Three elected to Saranac Lake school board
Voters approve $34.6 million budget
SARANAC LAKE — Incumbents Zachary Randolph and Mark Farmer have won reelection to the Saranac Lake Central School District board of education, and Tori Thurston has earned a seat on the board. In a vote on Tuesday, district residents also approved the school’s $34.6 million budget.
Randolph got the most votes — 398 — to take the seat with the longest term. His term started immediately and expires on June 30, 2025.
Farmer came in second, with 375 votes, to take the other three-year term, which starts July 1 and expires on June 30, 2025.
Thurston placed third with 234 votes and earned a one-year seat on the board. The term started immediately and expires on June 30, 2023.
Paul Herrmann did not earn enough votes to win a seat, garnering just five fewer votes than Thurston.
Mike Martin, a local contractor and Boy Scout troop leader, waged a last-minute write-in campaign on social media, which brought in 140 votes. There were a significant number of write-in ballots creating a thick stack at the end of the vote count.
Farmer won his second term on the board, earning many more votes than he got to earn his first term. In 2019, 18 people wrote Farmer’s name in on their ballots in an election when no one else was running and he agreed to accept the position. He still doesn’t know who those 18 people were.
Randolph won his first full term on the board on Tuesday. He had previously said he felt is was a great honor to be on the board. He likes to play the role of a “curious interrupter,” asking plenty of questions and making sure the public has context for the board’s decisions.
Thurston said she was running to question the status quo and advocate for students, especially those in special education. Her daughter has dyslexia and she said she’s had to fight with the district to advocate for her daughter a lot of the way.
The budget passed with approximately 82% of the vote.
The budget meets the 2.44% state tax levy cap exactly and includes a 2.67%, or $900,000, spending increase.
The district will levy $23,264,920 in taxes from district residents to pay for the budget.
The tax rate is $9.93 per $1,000 of assessed value. A home owner whose property is valued at $100,000, will pay $992.60 in school taxes.
The the district’s expenses will also be paid for through $9,454,738 in state aid and $1,580,872 from reserves, which will keep the budget at the tax cap.
A proposition to allow SLCSD to purchase three school buses passed Tuesday with approximately 88% of the vote. The total cost of all three buses can not be more than $395,000. The money for these buses will come from the district’s unassigned fund balance.
A proposition to allow the district board of education to levy $356,092 in taxes from district residents and use that money to supplement the Saranac Lake Free Library’s budget passed with approximately 80% of the vote.