spending by 1.58 percent and includes a tax levy increase of 0.26 percent.

And while there were three spots up for election on the school board, there were only two candidates, both incumbents, listed on the ballot. Thomas W. Scott earned 279 votes and George D. Fulk garnered 249 votes. There was no candidate on the ballot for the third vacant seat on the board. But the person leaving that seat was leading write-in candidate, Lisa Levison, 22 votes.

She led a field of 13 write in candidates. Other district residents receiving multiple votes were Pam Levendusky, 6, and Kate Mikel, 2.

Marty Manley, Frank Hess, Helen B., Jason Esner, David Wells, William Jackson, Jane Mott, Joe Liotta, Nickles Lamanouha and David Flint, the current board president, each received one vote.

District voters also approved a proposition to purchase one 66-passenger bus and two 60-passenger buses at a cost not to exceed $330,000. That measure was approved by a 218-127 vote.

“I think we felt reasonably confident that the voters would approve (the budget) at the rate we went out with,” Superintendent Elizabeth A. Kirnie said, adding that she believed voters were also happy that programs remained intact.

“I wish I could say that we got there without having to let go of staff, but we did put the students first in our thinking,” she said.

As they look to fill the third board seat, Mrs. Kirnie said they’ll start at the top of the write-in list to see if the individuals are interested.

“We’re probably going to back to the book for this one to figure out how to handle it. I don’t know that they’ve had write-in votes before. If we find that none of the candidates are willing, we’ll certainly take more steps,” she said.

The support for Parishville-Hopkinton’s budget was overwhelming, with the budget earning 108 yes votes compared to 30 no votes. The district’s $10.06 million budget is $622,093 more than this year’s spending plan and carries a 2.91 percent tax levy increase.

Superintendent Darin P. Saiff said he was pleased with the results.

“It’s great to have the support of the community during tough financial times,” he said. “We’re very fortunate to be located where we are.”

Incumbent school board President Ward Remington and Robert White were unopposed in the contest for two board seats, with Mr. Remington earning 117 votes and Mr. White earning 118 votes. Mr. White was appointed to the board in March, following the resignation of Christina Jacot.

Voters also approved a proposal to purchase two school buses at a cost not to exceed $230,000 by a 115-22 margin.

District voters passed the $13,984,990 Madrid-Waddington school budget for 2012-13 by a 176-45 margin Tuesday.

The budget carries a 2.92 percent tax levy increase, from $3,681,871 this year, to $3,789,488 in 2012-13.

Douglas McKnight and Brian Hammond, two incumbents running unopposed, were re-elected to the board of education.

Also approved was a proposition allowing the purchase of two buses and one passenger van at a cost not to exceed $275,000. The vehicle purchases were approved 180-38.

Residents in the Salmon River Central School District narrowly voted to approve a $27,688,195 budget, with 167 voting for and 137 voting against the spending plan.

The spending plan is accompanied by a 2 percent increase in property taxes. Taxes will garner the district a total of $1,912,628. The budget represents a 4.6 percent increase from 2011-12 and calls for no staffing cuts.

Voters also approved the purchase of three buses at a cost not to exceed $307,047 by a 200-103 margin. School officials previously said that two of the buses will hold 66 passengers, while the third will hold 48 plus be equipped with a lift.

Incumbent board members Matthew Mainville, 253 votes, and Linda Durant, 225, were unopposed in their bids for re-election.

Canton Central School District voters approved a $23.2 million budget that carries a 4.69 percent increase in the tax levy by a 459-177 vote.

A bus proposition was approved by a 472-158 margin, and district residents also approved hiking their property taxes to increase funding to the Canton Free Library from $75,000 to $77,000.

Brushton-Moira voters agreed upon a $16.72 million budget, which represents a 6.95 percent increase in spending over the current budget. School officials said 189 voted for the budget and 117 voted against it.

That increase comes out to 2.03 percent when the school’s debt service due to an ongoing capital project is factored out. The proposal includes a tax levy of $2.68 million, an increase of 3.41 percent, which is the school’s tax cap figure.

Residents voted to approve the purchase of two new buses and the trade-in of three old ones. School officials said the new buses will cost $182,813. One of the old buses was put out to bid and netted $8,501, the other two have trade values of $14,000 and $8,500.

Voters elected newcomers Robert Nimz, Chad Dufrane, Angela DeBeer, Joy Hastings, and write-in candidate Joe St. Mary to the board of education as none of the five incumbents on the board choose to run for re-election.

St. Regis Falls residents approved a budget that comes in at a total of $7.75 million. It includes a $260,000, or 3.47 percent, increase in spending over the current budget. The district reported that 149 voted for the budget and 47 voted against it.

The school expects to receive $4.6 million in state aid and other revenue and use $456,000 from its fund balance, an increase in $156,000 over the current usage. The district will levy $2.73 million in taxes.

Incumbent school board vice president Mickey Smith was elected to another five-year term, netting 117 votes. Newcomers Nadine Butler-Sochia and Lawrence A. Fraser were elected to the board of education, garnering 170 and 117 votes, respectively. Harry Ratcliffe was seeking one of the three available board seats, but only got 107 votes.

Voters decided in favor of purchasing three new school buses, with 140 voting yes and 52 voting no.

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