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Bethlehem votes 'yes' down the line

After the hustle and bustle of a day-long school vote, it all came down to a quiet gymnasium floor filled with about 30 school and library officials as final tallies were read off of one machine at a time.

In the end, Bethlehem voters said yes, "yes," "yes."

Both the Bethlehem School District and the Bethlehem Public Library budgets were safely passed, as well as a $1.35 million bus proposition for the school to buy 18 new buses. Three board of education members and two library trustees were also elected, although the races were not contested.

Residents passed the nearly $84.8 million school district budget with 58.26 percent of the vote, netting a total of 2237 votes in favor. There were 1603 votes (41.71 percent) in total cast against the 2008-09 budget, which constitutes a $6.03 million spending increase over last year's budget of $78.7 million.

Incumbent James Dering, the current board of education's vice president, received the highest number of votes at 2,818, and board newcomers Matt Downey and Laura Ladd Bierman received final tallies of 2,775 and 2,747 votes, respectively. Downey and Bierman will replace outgoing board members Robin Storey and Warren Stoker, each a member since 1999, who decided not to seek re-election this year.

The Bethlehem board of education carries a term of three years and the new board members will take their seats in July.

The results, announced after the polls at closed at 9 p.m. at Bethlehem Central High School, also showed that the bus proposition was carried by a vote of 2,143 to 1,667, or 56.25 percent to 43.75 percent.

The board adopted the proposed budget back on March 18, far sooner than most of the area schools adopted their budgets and before the state passed its budget nine days late. Board President James Lytle said the district's citizen budget committee gets much of the credit for the budges early adoption and thanked voters for passing the budget put forth to them.

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