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New Scotland Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, May 21, 2009

Coffin and Dozier still on board as Voorheesville voters support school, library budgets

By Saranac Hale Spencer

VOORHEESVILLE — Fewer than 1,000 voters turned up on Tuesday to pass the library and school budgets and keep incumbents on the board.

In a year marked by drastic budget cuts turned around by a last-minute windfall from federal stimulus money, voters passed the school’s $22 million spending plan for the 2009-10 school year by 276 votes — with 566 in favor and 290 opposed.

In a separate proposition, voters approved, by 304 votes, the purchase of a 60-passenger bus, not to exceed $99,600.

The library budget passed by 261 votes and Robert Parmenter, an incumbent board member who was unopposed, retained his library board seat with 570 votes.

“People don’t have any problem with what we’re thinking about,” said James Coffin, who won his fifth term on the school board with 497 votes, or 33 percent of the vote, when asked what he thought the vote reflected.  He has retired from a career with the State Education Department.  Cheryl Dozier, an assistant professor at the University at Albany, who was appointed to the board last fall and kept her seat with 44 percent of the vote — 653 votes, agreed.

“I think they’ll both do a good job,” said Justin Brusgul, a lawyer, who made his first run for school board this year — he garnered 339 votes, which is 23 percent.

One of the issues Brusgul raised during the campaign was term limits, which Voorheesville does not have.  “I would not be in favor of term limits for a board of education,” said Coffin, who has served for 20 years.  “Institutional memory is a great thing,” he concluded, saying that, without memory on the board, it is liable to repeat mistakes rather than avoid pitfalls.

“Jim has been an extraordinary mentor this year,” Dozier added after the results were in on Tuesday night.

As for voter turnout, which was lower this year than the last three years, Coffin pointed to a dearth of “major issues.”  The budget, which had been contentious when the governor proposed cutting much of the state aid for school districts, remained level with last year’s.

“The thing that saved us is the federal stimulus money,” Coffin said.  “No doubt about it.”

The public approved the budget to support the schools and because it is a fiscally responsible spending plan, said the school board’s president, David Gibson, on Tuesday night.  “I think the hard time is two years from now,” he said, referring to the end of the stimulus funds.

“People in this community appreciate the quality of education” provided by the school, said Dr. Raymond Colucciello, the district’s interim superintendent.

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