BY Molly Congdon
CLIFTON PARK — Voters approved Shenendehowa’s proposed 2015-2016 budget Tuesday and elected two school board members.
The budget — a $162.9 million plan that called for a spending increase of 1.72 percent — passed handily, 2,430 to 981. “It’s an awesome win,” Superintendent Oliver Robinson said. “It’s the community’s chance to strongly support what we are doing as a school district and that says it all.”
The proposition calling for purchase of 21 school buses also passed easily, 2,477-888, keeping transportation up to date and helping keep students safe and on time.
Christina Rajotte was elected and Robert Pressly and was re-elected to the school board.
Four candidates threw their names into the mix, bolted from the starting line, sprinted several laps full of interviews, lobbying for approval of the masses, getting their faces in people’s heads and competing against each other for the two available seats on the school board (the expiring terms of Pressly and Janet Gray).
But unlike runners on the track, for the final lap all the four candidates could do was sit back and watch the democratic process play out. Each ballot cast in their favor pushed them one step closer to the finish.
Pressly’s and Rajotte’s faces were full of elation, pride and relief.
Pressly accumulated the most votes, 1,811, followed by Rajotte with 1,636, Samuel Hazleton with 1,420 and Kerensa Rybak with 1,378.
“It’s relief now that we can all move forward to continue to keep our district in the right direction,” Rajotte said. “I’m looking forward to working with different parent groups, students, community leaders and teachers and staff.”
“This is a humbling experience because every candidate is beholden to the collective opinion of the voters; I went into tonight’s meeting having no idea as to what the results would be,” Pressly said. “Unlike larger elections, that have internal polling, party supports etc, BOE candidates have to campaign from ‘gut instinct’ as to what will connect with voters and get them to the polls.”
They are eager to get started in their roles.
“The first thing is to get to know my fellow board members,” Rajotte said. “I know a lot of them, but I’d like the opportunity to get to know them more and discuss the challenges we’re facing.”
Pressly said he’d “continue thanking everyone that helped out, followed by reflection on how this campaign changed the types and priorities of issues in front of us.”
Both Pressly and Rajotte felt that they had certain qualities that set them apart.
“Honestly, my experience,” Rajotte said. “I’ve been actively involved in the district over the last ten years; I’m a trusted individual and people know my integrity.”
Pressly stated: “Presenting myself as a community candidate with a message consistent with my beliefs.”
“It’s great to see Mr. Pressly returning back to the board as the vice president; he’s done a great job and we have banked on being very consistent so having that within the board is important,” Robinson said. “Mrs. Rajotte is going to be a tremendous addition to it because she has been so invested in the school with her involvement with the PTA over the years; she’s not someone who’s just running on one issue, she’s someone who can add value to the school district as a whole. A great night for us all around.”
There are a lot of positive changes in the future, he added. “It’s an exciting time; now the real work begins.”