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Hamburg, Eden School Board presidents out; 2013-14 budgets passed by district voters

Hamburg Central School District

Tuesday’s (May 21) annual school board election and budget vote for the 2013-14 academic year in the Hamburg Central School District proved to be significant for several reasons.

First, three newcomers were elected and the current school board president was not re-elected. Second, the budget, represented in an expenditure amount of $60,250,600 and containing a tax rate hike of 5.40 percent, was passed by voting district residents, albeit by a slim 56-percent approval.

Each item was accompanied by the fact that an unusually high number of voters turned out to pull the levers at the Hamburg High School gymnasium, as it was noted that turnout was at least 600 voters higher than recent years’ totals, a number that was reported to district officials at about 8 p.m. Tuesday. Overall, the budget, listed as Proposition 1 to voters, was approved by a total of 1,820-1,421.

Newcomer candidates Laura Heeter, David Yoviene and Catherine Forcucci captured the board seats by garnering vote totals of 1,905; 1,877; and 1,543; edging incumbent Board President Dr. Joan Calkins (1,471) as well as other candidates Sheila Ruhland (1,141), John Callahan (634) and Gary Klumpp (372). Heeter had previously run for a seat on the school board in 2012 and was the highest vote getter among the candidates. Yoviene let out several enthusiastic shouts of joy as the election results were read from the five voting machines. And Forcucci was all smiles after she learned her vote totals eclipsed Calkins’ by 72 to obtain a board spot.

“I’m surprised and humbled,” said Heeter in reference to obtaining the most votes among candidates, adding that she was holding her breath on the budget passing given the relatively close “Yes” to “No” votes. “As long we keep our focus on the students, we’ll be OK.”

It had previously been noted that Heeter has attended every board meeting and budget work session. Tuesday, she was happily accompanied by her husband and three children, all of whom attend school in the district.

Yoviene, the most vocal of the candidates, said he isn’t at all surprised by the winners’ vote totals, citing his and the other hopefuls’ extensive campaigning prior to the board election.

“We ran a good, clean race. We had a jump on the competition by two months,” Yoviene told The Sun. “We said our campaign is based on (board) harmony, seven people working together and no more dictatorships.”

Forcucci additionally noted that she expressed confidence entering the election and said the new voices on the board will bring a better working relationship with the district superintendent (Steven A. Achramovitch).

“From the feedback we got going door to door, I was very confident,” said Forcucci, 50, who has one child still attending school in the district. “It’s new faces and new ideas.”

The expenditure budget of $60,250,600 represents a 6.45 percent ($3,652,643) increase from 2012-13. The allowable tax levy limit is $33,519,094, with the aforementioned tax hike of 5.40 percent, which is the maximum hike as part of the calculated tax cap formula. The estimated tax rate per $1,000 of assessed property value is slated at $20.48, compared to the 2012-13 tax rate of $19.48. Tax bills for residents’ homes assessed at $100,000- not counting Basic STAR program exemptions for those eligible- are projected at $2,047, which is an annual increase of $99 from 2012-13. Houses assessed at $75,000 are slated to have tax bills of $1,535.25, compared to $1,461 in 2012-13; while homes assessed at $150,000 and $200,000, meanwhile, have tax bills of $3,070.50 and $4,094, with the yearly hikes of $148.50 and $198.

Achramovitch said district officials are obviously pleased with the budget passing, despite the closeness of the vote.

“It’s absolutely a relief,” the superintendent said, “With the problems we faced, having (difficult) expenditures, it’s a (relief). Every budget is a difficult one, but we presented the information in an open manner.”

Achramovitch added that change is to naturally be expected with the addition of three newcomers to the board, although district officials will maintain the same end goal.

“We’ll go through a process of transition and do what’s best for the kids,” said Achramovitch.

Current board members Matthew Dils and Diane Reynolds did not seek re-election and their terms will expire at the end of June.

Eden Central School District

The Eden Central School Board will have a pair of new faces after two incumbents were defeated Tuesday night.

Paul Shephard and Patricia Krouse were victorious and will each serve three-year terms beginning July 1. Shephard collected 740 votes, while Krouse garnered 718 votes.

They defeated current School Board President Steven Cerne, who received 422 votes, and Trustee Kristen Pinker, who collected 429 votes.

Also on Tuesday, the proposed $25.72 million budget for the 2013-14 school year was approved by voters by a margin of 738-437.

Voters also approved a proposition which will allow the district to use $32,000 from the district’s repair reserve fund for a new catalytic converter for the co-generation plant. That was overwhelmingly passed by a 933-221 vote.

Lake Shore Central School District

Voters in the district passed the 2013-14 proposed $53.28 million spending plan by a margin of 609-320 Tuesday.

There will also be two new school board members out of the three which were elected Tuesday in an uncontested race.

Newcomers William Connors, Jr., and Jennifer Farrell will join the board on July 1. Connors received 682 votes, while Farrell collected 680 votes. Incumbent Cynthia Latimore will return for another term. She garnered 675 votes.

Voters also passed a proposition which will allow the district to purchase three, 71-passenger school buses at a cost of about $340,000.

That was approved by a vote of 523-407.

North Collins Central School District

The board’s proposed $14.8 million budget for the 2013-14 school year was approved by voters by a count of 134-81.

The board will also have a new member, after Tammy Winter, who ran unopposed, won a five-year term after receiving 179 votes. She will replace Richard Foster on the board starting July 1.

And Proposition 2, for the purchase of school buses and similar vehicles for the transportation department, was passed by a 149-65 vote.

Frontier Central School District

As a result of a 2012 proposition that was passed to reduce the school board from nine to seven members beginning July 1, 2013, there were no seats up for election Tuesday, while the seats currently held by Jeremey Rosen and Nancy Wood will be abolished at the end of June.

Voters in the district did approve the 2013-14 budget by a margin of 975-558. Also, a proposition for the purchase of eight school buses at an estimated cost of $863,739 was approved by a count of 935-595. The results are unofficial.

(Editor Christopher Gordon contributed to this article).


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