By Krystle S. Morey, Matthew Saari and Keith Harrington

Taxpayers across the region will head to the polls Tuesday, May 16 to vote on spending plans for their respective school districts. Locally, Granville, Whitehall and Hartford are among the districts looking to pass multi-million dollar budgets, elect school board officials and approve a number of other purchases for the 2017-18 school year.

Here’s a look at what you need to know before heading to the polls:

Granville
Residents will vote Tuesday on Granville’s proposed $26.7 million school budget for the coming year and decide who will fill three seats on the Board of Education.
The school board is proposing a $26,711,169 budget, which is 1.68 percent more than this year’s.
While the tax levy – $7,076,119 – is projected to stay flat, the budget proposes an appropriation of $160,000 from the district’s fund balance, compared with $290,000 used this school year.
This is the sixth consecutive year the district has stayed below the state’s tax levy cap.
Other budget highlights include:
– No loss of academic programs, sports or extra classroom activities;
– Funding for two new 65-passenger buses and one new full-size wheelchair accessible bus. The new busses, which will cost $381,931, will replace buses that are more than a decade old and require repair beyond their value;
– Salary and benefit costs for an elementary Academic Intervention Services math teacher and half-day Universal Pre-K teacher and teaching assistant;
– On-campus summer school program that will run from July 5 to Aug. 15 for students grades 7-12.
Granville is projected to see a sizeable increase in state aid, especially foundation aid, a total of $18,089,423 – up $577,181 from this year. The district also received Community Schools Aid for the second consecutive year. It plans to use the $86,044 to provide mental health counseling services to students.
The proposed budget was presented at a school board meeting and budget hearing Monday, with no public questions of comments offered. The hearing lasted only a matter of minutes.
Voters will cast their ballots May 16 in the Granville High School gymnasium. Polls are open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
School officials recommend voters enter the school parking lot off Church Street, between Bernardo’s and the football field. That lot offers direct access to the gym, through the side doors.
Five candidates are running for three seats on the Granville Board of Education. Seeking a three-year term on the board are Kim O’Leary-Cartmell, Susan Perry, Philip Berke, Suzanne McEachron and J. Murray McHugh. The seats are occupied now by Greg Bourn, Suzanne McEachron and Carrie O’Brien.
McEachron, currently serving as vice president of the board, is the only incumbent running again. She has served two terms, beginning in 2011. O’Brien and Bourn cited family obligations as reasons they would not run again.
See questionnaires from the candidates in this week’s paper. And check out a video from last week’s Meet the Candidates night online at Facebook.com/GranvilleNYSentinel.

Hartford

Hartford Central School unveiled the district’s 2017-2018 school spending plan at the annual public budget meeting held last Wednesday, calling for $12,232,000, an increase of $553,050, and voters will go to the polls on May 16 to decide whether to accept it, add a new school bus and a smaller vehicle, and elect a Board of Education member.
Voting will be held from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. in the school’s Ella Colvin Gymnasium.
The budget increase is 4.35 percent.
School districts receive revenue from property taxes, state aid, and miscellaneous funds. Miscellaneous funds consist of money from such things as grants and Medicaid reimbursement.
For the next school year the Hartford district will receive $7,573,144 in state aid and $488,000 in miscellaneous funds. When a fund balance of $663,272 is figured in, the district is left with a tax levy of $3,507,584.
In the annual budget newsletter, school superintendent Andrew Cook said: “Over the past few months, the Board of Education and district administration have been diligently working on drafting a proposed 2017-2018 school budget that meets the needs of our students, while meticulously scrutinizing expenditures to ensure that each dollar spent is done with purpose.”
The district has been able to reduce spending in the last year by converting light bulbs in the building from halogen to LED, renegotiating the leasing terms of copy machines, refinancing the serial BOND from the most recent building project and renegotiating the contract for supplying and delivering wood chips to the Alternative Energy Plant. These reductions and others measures that have been taken are believed to saving the district a minimum of $80,000 over the next year.
There will be a separate proposition to decide whether to purchase a new 66-passenger school bus and another 6 to 8 passenger vehicle for transporting students. The cost of a new bus can be upwards of $118,000. However only 10 percent of the cost, about $11,800, would be paid by the district. The purchase would be made through payments spread over five years.
The smaller vehicle would be used to transport students to various programs throughout Washington, Warren and Saratoga Counties. Again, the district would only be responsible for 10 percent of the vehicle purchase. The purchase would not have an impact on the tax levy.
Voters will also be asked to elect a Board of Education member to a two-year term. Longtime board member Phil Jessen is running unopposed. The term will begin July 17.
Anyone age 18 and over on election day and residing in the Hartford Central School for 30 days immediately prior to the election is eligible to vote. Voter registration or property ownership is not required to vote in this election.
Absentee ballots are available for eligible voters and can be obtained by contacting District Clerk Joann Searles at 518-632-5931 ext. 508.

Whitehall

Whitehall school district residents will vote Tuesday on the school budget and which five candidates will earn a seat on the Board of Education.
There are seven candidates, with incumbents Virginia Rivette, James Brooks and Christopher Dudley squaring off against newcomers Jason Hoagland, Richard LaChapelle, Michele Redmond and Roxanne Waters.
There are one 4-year term, two 3-year terms, one 2-year term and one 1-year term. The longest terms will be awarded to the candidates who garner the most votes.
Voters will decide whether to purchase two new school buses, one seating 65 and the other seating 41, the total cost of which is $220,000.
The next school year budget, which was presented to the public by business manager Jodi Birch on Monday, will also be approved or disapproved by voters. The budget sits at $15,956,820 and includes a 2.51 percent tax levy or $133,267. Birch said this represents a tax increase of $29 for a house assessed at $100,000.
Voting takes place on May 16 with polls opening at noon and closing at 9 p.m. at the Whitehall high school gymnasium.

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