Island voters pass the school budget in a squeaker

JULIE LANE PHOTO The vote was in and he knew the budget had passed, but Superintendent Leonard Skuggevik was too tense to relax and enjoy the victory.

JULIE LANE PHOTO  Superintendent Leonard Skuggevik moments after he was informed the school budget had passed with the necessary margin of victory.

The Shelter Island School community is breathing a sigh of relief tonight after the $10.96 million budget received a vote just over the 60 percent needed to secure approval. The final tally was 311 yes to 205 no votes or 60.27 percent giving their assent.

Taxpayers can expect to pay an additional $17.24 per $100,000 of assessed valuation on their properties. But assessors will determine the exact amount of change.

A year ago, 82 percent of voters approved an $11 million budget proposal with 219 votes in favor and 48 against.

“Thank you,” was all Superintendent Leonard Skuggevik could muster after hearing how close the numbers had been just after 9 p.m. when the polls closed at the school.

“I was confident it would pass, but not at the level I would have hoped,” Board President Thomas Graffagnino said.

Had the budget failed, Board of Education members could have sought a second vote, either for the same or an adjusted budget.

Failure of a second vote to pass would have forced the district to adopt a contingency budget, requiring cuts totalling $559,127.

The cuts by state mandate would have had to come from athletics, cafeteria operation, co-curricular activities, the planned prekindergarten program for 4-year-olds, occupational education classes offered by Eastern Suffolk BOCES, field trips, driver’s education and/or equipment purchases.

With passage, all academic programs remain intact and plans to expand the prekindergarten program for 4-year-olds is assured.

As for the election of Board of Education members, incumbents Graffagnino and Mark Kanarvogel ran unopposed, both saying there was more work they wanted to accomplish. Mr. Graffagnino garnered 445 votes and Mr. Kanarvogel received 390 votes.

There were 15 write-in votes for Board of Education with Kyle Karen receiving three and others, including Mary Ellen Adipietro, one each.