Editor’s Note: Kathy Zahler is president of TST BOCES and Director of Communications for the Tompkins County Democratic Committee. She often writes about the nexus of education and politics on her blog, Dryden Daily KAZ.
For more on tomorrow’s Ithaca school board vote, see our coverage of a candidates’ forum held last week.
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None of our local districts plan to exceed the tax cap, which, as you will see, varies from district to district. The so-called “2% tax cap” is affected by a variety of exclusions, from pensions to PILOTs to growth factors, so that in our county, nobody’s is exactly 2 percent.
Here are the budgets folks will vote for or against on Tuesday, May 19, as indicated on the districts’ websites. Remember that the tax levy increase does not equal the increase in what you will pay as a taxpayer; your rate will depend on property assessment data, some of which is not yet available in most districts.
|School||Budget||# of Kids*||Budget Increase||Tax Levy Increase|
*Note that my enrollment data derive from state data for 2014 and may be off this year’s numbers by as many as 50 students one way or the other.
Voters will vote on propositions as well: For or against appropriations for buses in all six districts, for or against building/repair projects in Dryden, Groton, Newfield, and Trumansburg, and for or against support of the community library in Newfield and Trumansburg. On our old lever machines, the propositions are often at the top, as shown by the yellow arrow here.
Polls are open from 7 AM to 9 PM in Dryden and Lansing, and from noon to 9 PM everywhere else.
Votes by location
Of our county’s districts, only Lansing will elect two incumbents who are running unopposed. If you go to Lansing’s home page, click on “2015-2016 Budget” on the right, and then click on “Budget Bulletin,” you may learn more about those incumbents.
In Dryden, three incumbents plus one new candidate are running for three three-year terms and one one-year term. So there’s no contest, but at least there will be a new face on the board. As always, the recipient of the lowest number of votes will get that one-year position, which is a completion of a term for someone who left the board. The candidates’ biographies are easily found on the websiteunder “Budget Bulletin.”
Groton has one incumbent and three new faces running for two positions. Groton makes its candidates easy to find on its website and is kind enough to include long biographies of each one right up front for any interested voter to find.
Ithaca can usually be counted on to have a contested election, and this year is no exception. Two incumbents, one former board member, and five newcomers are running for three three-year positions and one two-year completion of an unexpired term. I find plenty of budget information on the website, and the candidates’ names are listed on the home page, but after digging around a bit, I still don’t find any specific information about the people on that list.
Newfield has two seats open, with one incumbent, one former board member, and one newcomer vying for those seats. They don’t make it easy, but information on the candidates may be found by clicking on “Budget Info” on the home page and then following various directions.
Trumansburg has a nice new website, but nowhere on it does it say who is running. I had to call the district office to find out what the story is there. It turns out that for two seats, only one petition was turned in, so Trumansburg may well have a write-in candidate for that second seat.
I like to remind people to bullet vote if they prefer one or two candidates or don’t know enough about most candidates to vote for a full slate. There is no rule that says you must select two or three or four. You can vote solely for your preferred candidate and give him or her a leg up when the votes are counted. This is especially useful in cases where a candidate with fewer votes will win a shorter term.
WHO CAN VOTE?
You may vote in school budget and board elections if you are 18 or older, a US citizen, and a resident of the district for at least 30 days. You don’t need to be a registered voter, but you may be asked for proof of residency and age.
Here’s a list of candidates (in the order in which they will appear on each ballot), along with a grade for each website to indicate how easy it is for voters to find information on those candidates. (To be fair, Tburg is transitioning to its new website, so things are a bit messy, but still….) Election Day is Tuesday, May 19.
|SCHOOL DISTRICT||CANDIDATES (*=incumbent; **=former member)||WEBSITE GRADE|
|Dryden||Paul Lutwak*, Lawrence Lyon*, William Harding*, Joan Stock||B+|
|Groton||Carmon Molino*, Diana Mackenzie, Jeffrey Lewis, Jason Harriott||A|
|Ithaca||Douglas Long, Jen Curley, Seth Peacock**, Moira Lang, Eldred Harris*, Sheryl Mauricio, Ann Reichlin, Sean Eversley Bradwell*||D|
|Lansing||Aziza Benson*, Julie Boles*||B-|
|Newfield||Linda Korbel**, William Scott Jackson, Missy Rynone*||C|
|Trumansburg||Douglas Ann Land*||F|