After a long budget process stretching out over several months and an orderly campaign for two seats on the Huntington School Board, the votes have finally been tabulated.
Huntington School District residents overwhelmingly approved the proposed budget and a separate capital reserve fund proposition, re-elected Bill Dwyer and elected Michele Kustera as trustees during 15 hours of voting at Huntington High School on Tuesday.
The $133,488,443 spending plan for the 2019/20 school year passed, 1,064-259. A proposition seeking release of $3.846 million from the Building Improvement Fund for various renovation and repair projects also sailed through, 1,125-189.
School Board Race Results
In the race for two seats on the Huntington School Board, voters elected Michele Kustera (966 votes) and re-elected Bill Dwyer (804 votes). Challenger Joseph Mattio (570) trailed in the balloting.
The terms of the winning candidates commence on July 1 and run through June 30, 2022. Ballots were cast by 1,341 residents on Tuesday. There are about 23,000 registered voters in the district. (Absentee ballots totaled 41.)
“On behalf of the Board of Education and administration, please accept my sincerest thanks for supporting the Huntington School District’s 2019/20 budget and capital reserve proposition,” wrote Superintendent James W. Polansky in an open letter to district residents. “This support will allow us to maintain our commitment to addressing the needs of our students across the grade levels in a financially responsible manner. Further, your endorsement of the capital proposition will permit us to make needed improvements and upgrades at both Finley Middle School and Huntington High School.”
The budget approved by voters carries an estimated tax rate increase of 2.42 percent. Trustees will set the tax levy in the fall when final property assessment figures are available. Should the total assessed valuation rise above the projected amount, trustees would be in a position to lower the estimated tax rate increase.
School officials currently estimate the 2019/20 tax rate will be $245.16. Taxes would rise on the average assessed home in the district by $198.07 before STAR program savings are calculated.
“We will continue in our efforts toward achieving cost savings and efficiencies, while preserving the goal of providing students in all district schools with a high quality education that promotes an appreciation for learning and one that prepares them for their academic, professional and personal lives beyond Huntington,” Mr. Polansky said.
Tuesday’s vote culminated a budget process that saw the district seeking to keep a lid on expenditures. Spending will rise 2.83 percent, largely due to an increase in non-discretionary costs. The district anticipates receiving an increase of $340,551 in state aid. It plans to utilize $2.167 million in reserve fund monies to help hold down taxes.
“As always, I strongly encourage district residents to contact me at any time during the year with questions or concerns or simply to recognize a student or staff member accomplishment,” Mr. Polansky said. “I am exceptionally proud of our collective dedication to fostering an environment that contributes to the development of academically prepared and well-rounded young people, promotes parental involvement, and encourages collaboration among all members of the school district community.”