Have a seat

Four run for two New Paltz school board seats; in Highland, three candidates vie for three seats

by Mike Townshend and Megan Labrise
April 21, 2011 12:49 PM | 0 0 comments | 19 19 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Four candidates vying for two seats have entered the fray for May 17’s New Paltz Board of Education election, school district officials announced on Monday. And in Highland, three will run for three open seats on the board.

While maybe not as wide of a playing field as the Village of New Paltz’s crowded May 3 ballot, the New Paltz School Board election seems to hold to a similar model -- many new faces vying for a few seats of power. Only one incumbent, Patrick Rausch, is running for re-election this year.

Along with Rausch, who’s in his 13th year as a school board trustee, three other men are running: Michael Hekking, Stephen Bagley and Brian Cournoyer, all of New Paltz.

Board of Education member Steve Greenfield did not submit a petition package to the New Paltz Central School District’s office by the 5 p.m. deadline on Monday. Candidates had to submit a packet to the district office with 47 signatures.

“I ran three years ago with the intention of being productive for the children and taxpayers of this district, as well as our health and environment,” explained Greenfield. “I believe I have fulfilled that to the best of my ability within the framework of the system. In the course of putting in more thousands of hours of volunteer time than I could possibly count, I learned that the ratio between time invested and results achieved was made impossibly low by laws set in Albany over which we have no influence, let alone control. Chief among these is being bound to an unsustainable revenue stream that is so close to the end of its lifespan that the entire educational process and the physical infrastructure supporting it -- both in terms of instructional suitability and basic health and safety -- are in grave jeopardy.

“I believe that this year’s budget process has finally brought that fact home to the general public, whereas earlier it was only evident to ‘insiders’,” he added. “For the foreseeable future, I will be applying my time to working on that problem. Until we get education off the property tax, we’re just spinning our wheels -- downward. I will remain present in the local educational discourse and volunteer efforts and remain open to the possibility of returning to the school board if the public will allow -- if and when the basic funding problem has been addressed. I’m grateful to have been given the opportunity to serve and look forward to the hard work that lies ahead.”

Whoever wins the two seats next month will serve terms lasting until 2014.

Outside of deciding who should sit on the Board of Education, voters will also see two other ballot questions asking them to 1) approve or deny a $50.26 million school budget, and 2) whether or not the district should buy three buses for $210,000.

In Highland, three candidates have filed petitions to run for three open school board seats. In order of appearance on the ballot, they are: Kim Sweeney, Alan Barone and Maria Peterson. Petitions were due at the District Clerk’s office on Monday, April 18 by 5 p.m. Each candidate provided a petition containing the signatures of at least 29 eligible Highland School District voters.

The terms of board members Barone and Jim Kokoszynski end on June 30, 2011; the temporary appointment of board member Peterson ends on election night, Tuesday, May 17. Sweeney is a first-time candidate.

The individual elected to the one-year term will follow Peterson in completing the final third of a three-year term vacated by Mike Serini in 2010. The two candidates winning three-year terms will be sworn in at the board’s first regularly scheduled meeting in July.

The school board election and budget vote will take place on Tuesday, May 17.

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