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New Scotland Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, May 20, 2010

At Voorheesville
Budget sails through, Kroencke is unseated

By Saranac Hale Spencer

VOORHEESVILLE — A slate of newcomers took the two open seats on the school board in Tuesday’s election.

Four candidates, including incumbent Kevin Kroencke, vied for the spots with Cindy Monaghan and Kristine Gravino coming in first and second.  Both of them were seeking seats for the first time and they ran as a team.  Justin Brusgul made his second run for the board and came in a close fourth — the bottom three candidates were within about 20 votes of each other, according to unofficial results from the district.

The district’s $22 million budget passed by roughly the same margin as last year, with about 60 percent of the nearly 965 voters supporting the spending plan.

“I would think, with the positive vote, the voters saw the effort on the part of the school district,” Sarita Winchell, the assistant superintendent for business, said yesterday, noting that the budget had remained, essentially flat.  The tax levy will increase by just under 3 percent because of the shortage in state aid.

Winchell is already taking notes for the preparation of the coming year’s budget, she said yesterday, and she expects to start putting numbers together at the end of the summer.  Districts across the state are now facing what has been called the cliff year, since federal stimulus money that had filled the gap for the lack of state aid over the last two years will run out.

“I do not see anything extra coming to school districts,” Winchell said of aid money.  Asked what that meant for Voorheesville, she said, “I don’t want to look at the crystal ball yet.”

The district is still digesting and analyzing information, she said.

“We’re in a tough year,” Monaghan said of the budget after the votes were tallied.  She came in first, getting 34 percent of the vote.  She repeatedly thanked “friends and neighbors that supported me.”

The pair will bring the “human services field” to the board, Gravino, who got 23 percent of the vote, said on Tuesday night.  She is a psychologist and Monaghan is a nurse practitioner.

People in the district were looking for a “change of dynamic,” Gravino said, and fresh ideas.

Brusgul, a lawyer who got 21 percent of the vote, echoed that sentiment before the votes were in, saying that, while he campaigned, it was clear that people were looking for a change and more opportunity to participate.  This was Brusgul’s second unsuccessful run for the board.

Kroencke, who works in the New York State Education Department, got 22 percent of the vote.  Before the results were in, he said that the board had been going in the direction that the community wanted and he was proud that the board had been “wise fiscal stewards” and developed a strong administration.  The board recently hired a new superintendent and new principals at all three schools.

“I honestly have no idea what they were voting for,” Kroencke said yesterday of residents.  He’ll now have more time for his graduate classes at The College of Saint Rose, where he is studying educational psychology, he said.

“It’s too soon to say,” if he will run again or remain actively involved with the school, Kroencke said, concluding, “I’m still in shock.”

District residents also approved a $255,400 bus proposition for two 60-passenger buses and a 28-passenger bus with about 60 percent of voters in favor.

Similarly to the school budget and bus proposition, voters approved the $1 million library budget with about 60 percent in favor.

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