Clean sweep for budget, capital spending, board candidates

JULIE LANE PHOTO Superintendent Michael Hynes (right) paced the floor awaiting results, but shared his relief with building and grounds supervisor Mike Dunning after the vote was in.

Superintendent Michael Hynes (right) paced the floor awaiting results, but shared his relief with building and grounds supervisor Mike Dunning after the vote was in.

By a wide margin, voters gave thumbs up to Shelter Island’s school budget and capital spending proposal and returned three incumbents to the Board of Education.
It was a lopsided victory Tuesday for the Shelter Island School District with voters:

• Approving a $10.47 million budget by a vote of 216 to 47;

• A $381,000 proposition to spend money from its capital reserve fund by a vote of 215 to 29; and

• Re-electing three incumbents to the Board of Education.

Alfred Brigham got 208 votes in his bid to return for a second term. He had first joined the Board of Education in 2011 on a write-in campaign after incumbent Ken Lewis chose not to run.

Elizabeth Melichar will serve a second three-year term, garnering 191 votes.

Linda Eklund won 180 votes in her bid to serve a third term on the board to which she was first elected in 2008.

There were no write-in votes with a total of 263 people voting.

That’s what worried Superintendent Michael Hynes, who said the number of voters was down by 30 percent from last year. He was concerned voters might reject the capital spending, not being clear that the money involved was already set aside and wouldn’t affect taxes.

But the lopsided wins show approval of what he and the Board are doing, Dr. Hynes said.

“I thank the voters for having faith in us,” he said.

“The people believe in us,” said board member Thomas Graffagnino, who led the brief meeting to accept the results in the absence of board president Dr. Stephen Gessner.

“I’m happy that everything passed and the community has confidence,” Ms. Eklund said.

The other candidates were absent.

The approved budget keeps the district within the state-imposed 2 percent cap on the tax levy, raising spending by $425,064 or 4.3 percent more than the current spending plan. But increases in state aid, a legislative grant secured by Assemblyman Fred Thiele Jr. and money from the district’s fund balance amassed by careful spending, enabled the district to hold the tax increase down.

At the same time, the approval allows the district to proceed with additions to both its programs and staff.
Additions include:

• A pre-school program for 4-year-olds.

• A new first grade teacher since there won’t be a combined kindergarten and first grade class in the fall because of the number of students that would involve.

• A new dean who will coordinate sports and gym programs as well as tackling various other administrative responsibilities.

• Restoration of a cross country varsity program for boys and girls.

• A part-time English as a Second Language teacher.

• A foreign language teacher to instruct kindergarten through fifth grade students one period per week in Greek, Latin and Spanish. Greek and Latin are new to the curriculum.

• A field trip for sixth graders to the Frost Valley YMCA in the Catskills to participate in team-building activities.

• A school store for the purchase of supplies.

• A new truck to replace one from 1998 and a new gymnasium scoreboard.

Had the budget failed a second vote also failed, the Board of Education would have been forced to cut $155,063 from its spending plan.

Approval to spend $381,000 from its capital reserve fund will allow the district to proceed with:

• Flooring and carpeting

• An acid neutralization tank for the science lab

• A new fire alarm system

• Brick repointing and crack repair

The money has already been set aside in the capital reserve fund and doesn’t raise taxes. Voters had already approved creationof the capital reserve fund, but by law, needed voter approval to spend money from that fund.

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