By JOSHUA THOMAS
For The Recorder
CANAJOHARIE — Voters in the three school districts on the westernmost end of Montgomery County approved 2017-18 budgets Tuesday and appointed new board of education members in the Canajoharie and Oppenheim-Ephratah-St. Johnsville central school districts.
CCSD voters approved a $21,885,850 budget for the 2017-18 school year, 278 voting for the proposed budget and 172 voting against. Voters also elected Chris Fatta to the board of education.
Fatta received 283 votes to Jeff Hill’s 153, securing him a five-year term on the board.
The budget approved by voters carries a 2.54 increase in spending and a tax levy increase of $106,993 — within the district’s tax levy limit of 1.53 percent.
“I am grateful to our community for their support of our students’ education,” CCSD Superintendent of Schools Deborah Grimshaw said.
“We are excited to be expanding our 4-year-old prekindergarten class, expand our technology support so we can support additional student technology use in the district, support new classes at the high school including Anatomy and Physiology and Music Technology, and continue to support the implementation of our Conscious Discipline at East Hill, and project based learning. All current programs and services are maintained,” she said.
Fort Plain Central School District voters approved a $19,890,000 budget for the 2017-18 school year, 159 voting for the budget proposal, and 48 voting against. The approved budget calls for a 2 percent spending increase over the current year’s budget with a 1.95 percent tax levy increase.
In addition, residents re-elected three board of education members to three-year terms commencing on July 1, 2017, and expiring on June 30, 2020. David Przestrzelski received 161 votes, Todd McFee received 179, and Jeffrey L. Jones received 173.
Voters also approved a proposal authorizing the use of $270,000 from the district’s bus purchase reserve fund for the purchase of new school vehicles, with 155 affirmative votes.
Expenditures of reserve funds require voter approval, but since 100 percent of the cost is paid from the fund, there will be no impact on the tax levy.
“We deeply appreciate the continued strong support our schools receive from the Fort Plain community,” Fort Plain Superintendent David Ziskin said. “This budget positions our district to maintain programs and foster growth in key areas that will lead to a safe, highly productive learning environment in each of our schools.”
Ziskin continued of the board of education, “We worked very hard to draft a budget that was responsive to the needs of our students and responsible to the capacity of our tax base to support.”
He said while the budget contains a tax levy increase of 1.95 percent because of Dominion Transmission’s expiring PILOT agreement the business will now become part of the district’s tax base, meaning, according to Ziskin, “even though the levy went up, there will be a possibility it won’t effect individual tax bills.”
OESJ voters approved a $18,655,925 budget for the 2017-18 school year, 305 voting for the proposed budget, and 115 against. The budget decreases spending by $169,005 compared to the current budget, carrying no tax levy increase for the fourth consecutive year.
Newcomers Randall Snell and Sarah Barnes were elected to three-year-terms on the board of education, receiving 288 and 262 votes respectively. Incumbent board member Stephanie Dye received 155 votes.
Voters also approved several propositions, including one requesting that Oppenheim and Johnstown residents within the school district contribute to OESJ’s annual $70,000 payment to the Margaret Reaney Memorial Library, 276 voting for, 140 against.
Voters also approved, with a vote of 309 to 105, the $118,911 purchase of one 65-passenger bus, the money being taken from the bus purchase reserve fund, with no impact on OESJ tax rates.
“I’m pleased with the overwhelming support of the budget, and pleased with the turnout,” OESJ Superintendent David Halloran said. “I appreciate everybody that came out to vote. 74 percent of the voting population approved the budget. That says a lot — when three out of four people tell you to keep doing what you’re doing.”
Halloran also said he’s “excited” to work with the incoming board members.
He said of outgoing BOE Member Stephanie Dye, “She did a great job for us on the board and I’m sorry to see her go. She was in it for the right reasons. She’s a good person and I enjoyed working with her.”