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Voters Pass $104.2 Million '12-'13 School Budget

The Harrison Central School District's proposed 2012-13 budget was good enough for voters and will be officially adopted by the Board of Education Wednesday night.

Harrison voters overwhelmingly approved the school district's 2012-13 budget Tuesday, with a whopping 72 percent supporting the proposed $104.2 million spending plan.

A group of supporters applauded the announcement as it was displayed on a projector at LMK Middle School Tuesday night. A total of 1,579 people voted in favor of the budget while 612 voted against it—the widest margin in decades. All four elementary school districts voted in favor of a budget for the first time in history.

"This is a historic night in Harrison," said Superintendent Louis Wool.

The showing of support comes during the first year of the New York state's tax levy cap. Harrison administrators cut millions of dollars in spending from the 2012-13 budget between November 2011 and late March before approving a preliminary budget beneath the cap. The budget also includes no program cuts.

Voters responded by showing historic support.

"I'm amazed," said Robert Salierno, Harrison assistant superintendent for business. "I was so concerned, we didn't really know what to expect with the 2 percent tax cap and how people were going to interpret that, but I think we put together a good budget."

As expected, incumbents Joan Tiburzi and Dennis DiLorenzo were both elected to new three-year terms on the Harrison Board of Education, winning uncontested races. Tiburzi thanked her supporters Tuesday night, saying she views the results as a vote of confidence from the community.

"I think it shows that the community has come together to support our school district and our children," she said. "We've not only managed the finances well, but we've been able to protect the programs for our students while maintaining a tight budget."

DiLorenzo also thanked the community for its support.

"On behalf of the Board of Education and the children we serve, I would like to thank the community for such an overwhelming show of support in the endorsement of the budget," he said. "We will continue to work hard ensuring that all the students in the district are challenged, given opportunities, and supported in a healthy and safe learning environment."

All three seats in last year's Board of Education election were contested. That race included rampant debate about state test scores, high school curriculum and other issues. This year the uncontested race for two seats flew relatively under the radar, leaving the primary focus on the budget.

"It provided us opportunities to focus on the budget at garner support to pass the budget and to help the community understand exactly what is going on," Tiburzi said.

This makes 12 consecutive proposed budgets that have received voter support in Harrison, the last failed budget being in 2000. The Board of Education will certify the election Wednesday night during a scheduled meeting at LMK Middle School. The approved budget means the tax rate for Harrison's voters will increase approximately 3.08 percent next year.

Wool said the Board of Education will begin working with school administrators on a budget plan for 2013-14 within the next few weeks, wasting no time tackling future obstacles.

This year's budget was helped along by a teacher retirement incentive and reductions in special education costs that likely won't be available next time around.

"I wouldn't want people to think that they have felt the full affect of the tax cap," Salierno said. "There are a lot of one-time budgetary benefits that we had that we won't have next year, so I think it's going to be a tougher road next year."

Harrison 2012-13 Budget BOE Vote
Yes No
Joan Tiburzi Dennis DiLorenzo Harrison Avenue School 548 224 533 408 Preston Elementary School 218 107 157 159 Purchase Elementary School 538 120 438 329 Parsons Elementary School 275 161 226 256 Total 1,579 612 1,354 1,152

*Results are unofficial

Donna May 17, 2012 at 02:37 AM
I just think it's so interesting that the tax that encompasses over 50 percent of your total tax bill doesn't get much attention, but if the Town, of which is probably less than 25 percent of your total tax bill, wants to spend money to fix something, or, God forbid, buy a new piece of equipment which benefits every single taxpayer, residents are lining up saying our taxes are too high. Can someone help me understand?
uj May 17, 2012 at 10:55 AM
THE ANSWER IS VERY OBVIOUS; THE CITIZENS ARE INTIMIDATED AT SCHOOL BOARD MEETINGS THAT IS TOO SAY THEY CAN NOT DISTINGUISH EACH BOARD AS IT IS. GOING TO A TOWN BOARD MEETING IS LIKE A THRILL , AT TIMES A COMEDY. THE SERIOUS SCHOOL BOARD MEETINGS IS SO CONTROLLED 99 % OF THE TIME , THAT PEOPLE ARE AFRAID TO SPEAK EVEN THOUGH THEY WANT TOO. ITS ALL ABOUT THE "TONE " AND SUPERVISION OF THESE MEETINGS. ANOTHER ANSWER IS THE CITIZENS WILL FEEL "OUTCASTED" WHEN THEY SPEAK AGAINST SOMETHING AT SCHOOL.(THEY STILL HAVE TO GO THERE EACH DAY WITH THEIR CHILDREN) WHEREAS WHEN THE TOWN BOARD ENDS , YOU HARDLY SEE THE PEOPLE TILL NEXT MEETING. SO THE POINT IS WHEN AND IF CITIZENS OF HARRISON GET A GROUP AS A WHOLE, AND BE UNITED THEY WILL DEFEAT THE 330 THOUSAND DOLLAR MR WOOL AND COMPANY;TILL THEN FORGETABOUTIT, AS THEY SAY.
Pearl May 17, 2012 at 04:39 PM
Is it me or was this election the best kept secret? Beside the mailer I received about two weeks ago, there was nothing else in town indicating that the election was coming up. I did see articles in the journal news and I know for a fact that material was sent home with the school kids and there were activities at the schools Tuesday evening in order to get the parents (the ones who usually vote in favor of budgets) into the school to vote. But after last year's mayoral election, where there were signs every six inches throughout the town, there were no noticable signs around. My elderly father drove to the school in the afternoon and said there were no signs indicating that it was a polling place. In fact, the poll person at the school I voted at said the sign was "removed". I agree with uj who says we need to get united to defeat the $330,000 Dr. Wool & Co.
Dr John May 19, 2012 at 11:38 AM
We have too many people like Harrison@Halstead making ignorant comments about things he/she knows nothing about. This was a secret election. We need to get the laws changed and hold the school board to task to get the information out that an election is occuring. These people ran unopposed because to cards are stacked against anyone who attempts to unseat any incumbent. The "Friends of Harrison Schools" decides who sits on the school board not the election. Whoever wants to run needs to campaign now for next years election. Get all of your information together. Many facts are puplic information such as salaries and contracts. If it is possible to get some incumbents out we can stop Lou Wool. Does anyone remember Dr Howard and how he lost his job due to a custodian who had a conviction? Why does Lou Woll still have his job after a teacher was dealing drugs and a custodian was a convicted drug dealer. That's right Dr Howard didn't have a public relations employee working for him.
Dr John June 04, 2012 at 03:52 PM
It seems that the idiots that are on the board have no fear of Dr John or anyone else so Harrison@Halstead your theory is invalid. You are best to keep your mouth shut and stop making a fool of yourself on every blog you participate in. You have nothing worth saying on anything so when you have something inteligent to say then participate.

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