The Kingston City School District saw its $161.6 million budget proposal meet with overwhelming success at the polls on Tuesday, with nearly two-thirds of voters giving the spending plan their approval.
In unofficial results, the budget proposal passed 1,548-860. A proposition to sell a 0.28-acre easement near Dietz Stadium to the Thomas Allen Corp. was also a success, with an unofficial 1,788-532 result.
In the race for three open seats on the Board of Education, challenger Suzanne Jordan came out on top, with 1,851 votes. Incumbents Kathy Collins (1,717) and James Michael (1,228) held onto their seats for three-year terms, while the Rev. Arthur L. Coston, Sr. will finish out his term in June after placing fourth with 1,008 votes. Except at John F. Kennedy, where Jordan and Collins tied with 188 votes apiece, the order held at all polling places.
The budget rolled to a clean sweep in all seven elementary schools, faring particularly well at Ernest C. Myer (257-85), Harry L. Edson (268-134), Chambers (209-105) and JFK (170-91). The budget also passed at George Washington (181-129), Robert R. Graves (285-192) and Edward R. Crosby (178-124).
“It was nice to have that kind of margin,” said Superintendent Paul Padalino. “It’s nice to see that we’re not just holding one attendance zone or voting district. There’s a wide range of support across the district. That is meaningful.
Collins said she was eager to begin her second three-year term on the school board.
“I’m grateful that KCSD voters came out to support the budget, and thankful for their faith in my candidacy,” she said. “On a personal level, that voter response makes me feel validated in the work I’m doing on the board. It’s humbling, and inspires me to work hard. Now I’m looking forward to getting down to work to continue the progress we made last term.”
Jordan was also pleased with the results of the vote.
“I greatly appreciate the community support for my election to the board of education,” she said. “It reinforces my desire to advocate for policies and programs on the state and local level that will be of benefit to our students.”
The budget proposal includes a spending increase of $5.12 million, a 3.27 percent bump over the 2015-16 budget. Though the district was given a property tax levy increase limit of 3.37 percent, Padalino said that even before the state budget gave the district an even greater boost in aid than anticipated, the plan was always to come in under the cap. The local tax levy will increase by 1.98 percent under the approved budget.
“We felt we had presented a really solid and fair budget,” Padalino said. “Just being out in the community and seeing people at our meetings and budget forums, it seemed pretty clear that people were pleased with what we were putting forward. If anything, I think some people I spoke to, a lot of them were more along the lines of, ‘How come you’re not increasing the budget more?’ But there’s a balance we have to strike, and when you’re in the central administration building during tax collection time, you realize that there are a lot of different viewpoints out there, and we want to make sure that we’re doing what’s right for kids and also what’s right for the community and taxpayers. And this is New York State; we’re taxed a lot. So we try to do everything we can to be efficient and keep the burden as low as it can possibly be for taxpayers.”