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7 to compete for 3 seats on Galway school board

Election, budget vote set May 21

Sunday, May 5, 2013
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— Last year at this time, just one person submitted petitions to get on the ballot and run for one of three seats on the Galway Central School District Board of Education.

This year, seven people will run for three available positions.

Two are current board members and at least one is a former board member who wants to return.

It’s unusual to get that many people running for seats, said Jay Anderson, who was on the board from 1989 until 2004 and is interested in taking a seat there again. He doesn’t recall there being so much interest when he was on the board previously.

Candidate Laura Sakala, who was appointed to the board earlier this year to fill a vacancy and now is running for a post, said no matter who wins, she’s glad so many people are interested.

“It’s nice to see that many people stepping forward, actually.”

Sakala says she sees a lot of good things shaping up in the district that she wants to be involved with, including working with the district’s new administrative team to “move forward and see our school thrive.”

“I don’t know if a lot of people are running because they see good things happening ... it’s hard to know,” she said.

Sakala pointed out that last year the district was talking about making deep budget cuts, and only one person ran for the board at the end of that budget cycle.

“There were a lot of people upset in the community.”

This year, the budget process seemed more positive, she said, and more people want to be involved in the school board.

Besides Anderson and Sakala, the other candidates are Stacey Morey, Melodye Eldeen, Jerri Ernst, Harold “Eric” Fajans and Cheryl Smith. Smith is currently the board president.

Anderson, who lives in the town of Charlton, said people in the community have asked him to run.

“I took my break, and I know all these school systems are having a little bit of trouble because of state aid,” Anderson said. School districts have had to lean more heavily on local property tax revenue since state funding has failed to keep pace with the cost of doing business, especially in recent years.

Those difficulties resulted last year in the district proposing to make deep budget cuts, including eliminating some advanced placement science classes and junior varsity sports. Those programs survived.

Keeping the higher-level classes is a must to prepare students for college and the workforce, said Anderson, 67, a Navy-trained engineering manager for Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory.

“I hope we can always give them enough classes,” he said.

After raising his children in Galway schools, Anderson’s grandchildren now attend school there.

“I’ve got a vested interest in that school,” he said.

Sakala, 47, grew up in the Galway district, moved away for a time and then came back about 10 years ago and lives in the town of Providence.

“Just knowing the community, I feel like I can contribute something positive.”

She volunteers for Meals on Wheels and on committees with the Galway Public Library, where she previously served on the library board, and she works as a volunteer on Saratoga PLAN’s stewardship committee.

The other candidates could not be reached for comment Thursday.

Tuesday gathering

The public can meet them from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Tuesday at the high school auditorium for a “Meet the Candidates Night.”

They will appear on the ballot on May 21. Polls are open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. in the auditorium lobby of the Galway Central School District.

Two of the vacancies are four-year terms and the other is a three-year term.

The top two vote-getters will win the four-year terms and the next highest one will take the three-year term.

Also at the polls that day, voters will vote on a proposed $17.9 million budget that would raise the tax levy 5.36 percent.

The 2013-14 spending plan falls under the district’s 5.4 percent tax levy increase cap, so it needs a simple majority of voters’ approval to pass.

The current year’s budget is $17.3 million, so the proposed one represents a 3.4 percent increase.

 
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