All school district budgets pass

All area school budgets and other ballot propositions passed Tuesday. Residents, however, did select some new board officials.

The biggest change is in Pine Valley where only one of five incumbents won re-election. Cassadaga Valley elected one new member over its incumbent as well.

Below are the results:

BROCTON CENTRAL SCHOOL

Brocton’s $16,554,423 budget was approved by 187 voters on Tuesday, with 50 residents voting against the proposal.

A total of 240 ballots were cast, including 10 absentee votes.

Superintendent John Hertlein said the community came out to support their school because “they believe in it.”

“The board and myself couldn’t be more pleased with the outcome,” he added. “We can now run for another year.”

The voter-approved budget constitutes an increase of 8.21 percent, or $1,256,090, mainly due to the state-aidable EXCEL Capital Project, as well as salary and benefit increases. A tax levy increase of 1.45 percent, or $65,226, should take effect for the 2014-15 fiscal year. That would make the total levy $4,552,172.

“We think this is a fair budget and we think the small increase in the levy will be something most people can deal with,” Hertlein said. “Hopefully the governor will come across on his promise and reimburse the people for that increase (through his property tax freeze initiative).”

For the school board election, incumbent Thomas DeJoe won another five-year term with 180 votes. DeJoe was the only candidate running for the seat; Hertlein attributed a lower-than-average voter turnout to that fact.

CASSADAGA VALLEY CENTRAL SCHOOL

Voters in the Cassadaga Valley School District approved the budget for 2014-15 school year with a 325 to 92 vote. Proposition two to award funding for three school buses was passed by a 334 to 79 vote margin. Proposition three to award the $800,000 to save for a capital improvement reserve fund passed 330 to 84.

Beverly LeBaron won the lone school board seat (227 votes) in a tight race with David Christy (193 votes), who was seeking re-election. The school board will welcome its new member officially in July.

A total of 430 voters that participated in this year’s school election.

This is more voters than usual, according to District Clerk Kristen Lopian, who said the district usually gets about 220 voters.

Election Inspector Carol Lorenc predicted there would be some serious voting over the budget and the one school board member position.

“It is nice the school board and county election ensures privacy and makes it easier for people to vote every year,” she said about the computerized way of voting, and the cardboard sheets placed over the ballots as they are handed out to voters.

CHAUTAUQUA LAKE CENTRAL SCHOOL

The Chautauqua Lake School budget passed 186 to 77. A majority of the 263 total voters approved the budget which increased the tax levy by 1.99 percent.

The tuition agreement with Ripley Central School stabilized elective offerings in the high school and the district was also able to maintain staffing and programs in the elementary school. Also included in the budget were critical maintenance items for the district’s buildings and grounds.

Voters did not vote on any propositions other than the budget.

Incumbents Deborah Cross-Fuller and Jay Baker as well as newcomer Mary Lee Talbot were elected to three-year terms. Previous board of education member Jason Delcamp did not run for re-election.

DUNKIRK CITY SCHOOL DISTRICT

The proposed $41,177,757 budget in Dunkirk passed by about a five-to-one margin, with 259 in favor and 53 opposed.

Superintendent Gary Cerne said he was thrilled with the results and thanked the voters for supporting the budget.

“Also, we’re very appreciative for people coming out in such crummy weather tonight,” he added. “We’re looking forward to another good year now.”

A $73,000 slump in the payment in lieu of taxes agreement with NRG Energy Inc., as well as rises in salaries and benefits, led to a minor increase in the tax levy of .95 percent, or $91,338, to a total levy of $9,705,854. The overall budget constitutes a .62 percent increase, or $254,361, over the current year.

Cerne attributed a lower-than-average voter turnout to the weather, which included occasional downpours and some thunder and lightning.

The board of education was initially going to hold a special meeting immediately after the vote to canvass the results, but due to the weather, that has been rescheduled for today at 4 p.m. in the large group instruction room of the administrative building.

For the school board election, incumbent David Damico and newcomer Adam Reisenweber earned two three-year seats, with 259 votes and 205 votes, respectively.

The third three-year term up for grabs this year was decided by write-in ballots since no other candidate actively campaigned for the position. Current board member Bridget Majka received 35 votes and accepted returning to her seat once Cerne called her after the results came in to inform her she had the third-most number of votes.

Other write-in ballots cast included 22 for Timothy Stolinski, seven for Gary Pignataro, two for Mark Lawrence, two for Vicky Westling, one for Al Feser and one for Richard Sam.

FORESTVILLE

CENTRAL SCHOOL

The school budget for the 2014-15 school year passed with a 167 to 66 vote. The proposition for buses and related equipment passed by a 178 to 56 margin. The proposition for the planned improvement project passed with a 172 to 61 vote.

Sylvester Cleary received 190 votes for his re-election as school board president. Carol Woodward received 175 votes for her re-election as board vice-president. Rodney Rogers received 163 votes for his re-election as a board member. The three ran uncontested.

FREDONIA CENTRAL SCHOOL

Voters in Fredonia passed the $29,651,244 budget proposal by about a two-to-one margin.

A total of 770 voters were cast on the budget question, with 521 ballots in favor of passage and 249 opposed.

Superintendent Paul DiFonzo said he was pleased with the results and thanked the voters who took the time to come out and vote, whether they cast their ballot in favor or against the budget.

