Voters deny Mohon upgrades

School officials disappointed by the large number of votes against proposal

Mohonasen school officials were sent a strong message when district taxpayers voted down the proposed $43.4 million capital project by a 2-to-1 margin, despite efforts to convey the need for improvements districtwide.

The vote on Tuesday, Dec. 13, derailed plans to make improvements to all of the district's four schools and construct a new bus garage to replace the current one that school officials consider a safety hazard. There were 1,058 votes against the project and 531 votes supporting the project. Other proposed improvements would have created more space for instruction and updated technology in the classrooms.

The [Board of Education] needs to talk about what their next steps are, said Adrienne Leon, spokeswoman for the district. "We don't know what is going to happen at the building level with state aid to schools. I think the board and administration want to wait and see what happens."

Rotterdam residents recently saw their town taxes increase by 3.5 percent during a turbulent Town Board budget vote, and given the poor economy, school officials knew they had a tough vote on their hands.

"We knew this would be a difficult vote, given the economic climate," said Kathleen Spring, superintendent for the district. "While we are disappointed by the outcome, we believe it is important to give voters an opportunity to consider this proposal and have a say on it."

Dom Cafarelli, president for the Board of Education, echoed Spring's disappointment.

"I think all the members of the board plus the administration were holding our breath to see how things were going to pan out that day," said Cafarelli. "It might have been a bad time of the year for the vote, although we were under pressure to kind of have a vote by the end of the year because of the state aid."

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