By CAROLINE MURRAY
NORTHVILLE -- Voters gathered at Northville Central School District's gymnasium Tuesday evening to hear the fate of the twice-proposed $10 million budget.
With a thumbs up from interim Superintendent Debra Lynker, the crowd let out a collective sigh of relief -- the budget had passed.
The tally reported by school district officials was 388 yes, and 238 no. Lynker said the plan, which required a super-majority of 60 percent, passed by 12 votes.
"It's the super-majority. I am happy," she said.
The budget failed by just five votes May 20. District officials decided to try again Tuesday.
A super-majority was required because the spending plan exceeds the state-imposed property tax cap by 1.2 percent. In total, the levy will increase by 3.88 percent.
Incoming board member Dean Shepard said he was surprised by the narrow approval. Shepard thought more people would have voted after it failed last month.
"I expected it to be more overwhelmingly 'yes,' but I am glad that it passed," said Shepard, who was elected to the board of education last month to replace president Sheldon Ginter, who opted against re-election.
Unlike years past, Shepard said the spending plan added back the programs and academics students need in order to be successful in today's education system.
He said the budget was not frivolous, but only asking for a small increase in funds from the taxpayers in order to keep the district "alive."
The $10,557,162 spending plan includes a 3.2 percent increase in spending.
"Percentages are not always as telling as they should be," Shepard said. "A 3 percent increase here would be a much higher increase in some other school districts."
The budget also includes a part-time Spanish teacher for seventh- and eighth-graders, a computer information officer who will assist the current computer technician, a secondary teacher's assistant, and a part-time custodial worker.
The budget includes a salary for a full-time superintendent after Lynker retires July 1. Leslie Ford was hired earlier this year, so a full salary with benefits was restored to the budget.
An increase in funds also restores stipends for extra-curricular classes, clubs and athletic programs, including junior varsity softball and baseball teams.
Shepard said it was up to the board to prove to the taxpayers they made a good decision by passing the budget.
"We did add enough to start moving forward. Now we just have to make the best of it and see what we can do," Shepard said.
Ginter hopes the board continues to improve the budget moving forward.
He said this budget was not a significant increase in expenditures, but it was a good start.
He is leaving the board July 1 and said the budget passing was a positive note to leave on, but he does not take credit.
"I hope moving forward that my absence will be transparent and the board will be able to pick up and work with the new administrator and continue to look for improvements and accomplish new improvements for the education in Northville," Ginter said.