DELMAR: School budget vote nears

In May 2006, more than 5,800 Bethlehem residents turned out to vote on the school budget. With 3,473 votes cast against it, the district's budget was defeated for the first time in 20 years.

On Tuesday, May 15, residents will again decide the fate of the budget.

The $77.16 million budget for the 2007-2008 school year includes money for two new middle school teachers; two new high school deans; two house leaders; three custodians; one technology specialist; one payroll clerk; and an additional $684,000 in special education staffing. The budget raises taxes 3.98 percent for residents of Bethlehem and 0.19 percent for those in New Scotland.

According to a calculator on the district Web site, a Bethlehem resident with a home valued at $200,000 and with a basic STAR exemption will pay $2,891.51 in school tax under the new budget.

I would hope the community feels this budget merits their support and gives them really more for their tax dollars, said Superintendent Les Loomis.

School officials said a townwide reassessment that left Bethlehem residents feeling financially pinched was the No. 1 reason the budget was defeated last year. After the initial defeat, district supporters rallied their forces and the second budget was easily approved in June.

Angie Randles, co-president of the Slingerlands PTA, said the group is taking nothing for granted this time around.

"We are making plans to get out the vote," Randles said.

Those plans include having students design posters, which will be distributed throughout town. Palm cards will also be handed out at different events prior to the vote, and lawn signs are likely to sprout up over the next several days.

"A lot of people told me last year they would have voted 'Yes' but did not come out to vote the first time around," said Randles. "I do feel that people will come out this year."

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