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Board of education asks state to overturn annual budget vote

BEEKMANTOWN-The Beekmantown CentralSchool District board of education voted unanimously at a special meeting May 23 to ask New York State Education Commissioner John B. King Jr. to overturn the budget vote, according to district clerk Joanne Menard.

At the May 17 election, 383 people (26 percent) voted on a machine displaying the school budget of the previous year, district treasurer Eric Bell said. The 2011-12 budget passed 746 to 730, representing a 16 vote difference.

Whereas the current proposed budget is $38,721,107, the voting machine in question displayed last year's budget of $37,458,259, according to Bell. There is, roughly, a $1.26 million difference between the two figures.

This led some district residents, including former school board president Holly Sims, to call for a revote.

"I think it's absolutely necessary, because taxpayers voted on a number that is not accurate,"Sims said.

While she was unsure, she believed such an action would cost thousands of dollars. Sims said there were too many people involved in the vote to pick out one as directly responsible for the ballot error.

"I think they just forgot to change it," she said.

Still, she said, while school district superintendent Scott A. Amo was not directly in charge of running the vote, he was in charge of the school district, and so ultimately it was his responsibility.

Additionally, the May 23 meeting was not advertised in a major media outlet, in violation of the law, Sims said. She heard about it "through the grapevine" and wasn't aware there was a problem with the vote until after making some calls.

"It was very quiet," Sims said.

Also discussed at the meeting were allegations of electioneering in school, according to Sims. These included reports of school employees wearing "Vote Yes" buttons in school, and a teacher who brought roughly 60 students, who were over the age of 18, to the vote. Sims said she had received a campaign flier, from the Beekmantown Teacher's Association posted at the junior prom, from an upset parent.

(Editor's Note: Superintendent Scott A. Amo was out of the office May 25 and did not respond to a message requesting comment before press time.)

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