Landslide: Guilderland voters pass all school and library votes

The Enterprise — Elizabeth Floyd Mair

Joy: Superintendent Marie Wiles looks happy and relieved Tuesday night to hear that the Guilderland budget, capital project, and bus proposition all passed with wide margins. Behind her, re-elected board member Gloria Towle-Hilt celebrates.

GUILDERLAND — All five of the items on Guilderland’s ballots sailed through on Tuesday, most with a 2-to-1 approval ratio. The school and library budgets, the school and library capital projects, and the bus proposition all passed.

“We know this was asking a lot of the community, and on behalf of our students and future students, I just cannot say how great this feels,” said Superintendent Marie Wiles after the results were tallied on Tuesday night. “It’s a huge win for the community. It’s good for Guilderland.”

The closest vote was the $8 million library capital construction project, with 1,861 voters, or 58 percent, in favor, and 1,329, or 42 percent, against. The next-closest was the $31 million school capital construction project, with 1,967, or 63 percent in favor to 1,170, or 37 percent against.

The school project was scaled back from one that was defeated by 58 votes last October, and the library project was smaller than a proposal that had been defeated in 2012.

The $102 million school budget for next year passed, 2,145 to 1,087. The budget increases spending from this year by 1.2 percent and will increase the tax levy by 1.4 percent.

The numbers are not complete since votes from one of the five elementary-school polling places did not come in Tuesday night.

At Lynnwood Elementary School, the district’s Superintendent for Business Neil Sanders explained, a tape that came out of one voting machine was set down on a table and then, before its results could be recorded on a form, went missing. The results are still inside the machine, which Sanders said is “like a thumb drive,” and the Albany County Board of Elections will come to the school on Wednesday to take the machine, and should have results from that school at some point during the day, Sanders said.

“Everything passed at Lynnwood, but we don’t know the margins,” Sanders said.

The library board of trustees race was contested, and results were not available Tuesday night. The school board race was uncontested. Barbara Fraterrigo and Gloria Towle-Hilt retained their seats and newcomer Kelly Person was elected; she will join the board in July when Teresa Gitto’s term is over.

Superintendent Wiles said that the district will move right away to send safety-related items for an expedited review, to be able to start construction in the summer of 2020. These items include things like the fire-alarm system, telephone systems, and cameras, she said. They need to be completely designed — “every detail,” she said — before they can get an expedited review by the New York State Education Department.

The second wave of construction won’t start until the summer of 2021, she said. These items are not expedited, and will require Guilderland to get in a long queue of districts waiting for review. In order to get in the queue, she explained, all of the design and engineering needs to be completed.

Of the passage of the library construction project — a very different result from the resounding defeat in 2012 before Library Director Timothy Wiles came to Guilderland, he said, “One of the biggest differences between this effort and the one in 2012 was that we did a lot more listening. And that’s what we should do. ‘You tell me what you want.’”

More Guilderland News

  • Calling Guilderland’s fall reopening plan “a work in progress,” Superintendent Marie Wiles said, “We have not made any decisions on the structure … We’re doing our homework. We’re waiting for key guidance on the amount of distance we have to provide between and among students.”

  • At its June 24 meeting, the Guilderland Planning Board was asked by the town board to “make a decision on what improvements, if any, will be required at the Church Road/Western Avenue intersection and Church Road/Great Oaks Boulevard entrance.”

  • Asked why Guilderland was eager to change now when earlier administrations had been unwilling, Superintendent Marie Wiles said, “We’re at a watershed moment in our country. George Floyd and what happened to him just woke people up. Great numbers are starting to see there really is systemic racism that we haven’t been really appreciative of.” She also said, “We’ve got the trifecta,” and referenced the coronavirus pandemic, economic uncertainty, and social unrest. “Maybe that’s what it takes to wake us up,” said Wiles.

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