G’town school district requires voter registration

GERMANTOWN—Residents of the Germantown Central School District must now be registered to vote in the district, in order to vote on school budgets, Board of Education candidates and any other referenda.

At their November 18 meeting, the Board of Education unanimously passed a resolution to that effect. Residents must either be registered to vote in Columbia County, for general and primary elections, or, if not, they must register with the district.

This applies to all voters in the district, which includes not only Germantown but also all or parts of the Towns of Ancram, Clermont, Gallatin, Livingston and Taghkanic.

Previously, district voters had to be 18, U.S. citizens and living in a primary residence within the district for at least 30 days. Such voters presented themselves at the polls and unless challenged, were allowed to vote in district elections and referenda.

“It had always been that way in Germantown,” school Superintendent Susan Brown said Monday. “Our poll inspectors have lived in Germantown their entire lives and they know not only all the people in town, but also in the entire district.

“But as the board said, we need to come into modern times,” she said.

The same rules apply to second-home owners in the district; a voter’s district residence must be the primary residence. This can be hard to ascertain, said Ms. Brown, but a good test is whether the resident would be eligible for state STAR (School Tax Relief) assessment reduction at that address.

The first registration date was November 19. “We had a lot of community members in the school that day for report card conferences,” said Ms. Brown, and voters were registered. Most of those registered chose to fill out the standard county form, registering for all elections.

The board set four additional registration dates, in the school lobby at 123 Main Street: January 20, from 3 to 7 p.m., March 21 from 7:30 to 11:30 a.m., April 22 from noon to 4 p.m. and May 10 from 3 to 7 p.m.

Tuesday, May 17 is the date for the 2016 budget vote. Districts residents must be registered by that date; otherwise, they will not be able to vote. There will be a registration table at the poll that day, but registrations on that date will be for future votes.

The board appointed district clerk Linda Anderson, “a qualified voter of Germantown Central School District,” as a member of the new Board of Registration and directed her to seek additional members for that board.

In other business:

  • Ms. Brown discussed with board member Donald Coons school busses picking up and dropping off students at their homes on remote roads. Ms. Brown explained Monday that the roads in question, home to some 61 students in the district, are “very remote, have no outlet, or the only outlet is miles away, or in another school district.”

The students in question must travel between .1 and .7 of a mile to meet the bus. “We have some roads with no outlet, but with a town-maintained, bus-sized turnaround,” the superintendent said. “As long as that exists, and the district has deemed that road safe for the bus and for pick-up, the bus will pick up at individual homes”

  • The board heard a presentation from Mike O’Brien, senior class advisor, and class representatives on the senior class trip itinerary. The class plans to travel to Orlando, FL, from April 16 through 19 and to stay at the Universal Orlando Resort. The cost per student is $630, for which the students have raised funds and set up a Go Fund Me Account for students who may not be able to afford the trip.

The next regular school board meeting is Wednesday, December 9 at 6 p.m., half an hour earlier than the usual start time.


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