DELMAR: Voters OK EXCEL funding

Bethlehem Central School District's Tuesday, Oct. 30, EXCEL vote passed by a wide margin.

The final vote was 1,710-to-479.

The money will allow the district to spend $4.9 million for improvements, which include an eight-classroom addition at Eagle Elementary and several safety measures, such as the installation of security cameras at the high school.

We're very pleased the community supported the vote, said Bethlehem school board president James Lytle. "It will give us the capacity to provide the kind of kindergarten program we'd like to offer." Bethlehem recently approved full-day kindergarten.

Turnout was much less than turnout for a regular school board election, which occurs in May. The EXCEL funding has very little taxpayer impact and is designated to provide additional funding for school construction projects.

"We appreciate the fact district voters came out to vote in what we feel is in the best interest of the school," Lytle said.

A change from half-day to full-day kindergarten will be made in Bethlehem in the next year. The voter-approved EXCEL vote allows a smooth transition because of the extra space it creates with the additional Eagle classrooms.

"Now they can be certain the new classroom wing will be complete in 2009," said Superintendent Les Loomis.

Officials indicated in writing to the community that if the EXCEL vote were to be defeated, full-day kindergarten would have to be reconsidered. Another concern was that the cost of an eight-classroom addition at Eagle would have to be covered by taxpayers if the vote went down.

"I want to thank the community for once again standing behind the students of the district," said Loomis.

The actual cost to district taxpayers is expected to be no more than 34 cents a year for the owner of a $200,000 home.

"People understood it was several steps forward for the district without a local tax burden," said Loomis.

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