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School budget and candidate votes Tuesday

Submitted Photo Silver Creek Central School District administrators, Board of Education members, and transportation department employees recently hosted Leonard Bus at the district to learn about and ride an electric school bus.

Residents across New York state as well as Chautauqua County will decide on school budgets and board members during votes that take place Tuesday. All told, school budgets in the region total more than $569 million.

Besides spending plans and Board of Education members, there are other major topics voters in some districts will decide upon. Those projects include:

— Cassadaga Valley voters will decide upon a proposition to support a tax collected by the district for the Stockton Libraries (Stockton and Cassadaga) and the Sinclairville Library. The school district is only responsible for placing the proposition on the ballot and, if approved by voters, to collect the tax money and pass it along to the libraries. These funds are separate from the school tax levy funds. The first year of the tax, if approved, would raise $130,000.

— Dunkirk — Voters will decide on an $83.7 million capital project that is broken down in three propositions. The second includes an office addition at the junior/senior high school, resurfacing of the track and the football field, and auditorium, cafeteria and media center renovations.

The proposition also covers work on the junior/senior high school cafeteria, reconfiguring of parking areas at School 3, School 7 and the middle school, and a classroom addition at School 7. Proposition Two would cost $53.3 million.

Proposition Three would add lighting to the baseball and softball fields and tennis courts. All three would get resurfaced, the fields with synthetic turf. Erection of a toilet room building for the athletics area is also planned. Proposition Three would cost $5.3 million.

Proposition Four is to put in air conditioning at all district classrooms. That would cost $24.9 million. Propositions Two and Three would not bring a tax increase to district voters, but Proposition Four would lead to an estimated tax hike of 1.2%.

— Silver Creek — Prior to Tuesday’s vote, Silver Creek Central School District administrators, Board of Education members, and transportation department employees hosted Leonard Bus at the district to learn about and ride an electric school bus. The current mandate by New York State requires all districts to have a fully electric fleet by 2035, with no option to purchase diesel buses after 2027. “The endeavor to transition to electric school buses marks a significant step in our commitment to sustainability and safety. The decision to transition is not merely a choice, but also a necessity driven by New York State’s efforts to address climate change and prioritize the health and safety of our students and community,” said Dr. Katie Ralston, Silver Creek Superintendent.

Ralston added, “The electric school bus is significantly quieter, providing a much more peaceful and calming environment for the driver and passengers. In addition, the buses require less maintenance, which will result in significant cost savings in the long run.”

The district has proposed the purchase of a 66-passenger electric school bus as a second proposition of its budget vote on Tuesday. The purchase, including necessary equipment, would come at a maximum cost of $185,000 to the District after rebates and available purchasing incentives. The vehicle would be purchased through the Capital Reserve for Vehicles fund approved in 2015.

According to acting Business Administrator Brent Agett, the vehicle itself costs approximately $440,000, but the rebates and bonuses available to the District total more than $250,000.

“Silver Creek Central School District is currently eligible for various vouchers and payment assistance programs which allow us to purchase our first electric school bus without any significant impact to our budget. We are currently well equipped and excited to begin the slow and thoughtful transition of our bus fleet,” Ralston said.

Many of the school votes Tuesday are scheduled during the afternoon to 8 p.m. Residents in each district have been mailed information regarding budgets and prospective candidates as well as propositions.

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