All school budgets win approval

GHENT—Voters in all six school districts in Columbia County have approved annual budgets by comfortable margins. The handful of ballot propositions also were also endorsed.
All voters voted by absentee ballots this year because of the Covid-19 epidemic. There were concerns at the outset that this might lower voter participation but a school official in Hudson said that the total number of voters was higher this election and attributed the participation increase to universal absentee paper ballots making it easier for people to vote. Each ballot included a stamped return envelope for the ballot.

Incumbents were returned to school board seats in several districts but notably not in the Ichabod Crane Central school district, where Board of Education members Tammy Crawford and Susan Ramos were defeated in Tuesday’s election. Newcomers Elaine Berlin and Kelly Firmbach received the most votes, with Ms. Berlin, at 1,879 votes, filling an open seat on the board immediately. Ms. Firmbach (1,854 votes) and John Chandler (1646 votes) will start their terms on July 1. Mr. Chandler has served on the board before, starting in 2010, and was board vice president until he resigned in 2016.

Ms. Ramos received 1,166 and Ms. Crawford received 1,635 in the all-absentee-ballot voting that was supposed to end June 9 but was extended to June 16. Ms. Crawford was elected to the board in 2017 and Ms. Ramos has been on the board for nine years.

All the local budgets met the state tax levy cap, But Governor Cuomo has been given the authority by the legislature year to review and adjust state spending later in the fiscal year. The governor has said that if the state does not receive federal funds to offset losses caused by the Covid-19 lockdown, there could be 20% cuts in state aid to education.

2020 School election, budget vote results:


Proposed budget

Yes 1,205*

No 565

Prop. 2: Reduce board seats from 9 to 7

Yes 1,278*

No 453

Board seats (3)

Matthew Fisch 1,181*

Destiny Hallenbeck 1,310*

Patricia Wilson 1,223*


Proposed budget

Yes 779*

No 448

Board seats (2)

Ralph DelPozzo 670*

Lester Olsson 588

Allison Meek 619*

Ira Sher 439


Proposed budget

Yes 1,267*

No 748

Prop. 2: Create capital reserve

Yes 1,338*

No 676

Board seats (2)

Sage Carter 1,574*

Carrie Otty 1,623*

Ichabod Crane

Proposed budget

Yes 2,015*

No 1,246

Prop. 2: School bus purchase

Yes 1,862*

No 1.399

Board seats (3)

Elaine Berlin 1,879*

John Chandler 1,646*

Tammy Crawford 1,635

Kelly Firmbach 1,854*

Susan Ramos 1,166

New Lebanon

Proposed budget

Yes 286*

No 77

Taconic Hills

Proposed budget

Yes 1,589

No 660

Prop. 2: School bus purchase

Yes 1,439*

No 606

Board seat (1)

Heidi Beneke (Beneke Main)* N/A

Sheryl Boris-Schacter N/A

Lynn Brandt N/A

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