Frontier School Board headed toward size reduction
A glitch in machine operation at one of the district’s polling sites, a similar problem encountered in a pair of other Southtown school districts during voting time, caused a few of the votes to be stated as being skewed in a proposition item. However, judging by the approximate 2-to-1 “yes” ratio distinction in overall proposition item approval, Frontier district voters seemed to have made up their minds in a decided fashion no matter what kind of re-view could be made regarding machine malfunctions.
All but one of the passed propositions, with the exception being the downsizing of the board from nine to seven members, an item that would take effect in July 2013, seemed to satisfy the majority of district officials. Several administrators spoke against the reduction proposition during and following the meeting, citing the aspect of board members serving the district in a non-paid, volunteer status, while questioning the motives of individuals who were stated as pushing forward sentiment to the community that downsizing is a favorable direction for Frontier to head.
The 2012-13 expenditure budget, listed as Proposition No. 1, passed (unofficially) by a margin of 1,325-526, as 38.6 percent of the 4,790 registered district voters pulled the lever at polling locations regarding the item. The budget contains a tax rate increase of 2.19 percent for residents, to go along with a tax levy hike of 2.70 percent. The slated tax rate per $1,000 of assessed property value for district residents in Hamburg is $24.47, representing an increase of 52 cents from the 2011-12 rate, while district residents in Eden will see a similar hike boost their tax rate to $21.64. Overall, the expenditure budget has roughly a 3-percent decrease in spending from 2011-12, with general fund monies accounting for $35,742,619.
Proposition No. 2, which was the purchase of eight school buses as well as grounds and maintenance equipment, was approved by voters, 1,037-500. Just over 32 percent of registered voters acted toward the proposition item.
The most controversial proposition item (No. 3), reducing the number of seats on the Frontier board from nine to seven, was listed as being the closest of approved margins at 1,153 “yes” to 632 “no,” with 37.3 percent of residents voting toward the matter. Following several recent meetings in which the issue was discussed in an overall critical manner, a pair of board members on Tuesday described the stated effort to promote such downsizing as underhanded and non-direct in style. Board Member Janet Plarr said she was “confounded” by such tactics of a few unnamed district officials, including what she stated as their “hiding behind unsigned flyers” that were distributed at local businesses and which included innacurate and difficult-to-understand jargon that glorified downsizing. She added that included material seemed to suggest that the current administration discourages outsiders from running in the school board election.
“This is America, folks,” Plarr said in regards to what she said is the district’s open approach to community members participating in Frontier school board elections. “No one is stopping anyone from running on the board.”
Board Vice President Stanley Figiel, who along with board President Michael Comerford did not seek re-election to the board for another five-year term, described actions by anonymous Frontier officials in regards to pushing the downsizing concept as “gutless,” adding that he’s not sure why distribution of such sentiment was conducted in such a clandestine manner.
Board members Nancy Wood and Jeremey Rosen would be most immediately affected by the downsizing directive, as each is up for re-election for their board seats in May 2013. Just seven members at that point would be slated to account for the large district’s school board functions.
“I’m extremely disappointed that the public voted to downsize a volunteer (school) board,” Comerford told The Sun, despite adding that he’s pleased with the other three proposition items being passed. “Who’s going to do the (vacated board members’) work?”
Proposition No. 4, the appointment of a high school student to serve on the school board as an ex-officio, non-voting member, was approved by a decisive 1,168-406 margin, with just over 22 percent of registered voters pulling the lever on the item. The measure comes following several months of petitioning to the board regarding the matter, particularly by Frontier High School senior and student government President Davis Podkulski.
In the unopposed race for the board seats that will be vacated by Figiel and Comerford, candidates Thomas M. Best Jr. and Patrick T. Boyle received 1,312 and 1,329 votes, respectively. The final meeting for both Figiel and Comerford is slated for Tuesday, June 19. Polling sites for the district were listed at the elementary schools of Pinehurst, Cloverbank and Blasdell, to go along with Frontier High School and Woodlawn Fire Hall.