For the third year in a row, all area school districts approved their budgets. Most budgets easily passed. All area school districts were able to keep their budgets under the proposed tax cap. The last time school budgets failed locally was in 2010, when Brocton and Fredonia voters rejected their budgets that year.
BROCTON CENTRAL SCHOOL
The Brocton Central School District voters turned out to approve the budget by about a three-to-one margin. The actual vote was 189 in favor to 66 against. The proposed budget totaled $15,298,333 for the 2013-2014 school year.
OBSERVER Photo by Diane Chodan
Election inspectors at School 4 wait for voters to arrive. Fewer than 400 residents voted at the four different polling sites. Left to right are: Wilma Dopler, Joanne Halasinski and Karen Cunningham. The lever machines were used to conduct the vote.
The tax levy was a 1.99 percent increase over last year's levy.
Three individuals ran for two open seats on the Board of Education. Beth Jagoda received the most support with 183 votes, closely followed by Robert Mead-Colegrove who received 181 votes. Jagoda and Mead-Colegrove will fill the seats vacated by Susan Hardy and David Hazelton, who decided not to run for re-election. James Farrell received 80 votes.
Commenting on the budget vote, Superintendent John Hertlein said, "I am relieved by the results. We can move ahead for next year."
At the board of education meeting following the vote, Hertlein thanked all those who worked on the budget. He said, "It was a fair budget, an honest budget, and it will sustain us for another year."
He also indicated he was hoping for a favorable outcome on the merger vote which could help with finances and allow a consolidated district to restore programs for the students.
Jagoda and Mead-Colegrove indicated eagerness to serve on the board. Both said they were pleased with the education their children are receiving.
Jagoda said, "I am looking forward to working with the community and the district. I want our children to receive the best education they can get."
Mead-Colegrove said, "I am excited to work with the board and the community to ensure that our children continue to get a good education."
CASSADAGA VALLEY CENTRAL SCHOOL
At Cassadaga Valley Central School, the general budget in the amount of $19,967,698 was approved by 232 to 82 votes.
The district also had a second proposition on the ballot. By the margin of 219 to 88, voters approved the purchase of two new 60-passenger buses, one 22-passenger bus, and one Chevrolet Suburban at an aggregate estimated cost of $306,000.
In the election for school board, incumbent Jeanne Oag of Gerry received 233 votes. She ran unopposed for a five-year term. Daniel Pavlock of Sinclairville received 165 and was elected to a two-year term on the board.
CHAUTAUQUA LAKE CENTRAL SCHOOL
The Chautauqua Lake Central School Board's budget passed with 222 votes cast in favor and 77 votes opposed for the $19.5 million budget. The budget included a tax levy increase of 3.72 percent, the maximum amount allowed under the tax cap calculation, equating to a $410,000 increase.
In the race for two seats on the board of education, both incumbents retained their seats. Timothy Hull won the first seat with 195 votes while Kim Weborg-Benson won the second with 179 votes. Newcomer Mary Lee Talbot finished in a close third with 173 votes. Each seat has a three-year term.
DUNKIRK CITY SCHOOL DISTRICT
Residents of the Dunkirk City School District passed the 2013-2014 budget 318 votes to 66.
Superintendent Gary Cerne said he was happy voters passed the budget, which maintained a flat tax levy for the sixth year in a row, but was hoping for a larger turnout.
"It's an exciting time (when the budget passes), but I am a little disappointed with the turnout," he said.
Cerne noted Dunkirk is one of the few districts adding staff. He said the district is able to hire four full-time teachers in the middle school through a grant.
He said salaries and benefits made the budget a challenge, but the early retirement incentive, which resulted in nine CSEA and eight teacher retirements, helped the district balance the budget.
Voters also elected incumbents Kenneth Kozlowski and Linda Guy to three-year terms on the board of education with 294 and 288 votes respectively and Bridget Majka was elected to a one-year term with 280 votes.
The board met after the votes were tallied to approve the budget vote and election. At the meeting the board also approved another early retirement incentive. Cerne said this is identical to the previous incentive and was approved because of additional interest in the program which could equate to savings for the district in the 2014-2015 budget.
Board members will be sworn into office at the July 3 organizational meeting July 3 at 5:30 p.m. in the Large Group Instruction room.
The Forestville Central School budget of $8.4 million passed with 171 yes votes and 67 no votes.
The proposition to purchase buses and a van for 210,000 passed with 168 votes in favor and 69 opposed.
Incumbent Board Member Bruce Ellis ran for re-election to the board unopposed and received 194 votes.
"We are pleased with this result which is a reflection of the great support we have from our community," Superintendent Charles Leichner said. "I want to thank our board of education and our administration for the work they have done to develop a budget that is both responsible and forward-thinking."
