The $50.26 million budget passed by a large margin -- 1,094 in favor and 641 opposed. A separate initiative for the school district to buy two new school buses to the tune of $210,000 passed by a margin of 903 to 760.
The top two vote getters were veteran BOE member Patrick Rausch, who received 809 votes, followed by newcomer Stephen Bagley, who secured 799. Close behind Bagley was Brian Cournoyer, who garnered 756 votes and Michael Hekking received 550 votes.
As for the budget passing by a solid margin, BOE president Don Kerr said that he was “so grateful to this community, who, in such difficult times, continue to make our children their priority.”
In terms of the buses, Kerr explained that the district, fearing a large bill, had put off their schedule of replacing two buses per year during last year’s budget proposal, but did not want to fall that far behind with an aging fleet.
“I’m glad that the voters saw the importance of the district’s need to follow through on our maintenance and replacement plan,” he said. “Our fleet is a little older than we’d like, but now we can move forward and purchase two new buses which are needed.”
Rausch, who has served as a BOE member for 13 years, said that he was “honored” by the amount of votes he received and that he “appreciated the citizens of New Paltz having faith in me. I hope that I can do everything that I can to make them proud of their vote as we enter very difficult and painful economic times. Hopefully, the economy will take off soon, but if not, we have some serious, often painful work to do as a board.”
Bagley, who walked in with his wife and children after the votes were announced, said that he wanted to thank his wife and children for their support during the campaign and added that he was very happy and gratified that the voters showed their confidence in him.
Although new to the BOE, Bagley has volunteered for the district’s finance and audit sub-committee for years and is a father of children in the school district, as well as a certified public accountant.
Asked to name one top priority he would want to focus on as he joins the BOE, he said, “Academic standards. I’m very passionate about academic standards on a district-wide basis.”
Rausch and Kerr welcomed Bagley with open arms. “He (Bagley) has worked behind the scenes as part of the district’s audit and finance sub-committee, so I know he is knowledgeable and passionate about how our district runs fiscally, but also how we educate our children,” said Kerr.
Kerr and Rausch also commended the other two candidates for “stepping up” and getting involved and wanting to provide their expertise and commitment and volunteerism to the BOE.
“I feel great about all of the candidates,” said Kerr. “Whether they received 1,000 votes or one vote, it takes a sense of civic duty, courage and character to put yourself out there and it’s democracy and citizen participation at its best. I thank them all.”
Rausch concurred. “I also appreciate Brian and Michael stepping forward, working to make a positive change and make our school district the best it can be. We need people like this, always, to help ensure that our school district and our children are guided by people that care and are willing to step forward.”