Race shapes up for G’town school board seats

GERMANTOWN—2017 saw a scarcity of Board of Education candidates in the Germantown Central School District—two seats open, one candidate running. This year reflects the more usual level of interest: two seats are open, and three potential candidates have picked up the necessary designating petition from district clerk Linda Anderson.

Donald Coons, Board of Education vice president, has completed a four-year term and plans to run again. The four-year term of the late Jeremy Smith is concluding, having been filled by George Sharpe Sr. Mr. Sharpe will not run for another term.

Heather Schultz and Andrew Soltano picked up petitions, Ms. Anderson reported Monday. Each candidate, including Mr. Coons, needs at least 25 signatures; petitions are due Monday, April 16.

In an email Monday Mr. Sharpe praised district Superintendent Susan Brown, board President Tami Kellenbenz, and the board. But he wrote “Two nights per month at GCS plus one night each month on the Germantown Planning Board is taking a toll on me.” Mr. Sharpe said, “the GCS Clipper Ship is sailing in the right direction!”

District voters will also find on the ballot a Capital Reserve Fund Proposition, approved by the BOE at its March 28 meeting. It asks for voter approval of a capital reserve fund, “to be designated as the ‘Renovation, Reconstruction and Improvement of District Buildings and Facilities Reserve Fund.’”

This money, a maximum of $3 million for a maximum term of 10 years, would be “funded with surplus fund balances at the end of each fiscal year, funds transferred from other reserves and other available funds.” It would be used for “construction of additions, improvements, reconstruction and equipping of District buildings and facilities, including incidental improvements and expenses.”

“When you create a reserve, it needs a maximum amount,” Superintendent Brown explained Tuesday. “That’s the rule.” The district’s last capital reserve fund was $500,000, in 2015, when district voters approved the current capital project. “The vote was to use the $500,000 to reduce the amount of the capital project that will be funded by the taxpayers,” said Ms. Brown.

A new capital reserve, she said, would “be used for a future capital project,” not the current one.

The current capital project was sent to the State Education Department for the required review in June 2017. That review is still pending. This does not mean there’s a problem with the project; “it just depends on the projects in line ahead of ours,” Ms. Brown said. “They could be huge,” requiring a lot of review, “or small. Our business administrator checks with the state daily.”

At the February 28 Board of Education meeting The Palombo Group, the district’s construction managers, presented a “Pre-Construction Update.” An estimated bidding schedule put the project out to bid May 14 to June 15 of this year, winding up with a “kickoff meeting with contractors” on July 9, 2018.

Asked if she thought this schedule was realistic, Ms. Brown said, “That’s what we’re hoping for.”

The district’s 2018-19 budget will also be on the ballot for district voter approval Tuesday, May 15. The board looks to approve the budget at a meeting Wednesday, April 18 at 6:30 p.m. This is a schedule change. The board postponed its April 11 meeting by a week in order to attend a Questar III BOCES meeting.

District information, including draft budgets and the Palombo PowerPoint presentation, can be found on the district’s website, germantowncsd.org. In addition, the board-approved budget will be available at the school, 123 Main Street, and at public libraries in the district.

The annual budget hearing takes place Wednesday, May 2. Budget notices will be send to all district residents between May 2 and 9. Polls are open on May 15 from noon to 9 p.m., at the school.

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