FREDONIA CENTRAL SCHOOL
The Fredonia Central School Board's budget passed with 527 votes cast in favor and 398 votes opposed. Moderate applause filled the school's cafeteria as the results were read.
"Of course I'm very pleased that the budget has passed," said Fredonia School Superintendent Paul DiFonzo. "I want to thank our community, the taxpayers, for supporting the budget. I know it's very challenging; we have many people on fixed incomes, but our community recognizes the value of a good education program for students and I think they realize we've tried to be fiscally responsible."
"We're just happy that it has passed and we can move on with our budget and our plans for the next school year," said Rosie Joy, President of the Board. "Everything will stay in place as the budget goes as it was presented to the community."
Roberta Coniglio won re-election to another five-year term on the board with 712 votes cast in favor. Coniglio ran unopposed in the election.
GOWANDA CENTRAL SCHOOL DISTRICT
The Gowanda Central School District's budget passed with a vote of 217 to 103. The budget totaled $27,338,487 and was a 3.99 increase over the previous year. The tax levy was proposed as a 3.03 percent increase over the previous years.
The voters also voted on a proposition for the purchase of vehicles. Voters approved by a vote of 224 to 90 for the district to purchase two 66-passenger buses and one 29-passenger bus to not exceed the amount of $273,931. The district will trade in six larger buses and one smaller vehicle.
Voters also were voting to fill two vacant Board of Education seats. Incumbent R. Ann Martindale and Lynn Guzzetta were running. Martindale received 223 votes and Guzzetta received 260 votes, respectively.
NORTH COLLINS CENTRAL SCHOOL
The North Collins Central School Board's budget passed with 134 votes in favor and 81 votes opposed.
A proposition to purchase a new school bus and pick-up truck with a plow also passed with 149 votes in favor and 65 votes opposed. The purchase is to be made using money from the bus reserve and is not to exceed $220,000.
In the uncontested race for a five-year term to succeed Richard Foster on the board, Tammy Winter won with 179 votes.
The Pine Valley Central School budget passed with a vote of 180 to 104. The total budget for the 2013-2014 year totals $15,019,537 which is a 2.7 percent increase. The tax levy this year was a 3 percent increase, the first time in eight years the district has raised taxes.
Voters approved the elimination of a UPK mid-day bus run, extending the UPK program to full day and eliminating a bus monitor for that route. Included in the budget was also the elimination of .6 FTE custodial position and a reduction of the amount of sections of kindergarten from three sections to two. Grades 4 and 5 will have one section reduced.
Voters also approved the purchase of three vehicles not to exceed $336,538 by a vote of 159 to 125. The purchase will have an initial finance cost for approximately $55,000 in 2014-2015 school year. Voters also passed by a vote of 197 to 82 to have a non-voting student representative on the Board of Education.
Four candidates were running for three open seats on the Board of Education. Incumbents Lawrence Zollinger received 234 votes, Jo Ann Anderson received 209 votes and Janie Waag received 170 votes and were all elected. Newcomer Angelo Graziano received 136 votes.
RIPLEY CENTRAL SCHOOL
The Ripley Central School Board's budget passed with 205 votes cast in favor and 113 votes opposed.
A proposition for the purchase of buses and equipment from the vehicle reserve also passed with 204 votes cast in favor and 115 opposed.
Paul McCutcheon, who ran in an uncontested race for a three-year term on the Board, won with 211 votes cast in favor. In the race for a contested Board seat, Frederick Krause won re-election with 177 votes cast in favor of him. Wanda Bentley came in second with 141 votes cast in favor of her.
The Silver Creek School budget passed with 260 votes in favor and 110 votes opposed.
The district also had two propositions on the ballot. Proposition #2 to approve $118,978 in vehicle purchases from the capital reserve passed with 270 yes votes and 110 no votes. Proposition #3 to create a new capital reserve fund for up to $850,000 also passed with 248 yes votes and 105 no votes.
Incumbent Board of Education Member Gregory Cole was elected to a five-year term with 257 votes and Stephen Boothe was elected to a one-year term with 236.
Superintendent Daniel Ljiljanich said he is proud of the work that was done on the budget and believes the passage of the budget shows residents value education.
"I am really proud of all the work the administrative staff and the board of education did together in the budget process. I think (passing the budget shows) in Silver Creek we have a tax base that values education and taxes," he said.
The board will meet tonight at 7 p.m. in the board room to certify the budget votes and election and for a regular meeting.
WESTFIELD ACADEMY CENTRAL SCHOOL
In Westfield, the budget was approved with 159 votes in favor and 64 votes opposed.
In the uncontested election for a three-year term on the Board, incumbent Steve Cockram won with 175 votes.