School and library budgets sail through

The Enterprise — Elizabeth Floyd Mair

Assistant Superintendent for Business Neil Sanders announces that both the school and library budgets have passed, and that the highest vote-getter for the school board was Seema Rivera.

GUILDERLAND  — Waiting to hear that every school and library proposition passed easily, and knowing all candidates were guaranteed seats, a score of leaders and candidates relaxed as they gathered in the Guilderland Elementary gym for poll results to be tallied Tuesday night.

Mark Curiale, publicist for the Guilderland Public Library, shot baskets and Guilderland High School seniors who describe themselves as “students and admirers” of school board candidate Benjamin Goes poured sparkling cider into small cups.

The biggest suspense of the night lay in who would receive the most votes on each board.

The top vote-getter in the uncontested race for four seats on the board of education was Seema Rivera, with 1,429.

Next were Christine Hayes, with 1,400; Sean Maguire with 1,383; and Goes, with 1,224.

Rivera is currently the board’s vice president, and Hayes the president. Maguire and Goes are newcomers.

As the fourth-place finisher, Goes will fill the unexpired term of Christopher McManus, who resigned from the board in November 2017 and was replaced by Allan Simpson, who decided not to run for the seat. Goes will fill out a two-year term, while the other three will serve full three-year terms.

The $100.9 million school budget was approved, with 1,405 votes for and 567 against. The budget calls for spending $2.4 million more than this year, for a 2.48-percent increase over the current budget and will result in an estimated 2.2-percent tax-levy increase.

The budget includes 4.7 unassigned teaching positions, which is up from the four allotted for the current year. It also calls for dipping into the district’s fund balance, or rainy-day account, using $849,500, which is $244,500 more than the $605,000 used this year.

A $1.1 million proposition that would purchase eight large school buses, one wheelchair-accessible bus, one transportation minivan, and one large track mower also passed, with 1,414 “yes” votes and 549 “no.”

“It was a good vote on the budget,” said board member Gloria Towle-Hilt. She added, “Nice to see that.”

The Guilderland experience was typical of school budgets across the state — 97.6 percent were approved, according to an analysis by the New York State School Boards Association. That’s a slight dip from last year’s passage rate of 99.3 percent. This year, schools statewide proposed an average tax-levy increase of 2.14 percent for 2018-19.


The $3.9 million library budget passed with 1,360 “yes” and 599 “no” votes. It will raise the tax levy by 3.17 percent, from $3.7 million to $3.8 million.

The new library board is expected to continue to work on finalizing a $6.9M plan for expanding and upgrading the library that would include a bigger and better children’s room, a young-adult room, more and bigger meeting rooms, a cafe, improved staff work spaces, and a safer, greener parking lot.

The library trustee votes were, Sanders said: 1,317 for Marcantonio, 1,296 for Nareen Rivas, and 1,293 for Barry Uznitsky Nelson.

Marcantonio said on Wednesday, “I think it’s a good time to be involved with the board.” He is looking forward, he said, to helping to move the expansion plan closer to reality and to helping get the community on board.

Significantly fewer people voted this year than last, said Neil Sanders, assistant superintendent of business. For instance, he said, there were a total of 1,972 votes in the school budget vote, for and against, while last year there was a total of 2,625.

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