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Sun., Dec. 28
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Potsdam, Colton-Pierrepont, Parishville-Hopkinton all pass budgets

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POTSDAM - The last time voters in the Potsdam Central School District rejected the district’s budget proposal was back in 2008 when the town underwent a property revaluation.

This year the town again underwent a property revaluation, however, the 2013-2014 budget was passed by a more than four to one margin.

Voters approved the $27,324,782 spending plan 618-148.

“I want to thank the Potsdam community for their support of our budget and this school,” Superintendent Patrick H. Brady said. “We’re incredibly pleased with the outcome of the vote.”

Mr. Brady said he felt like the community had a good understanding of the district’s situation and was pleased to see a budget that maintained the majority of the district’s programs.

“I think people understand the pressure the district is in with the lack of state aid,” he said, adding the last minute aid increase they did receive was used to restore several potential cuts.

“We were able to reduce the cuts and put back several positions,” he said.

Mr. Brady said he was nervous heading into the budget vote, but that’s nothing new.

“I’m nervous every budget year,” he said, noting the revaluation didn’t help to calm his nerves.

“We did know that in ‘08-’09 with the reval our budget did not pass,” he said. “I’m glad that people were able to separate the two issues.”

While Mr. Brady said he would like to state aid to increase, he said the lack of state aid may actually have helped the district pass it’s budget by such a wide margin.

“The community seems to understand that schools are under siege with the lack of state aid,” he said, a problem that he said he’s again expecting to encounter next year.

“Ever year has been tougher than the last,” he said. “This year we did receive more state aid, but we’re still not where we need to be when it comes to inequities in state aid.”

The spending plan drew a mixed reaction fron district voters late Tuesday afternoon.

Jon Harrington and his wife, Pat Harrington, both said they voted no on the budget.

“I think they don’t spend their money wisely. Our taxes are too high and the educational programs aren’t as effective as they should be considering the budget, Mr. Harrington said. “They’re spending their money on frivolous things like two new benches by the multi-million dollar stadium.”

Mrs. Harrington agreed, “I just think the taxes are too high. We’re being taxed right out of our house.”

Several other voters though said they supported the budget.

“I am a teacher and my daughter attends school here,” said Michelle Murray, who went to Potsdam Central and teaches at Parishville-Hopkinton. “I have two other children who will also attend school here.

Dale Hobson said his dad, David, was a teacher, so he understands the value of education.

“My father was a public school teacher for 28 years and he would be spinning in his grave if I voted down the budget,” he said.

Laura Gilbert also supported the budget, noting she doesn’t want to see any more cuts made to teaching positions or programs.

“I think they put back into the budget at the very last minute some very important things, specifically the music position,” she said. “Across the board I don’t want to see any more programs or teachers lost.”

Voters in Potsdam also elected three board of education members with Rachel H. Wallace receiving 571 votes, Judith M. Hinman receiving 548 votes and incumbent Ralph L. Fuller receiving 522 votes. Former board of education member Ann M. Carvill received 362 votes. Former board of education members Mary Ashley Carroll and Sandra Morris each received two write-in votes and Sue Rice received one write-in vote.

A referendum authorizing the purchase of two buses was also approved, 92-23.

One of the few other districts with a contested school board race was Colton-Pierrepont, where voters approved their $9,840,000 budget, 169-60.

Former board of education member Scott A. Baxter will rejoin the board after receiving 126 votes. Incumbent Jo Ann Roberts received 99 votes and John B. Saunders received one write-in vote.

“The one nice thing about those two candidates was no matter the outcome, they will both remain active in the school,” said Superintendent Joseph A. Kardash. “It was a win-win.”

As for the budget, which passed by a more than two to one margin, Mr. Kardash was also pleased with that result.

“We’re always happy to have the community support,” he said. “We’re happy with the outcome of the budget vote, but we’re sorry to see Jo Ann go.”

Voters in the Parishville-Hopkinton Central School District approved their $10,193,219 budget by a more than two to one margin, 85-32.

“I’m very pleased with the outcome and pleased that the community showed us so much support even in these tough financial times,” said Superintendent Darin P. Saiff.

The district also had two seats available on its board of education with incumbent James E. Young earning 95 votes and current board member Daniel S. Taylor earning 101 votes. Mr. Taylor was appointed to the board last spring, following the death of Steven Wilson, whose term was set to expire this year.

Voters also approved a proposition for the purchase of a bus at a cost not to exceed $125,000.

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