Three thumbs up in Guilderland

The Enterprise — Melissa Hale-Spencer

Vote tallies in hand, school and library leaders share a light moment after learning both budgets passed. Guilderland schools Superintendent Marie Wiles is on the left and her husband, Timothy Wiles, the director of the Guilderland Public Library, is on the right. Between them are the assistant superintendents for the Guilderland schools — from left, Lin Severance for human resources, Demian Singleton for instruction and curriculum, and Neil Sanders for business.

GUILDERLAND — The school district’s $96.6 million budget for next year passed with 72 percent of the vote.

“I’m thrilled,” said Superintendent Marie Wiles Tuesday night just after unofficial election results were reported. “We’re very appreciative for our community being so supportive.

“It’s good for kids and good for our taxpayers,” she said of the budget with tax rates estimated to increase by 0.74 percent.

“I’m not thrilled; I’m delighted,” said her husband, Timothy Wiles, director of the Guilderland Public Library, on the passage of the library’s $3.6 million spending plan.

Timothy Wiles noted that the “yes” votes were up from 66 percent last year to 69.4 percent this year while the “no” votes were down from 34 percent last year to 31 percent this year.

“We’re moving in the right direction,” he said.

Similarly, the $1,156,000 bus proposition passed with 69.8 percent of the vote. This will pay for seven big buses, three smaller buses, and two buses that will accommodate wheelchairs, and a tractor. About half of the cost of the buses will be covered by state aid.

Each of the propositions passed by wide margins at all five elementary-school polling places. Across the state, voters approved 99.7 percent of school district budgets, according to an analysis by the New York State School Boards Association.

Guilderland voters also cast their ballots in an uncontested race for school board, returning both Barbara Fraterrigo and Gloria Towle-Hilt to the board and electing newcomer Teresa Gitto who will replace retiring board member Colleen O’Connell.

Towle-Hilt, 67, a retired middle school teacher, was the top vote-getter with 1,554. She won a fifth three-year term on the board. She noted earlier that her tenure began “just as the recession hit” and said, “We’ve come through a difficult time. I’m hoping now we’ll be able to take positive steps.”

Fraterrigo, 73, the longest serving member of the board, is still pushing for the teaching of what she calls “lifelong skills.” She manages her husband’s ophthalmology practice, and will now serve a seventh term. She came in second with 1,470 votes.

Gitto garnered 1,441 votes while making her first bid for the unpaid post. While both Fraterrigo and Towle-Hilt are mothers to grown Guilderland graduates, Gitto, 39, is the mother of three current Guilderland students — one at Lynnwood Elementary School and the other two at Farnsworth Middle School.

“I’d like to see how tax dollars are used to see if there’s a better way to use those funds,” said Gitto of her reason for running. She works both as a real estate agent and doing electrolysis for a local spa.

This is the first budget since Marie Wiles has led the district that, with an increase in state aid, Guilderland was able to add rather than cut posts.

Fourteen posts will be added next year and high school students will have a chance to be part of a new STEAM Academy; STEAM stands for science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics. Also next year, the district will lease unused classrooms at Altamont and Pine Bush elementary schools and at the middle school, to a prekindergarten provider.

“We’ve turned a corner,” said Wiles on Election Night.

She also noted that voter turnout was down. In addition to there being an uncontested board race, Wiles noted, “There weren’t any controversies connected to the budget.”

Only one person — incumbent Bryan Best — ran for the library board although two seats were open. He garnered 1,583 votes.

Best, 29, is director of research for the Minority Conference of the Albany County Legislature.

Best won his seat in 2011 as a write-in candidate. Currently, according to Timothy Wiles, two people launched write-in campaigns for the second library board seat: Jason Wright and Michael Hawrylchak.

Wright ended up winning the seat with 64 votes, according to results compiled Wednesday by Neil Sanders, assistant superintendent for business for the Guilderland schools. Hawrylchak garnered 49 votes, and Michael Marcantonio got 24. Altogether, there were 251 write-in votes for library trustee; the vast majority were one-vote candidates.

There were also 82 write-in votes for school board; again, the vast majority were one-vote candidates. Rose Levy, a former school board member, garnered the most with four votes.

Updated on May 18, 2016: Write-in vote results were added when they became available the day after the election.

More Guilderland News

  • In a Jan. 5 letter to the Surface Transportation Board, village attorney Allyson Phillips writes that Altamont is opposed to CSX’s attempted acquisition of Pan Am Systems because the running of a 1.7-mile-long train twice per day over the Main Street railroad crossing would leave parts of the village inaccessible to emergency responders for as long as 10 minutes.  

  • Many of the women who supported the men who fought village fires have pressed on to fight fires themselves.

  •  In those first 10 years, it seemed no one dared go above 30 miles per hour, “which we enjoyed, especially living on Main Street,” said Altamont resident Mya Sullivan, but over the past year, she has begun to see drivers flying down Route 146. 

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