Tuesday, May 20 is election day for school districts across New York State. Today, voters go to the polls to decide the fate of school budgets, elect candidates for local school boards and vote on school propositions.
Statewide, increases in school taxes are slowing, according to a report from the NYS Association of School Business Officials (NYSASBO). Schools are under pressure to keep tax increases low because of a statewide tax cap passed in 2011, which restricts the growth of the annual tax levy unless voters pass an override at the polls. The average school tax levy increase in the state this year is 1.8 percent -- the lowest increase in six years, according to NYSASBO.
Here are a few of the most interesting school races around the region this year:
-In the Catskill Central School District, five candidates are seeking three seats on the school board. At a recent "Meet the Candidates" night, students from the high school filmed a discussion among the candidates and posted it on the district's website for voters to watch.
-The Onteora Central School District has only two candidates on the ballot and three open seats. Two people have stepped forward to run as write-ins: Tanya Davis, a Boiceville resident and mother of three Onteora children, and Rick Wolff, a former Onteora school board member with four sons, two still in the district. Onteora voters will also get a chance to vote on a proposition concerning whether to use $7 million in district funds to renovate school buildings.
-The Schoharie Central School District has a contested race: Three candidates are vying for two seats on the school board. Voters will also decide the fate of two propositions: one on whether to buy four school buses, and one on a proposed $1.08 million renovation project.
-At the Saugerties Central School District, six candidates are vying for four open seats on the school board. The Saugerties Times ran a two-part series with detailed interviews of five of the candidates (one could not be reached, the paper reported).
-Three incumbents on the board of the Monticello Central School District are facing challengers this year. Also on the ballot: Propositions on buying school buses and installing video surveillance in school buildings.