VCSD board Prez Monaghan not running for fourth term; four candidates seek two board seats

— Voorheesville School Board President Cindy Monaghan has declined to run for a fourth term. 

NEW SCOTLAND —  After 12 years on the Voorheesville Board of Education, the last three as its president, Cindy Monaghan has decided against running for a fourth four-year term, leaving the seat at an active and contentious time in local politics. 

“Since starting my role as President I have watched a very new board quickly grow into a seasoned, caring and extremely effective board.  I have deep respect for each of my fellow board members,” Monaghan told The Enterprise in an email. “The same can be said about our Superintendent who has also blossomed over his first few years of employment.”

She continued, “I am so very confident that he is going to bring our community to the next level. I decided not to run again after 3 terms to allow myself time to pursue other volunteer interests in addition to my job. With such a competent Board of Education and Superintendent in place the timing is perfect for me to move on.”

Two seats are up for grabs on May 17: Monaghan’s and incumbent Argi O’Leary’s. The posts are unpaid.

As of Monday at 1 p.m., four petitions had been returned, by: O’Leary, Robyn Willoughby, Erika Smitkin, and Vincent Commisso. 

The deadline was 5 p.m., so it’s possible other candidates have submitted petitions — six pulled papers. It’s vacation week for schools, and no one was in the district office on Tuesday to confirm if more candidates had submitted petitions after 1 p.m. on Monday. 

Across the country, school board elections have become the latest front in the culture war: With some parents arguing they should have the right to choose whether or not their children wear masks, and that they should have a hand in how topics like race and racism and sexuality and identity are taught in the classroom.

Into that breach step four local candidates.

O’Leary won the expiring term of Michael Canfora two years ago. Willoughby is a teacher in a local school district. 

Commisso has been a fairly frequent and ardent critic of the board and its support of mask mandates. Smitkin appears to have only once expressed her support for unmasking students on social media, while on her Facebook candidate page she offers to be a voice for all.


Next year’s budget

At their April 4 meeting, school board members approved a $28.1 million budget for the 2022-23 school year to send to voters for their approval on May 17.

Next year’s proposed budget is up about 4.4 percent over this year’s voter-approved spending plan. 

Much of next year’s budget will be paid for by property taxes, which will increase by 2.5 percent over this year, to $19.75 million. The district expects to receive a total of $7.3 million from New York State next year — an 18.6-percent bump over this year primarily due to an increase in Foundation Aid, which is set to increase from approximately $3.76 million to about $4.3 million.

Voorheesville’s other sources of revenue for next year are an approximate $704,000 fund-balance allocation; $389,500 from a budget-line item labeled “Other Income”; and $40,000 from the federal government. 

Based on the district’s growth factor, the actual tax rate property owners will pay for next year is expected to increase by less than 1 percent. 

This year, New Scotland residents have a school tax rate of $19.91 per $1,000 of assessed value; in Guilderland, it’s $18.12 per $1,000; and in Berne, residents have a tax rate of $33.55 per $1,000 of assessed value of their home, according to the district. ​


Voorheesville Public Library

In addition to choosing a new trustee, residents of the Voorheesville Central School District will once again be asked to vote on the public library’s budget for 2022-23.

With trustee Janna Shillinglaw unable to run because library bylaws prohibit a third term on the board, two candidates have emerged for her seat: Linda Conway and Georgia Gray, who is the former head of Voorheesville’s planning commission. Gray is the wife of Enterprise columnist and village historian Dennis Sullivan. Conway is the wife of former mayor Robert Conway. 

Voters did not get to approve the $1.2 million library budget for this year because the spending plan did not increase property taxes. State Education Law says an annual budget vote for libraries isn’t required because, once the spending plan has been approved by residents, it’s “considered an annual appropriation until changed by further vote,” according to the law itself. Library Director Sarah Clark told The Enterprise last year that, if there’s no tax increase, the budget won’t be put up for a public vote.

At $1.22 million, next year’s proposed budget is up about 2.1 percent over this year’s, with the single-largest increase attributable to contractual services. 

The library is planning improvements to its vestibule, adult reading area, circulation desk, and children’s area. It is receiving state-grant funding to offset some of the costs. 

The library is looking to increase its property-tax take by about 2 percent, from about $1.17 million to approximately $1.2 million. 

New Scotland and Guilderland residents served by the public library, which follows school district lines, would see an estimated two-penny increase in their tax rates, while Berne residents would have a four-penny increase.

This year, New Scotland residents have a tax rate of $1.21 per $1,000 of assessed value; in Guilderland, it’s $1.10 per $1,000; and in Berne, residents have a tax rate of $2.04  per $1,000 of assessed value of their home, according to the library. ​


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