VCSD: $26M budget passes with ease; three elected to school board

— From Tricia Putman

Tricia Putman was the big winner in this week’s Voorheesville School Board election, earning 1,335 votes and a four-year term on the board. 

NEW SCOTLAND — With the Albany County Board of Elections not sharing its voting machines due to the upcoming June 23 primary, a seven-and-a-half-hour hand-count that started on Monday and ended on Tuesday revealed that Voorheesville School District voters overwhelmingly approved a $26 million budget for next year. 

The school board will also have two new trustees and one returning member when the board holds its reorganizational meeting in July. 

For the Voorheesville Public Library, Sarah Brunt bested Lance Moore for a five-year trustee term, as voters resoundingly approved a $1.35 million budget for 2020-21.

There was no in-person voting this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic; paper ballots were cast by mail or were dropped off at the district office. 

A total of 1,600 ballots were cast this year, up a third from the 1,210 people who voted last year, which was nearly double the 655 votes that were cast in 2018. While in 2017, just over 500 voted; in 2016, 966 voted; 766 voted in 2015; and in 2014, there were 590 votes cast.

Three candidates won seats in a four-way race:

Tricia Putman was the big winner, garnering 1,335 votes and winning a four-year term;

Timothy Kremer, who was appointed in December 2019 to fill Michael Canfora’s seat until the election, also won a four-year term, earning 1,113 votes; and

Argi O’Leary, with 1,016 votes, will serve the remaining two years of Canfora’s term.

The fourth candidate, Bryan Richmond, came in a distant fourth with 521 votes. 

The proposed $26 million budget for next year — which raises property taxes by 3 percent — was approved 1,173 to 409.

Voters also approved, by a 1,135-to-433 vote, $236,000 for bus purchases.

At the library, Brunt received 803 votes to Moore’s 543. Voters approved next year’s library budget, 1,168 to 414.

With nearly 75-percent voter approval of the library’s 2020-21 budget, Library Director Sarah Clark said, “It was really nice to see the support during a time of economic uncertainty, and, during times of economic uncertainty, libraries can play a really positive role in a community. So we’ll do our best to help people in the next year.”

Putman said of her victory, “It’s just a mixture: grateful, humbled, honored. Everyone’s been so supportive. It’s been such a weird campaign because you can’t go door-to-door; you can’t meet and greet with people. 

She continued, “But it’s just been amazing how people find ways to support you … There’s [been] a very sweet outpouring — you always don’t expect it, so you’re always so grateful when you see it.”

Kremer, reacting to the election and winning a four-year term, said, “Absolutely, I’m very excited. I cannot imagine a time when being on a school board is going to be more challenging.”

In the short-term, he said, the board and administration has to figure out how to reopen schools. In the long-term, he said, Voorheesville will be rethinking the delivery of public education in the wake of COVID-19 — the use of technology; proper distancing and class size; transportation methods; and food-service operations.

“I think it’s going to be an extraordinary time,” Kremer said. “What I like about being on the school board, is that the school board is going to be right there at the center, helping along with the administration to figure out these kinds of policy decisions.”

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