Sparse audience hears 4 candidates for 3 ICC seats

KINDERHOOK–The Ichabod Crane School District Board of Education held a budget hearing and a Meet the Candidates night Tuesday, one week before the annual school election and budget vote May 17.

A handful of students, staff and residents attended. Elementary and Middle School Principal Tim Farley chaired the budget hearing, which drew no comments on the budget from the public. The board is presenting a $38-million budget and a $394,297 bus purchasing proposal on the ballot. Four people are running for three seats on the board. Incumbents Anthony Welcome and Michael Stead are running for seats along with Matthew Nelson and Jeffery Ouellette.

Schools Superintendent George Zini reviewed the proposed budget, saying it was a 1.55% increase from last year’s budget and that it was within the 0.67% tax levy increase allowed by the state. “That is the lowest tax levy increase in 20 years,” he said.

Mr. Farley also announced during the budget hearing that the district will be using new optical-scanner voting machines starting with next week’s election. Officials from county’s Board of Elections will be available to assist the voters if needed.

The board then closed the meeting and two students from the High School’s Participatory Government class asked the board candidates questions from their classmates. Seniors Maria Carlucci and Nolan Wolfe asked the candidates why they wanted to serve on the board and what they would do if chosen for one of three open seats.

Matthew Nelson talked about serving his community. He has a child in the Primary School and two younger children who will attend district schools. He talked about community involvement in board issues. “You have to engage the community,” he said of the role of board members. He also talked about listening to the concerns of residents. “I want people to want to come here and raise their kids here, like I did,” he said.

Jeffrey Ouellette served on the board for one term but chose not to run for reelection last year. “I’ve lived in this community my whole life,” he said in his opening statement. He also talked about engaging the community and having an open budget process. He said of the board, “It’s truly public service.”

Michael Stead, who was appointed to the board after a member resigned earlier this school year, said that he wanted to represent the younger students in the district on the board. He has three children currently in the Primary School. He also talked about being a classroom teacher in the Chatham Central School District, saying that on the board he “speaks to a lot of the issues I see every day in the classroom.”

Anthony Welcome said in his opening statement that he had been involved with the school district for 47 years, first as a teacher, then principal and now a board member for nine years. Mr. Welcome is the current school board president. “I jokingly say I bleed Ichabod Crane blue,” he said. He stressed that the board members are policy makers for the district, and that the board’s most important job to “present a budget the community will pass.”

After about 30 minutes of answering questions, Maria and Nolan thanked the candidates. “We hope this evening helps you make an informed decision when you vote next Tuesday,” Maria said to the small audience.

The annual vote will be held on Tuesday, May 17 from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. in the High School gymnasium on Route 9. To vote, you must be a US citizen, 18 years of age, and a resident of the school district at least 30 days prior to the vote.

The highest vote-getters will receive seats on the board for three-year terms.

To contact reporter Emilia Teasdale email .

 

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