“It’s always difficult when there’s any tax raise at all, and even though ours was relatively small, it’s going to have an impact on the community, and we realize that,” he added. “We’re trying to be fiscally prudent, but our number one job is making sure students get the programs they need. We have to continue to find creative ways to provide programming without costing our taxpayers more money.”

The voter-approved budget constitutes a 3.12 percent increase, or $925,118, mainly due to $1.1 million in skyrocketing salary and benefit costs, including the addition of universal pre-kindergarten salaries, with the exit of Dunkirk from the combined program. The tax levy should increase by a much smaller amount, .87 percent, or $131,804, bringing the total levy to $15,210,823.

DiFonzo pointed out voter turnout this year was lower than average.

“I think it’s a case where many of the voters looked at the actual budget and saw that there was an .87 percent increase in the levy, and I was a little surprised since we had a competitive school board race,” he said.

Only nine votes separated second and third place in the school board election. Incumbent R. Thomas Hawk and former board member Daniel Ihasz won terms to two five-year seats, with 482 and 456 votes, respectively, while newcomer Cristina Gegenschatz trailed at 447 votes.

“All three candidates did an excellent job in sharing their views and all of them received a great number of votes,” DiFonzo said.

GOWANDA CENTRAL SCHOOL

Voters in the Gowanda Central School district voted to approve the proposed budget of $28,208,720 with a vote of 293 to 81. They also voted on a transportation purchase from reserves not to exceed $225,417. This proposition included the purchase of two 66-passenger buses. The proposition passed with a vote of 297 to 69.

For the Board of Education, four candidates were vying for three three-year terms. Winning seats on the board were Peter A. Delpriore with 326 votes, Mary Stratton with 278 votes and incumbent Mark D. Nephew with 264 votes. Joseph L. DeCarlo received 245 votes.

“It is good to witness again the community’s support of public education here in the Gowanda School District. Thank you to all those who voted today and welcome to our new and returning school board members,” Superintendent Charles Rinaldi said.

NORTH COLLINS CENTRAL SCHOOL

The North Collins Central School’s proposed budget of $15,241,754 passed with a vote of 160 to 58. The district’s proposition for a vehicle purchase not to exceed $255,000 also passed with a vote of 162 to 56.

The district kept all programs intact this year and added programs. The budget added additional 1.3 FTE special education teachers and two teacher aides.

Incumbent Mark Snow was running uncontested for the Board of Education. He received 161 votes.

PINE VALLEY

CENTRAL SCHOOL

The Pine Valley Central School proposed budget of $15,819,650 passed with a vote of 219 to 136 votes. Voters in the district also approved a transportation purchase to not exceed $275,048. The proposition passed with a vote of 200 to 155 votes.

There will be a number of new faces on the board of education.

In a highly contested race, eight candidates were vying for five seats. The four candidates who won a three-year term were Rex Butcher with 359 votes, Stephen Raiport with 290 votes, Montgomery Sticek with 271 votes and Angelo Graziano with 222 votes. All four are new board members. A two-year term to fill a board vacancy was won by incumbent Patricia Krenzer with 220 votes. Incumbents Jeffrey Chase received 159 votes, Matthew Waag 153 votes and Michael Pease 146 votes.

Superintendent Pete Morgante was pleased the budget passed with the vehicle purchase being approved. He also congratulated the new board members.

RIPLEY CENTRAL SCHOOL

Ripley’s school budget passed 116 to 51. A majority of the 166 total voters approved the budget, which included a tax rate decrease of $1.50 per thousand dollars assessed valuation. The proposed 2014-2015 full-value tax rate is $26.63.

The district also voted on two propositions. The first for the purchase of two buses, one with a wheel chair lift, for $245,000 was passed by voters 115 to 51. The second for a $2 million capital project also passed 114 to 51. This project will replace the building’s roof and boilers and repair the masonry, sidewalks and parking lot. The project is funded 97.5 percent through state building aid.

Board of education members R. Theodore Rickenbrode and Robert J. Bentley were re-elected to three-year terms with 132 and 114 votes respectively. There were 16 write in votes for other candidates.

SILVER CREEK

CENTRAL SCHOOL

The Silver Creek School budget passed 269 to 83. A majority of the 352 total voters approved the 2.05 percent increase in the 2014-2015 tax levy.

Superintendent Daniel Ljiljanich attributed the overwhelming support from district voters to the great work of teachers.

“I am very pleased, as is the board of education. I think this is a reflection in the confidence that the educators in the building provide to our residents every day,” he said.

District voters also approved a proposition to purchase one bus for $108,987 from the capital vehicle reserve by a vote of 282 to 70.

Incumbent board of education members Matt Bogosian and Steve Boothe were elected to five-year terms. They ran unopposed.

Ljiljanich added he and board of education members are happy to have both incumbents back on the board.

WESTFIELD ACADEMY AND CENTRAL SCHOOL

The 2014-15 school year proposed budget passed.

According to school officials, Brenda Backus and Marie Edwards won the two seats for three-year terms on the school board. The third seat for a two-year term was won by a write-in vote for Mark Winslow.

The exact voting numbers were not made available Tuesday.

Contributing to this report were staff members Greg Fox, Nicole Gugino, Samantha McDonnell and Jasmine Willis.