Area budgets and capital projects win approval

Posted 5/24/22

It was a banner day at the polls for the Wallkill School District in last week’s voting as the $81.71 million budget and a $43.8 million capital project were overwhelmingly approved by district …

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Area budgets and capital projects win approval


It was a banner day at the polls for the Wallkill School District in last week’s voting as the $81.71 million budget and a $43.8 million capital project were overwhelmingly approved by district voters.

The budget for 2022-23 was passed by a 658-214 margin. It represented a 2.99 percent increase of $2.37 million.

The $43.8 million capital project also was approved by 660-206. The capital project uses $10.56 million from a reserve fund with the $33.24 million balance raised through an increase in the property tax levy.

Wallkill Superintendent Kevin Castle reflected on the results the following day in an interview with the Southern Ulster Times at his district office.

“We really appreciate the support of the community,” Castle said. “We’re looking forward to keeping everything in place that we currently have working and looking forward to making improvements in the future.”

Castle said with the approval of the budget the district will be able to add American Sign Language as a second language. One full-time position will be added to teach sign language.

“Right now, we only offer Spanish as a foreign language,” he said.

A full-time groundskeeper will also be added to help with outside maintenance for the district’s six buildings. Currently there are only two employees to maintain the grounds at the high school, middle school, three elementary schools and the district office.

Due to declining enrollment, the district plans to eliminate one high school math position through attrition and create one full-time elementary math position. This will give the district three full-time math teachers at the elementary level, with one assigned to each school building.

The capital project will allow the district to make major safety, security and infrastructure improvements to its schools.

Secure vestibules will be added to the main entrances of all five schools to prevent direct entry by visitors. These reconfigurations will provide a greater ability to screen and monitor visitors, a measure that will have benefits on a day-to-day basis, not only in an instance of an intruder.

New door security locking hardware will be installed at the district’s schools that will allow teachers to quickly lock their rooms down in case of an emergency.
Other improvements include reconstructing roofs at all schools.

Castle said much-needed design changes will be made to the high school parking lot. The new design will include a separate bus loop and a clear, designated drop-off for students. Additional access roads will reduce congestion.

The bus loop will provide overflow parking for special events and a staff lot will be added near the tennis courts, resulting in a net gain of about 70 spots.

The high school will see major renovations including installation of new heating and ventilation systems in the cafeteria and gymnasium, and air-conditioning will be added to the areas where large numbers of people gather for school and community events.

Antiquated bathrooms near the main entrance will be gutted and updated, the damaged gymnasium floor will be replaced and locker rooms and team rooms will be gutted and reconstructed.

In the school board election, incumbents Dustin Palen (567) and Joseph LoCicero (537) were re-elected to three-year terms. Newcomer Ursula Petricek (520) outdistanced Kathryn Bayer (364) and Clarence “Butch” VanLeuvan (302).

Castle, who has worked in the Wallkill School District for over two decades, feels it’s important to have continuity on the school board.

“We have a very consistent board,” he said. “With that consistency, we’re able to plan things out. Your eye is always on the end goal.”

The Marlboro budget of $61,498,000 passed by a vote of 561 to 226
The two open school board seats were won by Frank Milazzo with 478 votes and JoAnn Reed with 446 votes. The other three candidates were Karen Brooks with 289 votes; Jeffrey Hacker with 121 votes and Rebecca Rhodes-Boykin with 65 votes.

Superintendent Michael Brooks said ultimately the kids are the winners with the passage of next year’s budget.

“We’re looking at academics, we’re looking at social emotional well-being and we’re also taking care of our physical assets,” he said. “We reduced the tax burden by 6%, so 71% of our people said thank you very much, you’re doing a good job.”

Brooks is looking forward to ending this year on a high note, pointing out that graduation is less than five weeks away.

The Highland budget of $48,998,581 passed by a vote of 693 to 249.

A bus proposition for $322,000 also passed by a vote of 669 to 272. This is for (1) 65 passenger bus; (1) 30 passenger bus; (1) wheel chair accessible vehicle and (1) four-wheel drive vehicle.

The two winning school board candidates were Tom Miller with 619 votes and Jeanine Gemmell with 431 votes. The other candidates were Sue Gilmore with 394 votes and Simone Stewart with 210 votes.

Superintendent Joel Freer thanked the community, “for coming out to show their strong support of our schools. We have worked hard to stay fiscally responsible while remaining true to our mission to keep our students as our priority.”


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