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Binghamton, Vestal residents will vote on school budgets Tuesday

Phoebe Taylor-Vuolo
Binghamton City School District offices on Hawley St. The main expenses outlined in Binghamton’s budget are a rise in health care costs and benefits for employees, as well as increasing special education costs.

New Yorkers will vote on their school districts’ proposed 2024-25 budgets on Tuesday. Several districts across Broome County also have school board member elections and propositions to vote on.

Voters can head to their school districts’ websites for information on polling sites and hours.

Binghamton City School District

The Binghamton City School District’s $150 million budget for the 2024-25 school year represents an increase of 5.33 percent compared to last school year. If adopted, it will include a 2.05 percent increase to the tax levy.

School district officials say the increase in the budget is largely due to changes in the way New York state calculates school aid funding. Officials from districts across the state were expecting a higher increase in foundation aid, a form of state financial support, more than what they received this year. New York Gov. Kathy Hochul did roll back some major cuts to foundation aid funding that were initially proposed during the state budget season.

The main expenses outlined in Binghamton’s $150,961,791 budget are a rise in health care costs and benefits for employees, as well as increasing special education costs.

This year’s budget includes $300,000 for new vans, which will be used for home visits to improve student attendance. It also includes a $100,000 project to add an exterior warning system to Binghamton High school, which officials say is an additional safety measure.

There are three school board member seats up for election. Steve Seepersaud and Paul White are seeking reelection to the board, while Salka Valerio, Shaunté Middleton, and Mary Ann Callahan are all new challengers hoping for a first term.

Voting hours are from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Residents can find out more about the candidates and how to vote at the Binghamton City School District's website.

Vestal Central School District

Vestal residents will vote on a $90,856,822 budget for the school district, an increase of $734,375, or 0.81 percent. The budget includes a tax levy of 1.77 percent, which district officials say is the second lowest in the region.

State aid for Vestal remained flat this year, according to district officials. Coupled with increased costs for equipment, utilities and labor, the district said that means Vestal had to cut its budget, resulting in a reduction of staff through layoffs and cuts to capital and administrative spending.

The school district will install additional surveillance cameras at Vestal High School as its small capital improvement project this year. The district will be reimbursed for more than half of the amount through state aid.

Also on the ballot is a proposition to authorize the Vestal Board of Education to purchase and replace school buses and vans. The district would receive $628,000, spread out over the next five fiscal years, to cover some of the cost.

Residents will also choose three new school board members. Incumbent school board member Eric LaClair is running for another term, while candidates Chadwin Smith, Amanda Atkinson and Sumeeta Chaudhri would all be new to the board. The positions are three-year terms and expire in June 2027.

Residents can find out more about the candidates and the budget at the Vestal Central School District's website. Voting is from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Vestal Central Junior Building.

Corrected: May 21, 2024 at 2:43 PM EDT
An earlier version of this article only named three candidates running for seats on the Vestal Central School District Board of Education, and failed to mention incumbent school board member Eric LaClair, who is also running in the race for a board seat.