A proposition in the Westport Central School District to install a generator and make improvements to the school library passed, 171-157, during voting May 15.
On May 15, Westport voters will decide on a 2.85 percent tax levy increase to the 2012-13 school budget, an EXCELL Project and vote for a school board candidate.
Current school board member Dwayne Stevens is running uncontested to serve another five-year term on the school board. Stevens said he is working on the school board to ensure the kids have an advocate in their education.
Stevens said he is proud of the Westport Central School and even though WCSD is a small school, he has seen his children receive every opportunity.
“My proudest moment on this board was being able to hand my son his diploma at graduation,” Stevens said. “Our school has an 85 percent rate of students going on to graduate college, not many districts can say that.”
Stevens is a corrections officer at Moriah Shock and will retire in three years, he said he can promise the community three years, though he said he has never been a quitter.
“I’ve never been a quitter so I can’t say I’ll leave early, but I can promise three years,” Stevens said. “I’ve always been here to give the kids a voice and to be an advocate here and I hope to continue to serve on the board.”
Voters will also vote on the EXCELL project. The project will include tearing out the sunroom in the library and building a newer sunroom with a solid roof to enclose the library. The project also includes the purchase of a new 150-kilowatt generator for the building. The total project cost is estimated to be $450,000.
Superintendent John Gallagher said the generator will benefit the students in case of a power outage, allowing the students to remain in school instead of sitting in school busses waiting for all parents to be contacted so students can go home. It will also maintain the temperature of the building, ensuring food would not go to waste and secure computer data wouldn’t be lost in an outage.
“The generator is not only going to let us serve as an emergency shelter for the community, it’s primarily going to serve our students,” Gallagher said. “Our primary purpose is to protect students, ensure their safety and protect the integrity of the building.”
Gallagher said by using $81,600 in bonds, $76,000 from the fund balance, and a $157,000 EXCELL grant, the improvement project will have little to no impact on taxpayers.
Stevens said the school could give the community a place to go in the case of another natural disaster.
“Weather patterns are unpredictable, our neighbors in New Hampshire just had a tornado, thats not normal weather there and Irene was not a normal event for us,” Stevens said. “We need something, this is for our students and our community.”
The budget to be put before voters includes a 2.85 percent tax levy increase. The total budget will be $$5,408,000, an increase of $74,303 over the 2011-2012 spending plan. According to District Treasurer Cynthia Moody, the levy will average a $45 annual increase for property owners with a home assessed at $150,000.
The district was able keep the tax levy increase to a minimum by reducing BOCES spending by $25,721, eliminating a full teaching position and by using $224,866 of the district’s fund balance.
Voting will take place on May 15, at the Westport Central School from noon to 9 p.m.