Onteora district school voters at the May 20 elections easily approved the 2014-2015 budget of $51,876,125, which represented a .52 percent spending increase but projected tax levy with no increase from the previous year. The votes in all four voting districts totaled 778 voting yes to 260 no votes. Only the three Board candidates, Gideon Moor, Tanya Davis and Rick Wolff along with family could be found at Tuesday night’s Board of Education Meeting at the Middle/High school auditorium. Audience onlookers, who in the past sometimes stop by to witness election results first hand, were absent.
Proposition Two asked voters to approve Capital Projects that will fund improvements to school facilities. It had an easy passage of 629 to 252. Once the results came in, hugs from Superintendent Dr. Phyllis Spiegel-McGill were given all around and a special thank-you was directed toward Trustee Rob Kurnit who chairs the facilities committee and oversaw Proposition Two, which will free up $7 million from capital reserves for needed repairs. “We are very pleased with the budget passing and the proposition passing and we are happy with the results for our board trustees,” McGill said. “We are looking forward to 2014-2015.”
Trustee Laurie Osmond excitedly added, “We are the first school district in Ulster County to approve and use wood pellet heat that will cut down on our oil consumption.” Phoenicia will be receiving a new biomass wood pellet boiler. However 80 percent of the funds will go towards Middle/High school repairs.
Davis tops Wolff in write-ins
Though there were three open school board seats, there were only two candidates on the ballot, Moor and McGillicuddy — the two top vote getters. Newcomer Moor, received the most votes with 657 and incumbent McGillicuddy came in second with 622 votes. The third highest vote getter was write-in candidate Tanya Davis with 345 votes. She formally accepted a seat on the board, required for a write-in candidate. The three-year seats will become effective in July. Former board member Rick Wolff, who put forward his name as a write-in in recent weeks, garnered 235 write-in votes. Other names were found on ballots, such as one for Rita Vanacore, Jay Braman, J.R.R. Tolkien’s character Gollum, Redneck and Jinglecats. District Secretary to Superintendent Fern Amster said Woodstock reported too many various write-in names to list.
Olive/Marbletown districts were the last to call in results, taking nearly two hours past the 9 p.m. poll closing at Bennett School. Discrepancies with the write-in votes and problems with the old lever voting machines were the cause of the hold up. Trustees and school officials commented that this was supposedly the last year the district would use the old lever machines.
Voter turnout was low, with slightly over 1000 people voting in a district with approximately 11,256 registered voters.
All towns approved the budget: Olive/Marbletown 204-131, Shandaken/Lexington 142-42, Woodstock 276-38, and West Hurley approved 156-49. Proposition two for the Capital Project was also easily approved: Olive/Marbletown 184-142, Shandaken/Lexington 139-32, Woodstock 159-31, and West Hurley 147-47.
In other news…
An hour before the polls closed the Board of Education met for district business. Listed and approved on the consent agenda was the resignation of Woodstock Principal, Dr. Kathleen O’Brien after having served for one-year. She replaced Bobbi Schnell who retired. Personal reasons noted O’Brien’s departure that will take affect in July. McGill said there is an active search for a new principal.