With a very low turnout, School District 15 voters on Tuesday gave the go-ahead to a $93.1 million budget that slightly increases the tax levy, but had district officials introducing new measures to cut costs.
“I really believe the budget being approved represents a vote of confidence from the community,” Superintendent Gary Schall said. “I’m grateful for the community’s support.”
The budget was approved with a vote of 587-255, or 70 percent, which will increase the tax levy from $78.9 million to $80.5 million.
Incumbent board member Abel Feldhamer was re-elected with 524 uncontested votes, while Uri Kaufman, also uncontested, received 522 votes.
"I am truly gratified and humbled to have been given the opportunity to serve another three years," Kaufman said. "I was especially pleased to see the budget pass by such a wide margin. We'll keep working hard with our dedicated staff to insure that the district maintains its tradition of excellence."
Feldhamer said that he was also gratified by the results.
"I look forward to continuing to work with the rest of the board and the administration to ensure that Lawrence provides the best opportunities for our children," he said.
Voters also approved a $2.7 million Peninsula Public Library budget by a 322-199 final margin.
Library Trustee Sarah Yastrab, who was voted into office , received 532 votes in her uncontested re-election bid.
“Even with the low turnout, the budget passed. This reverberates in every segment in the community,” Board Member Dr. David Sussman said. “The school board recognizes everyone’s need and they can expect support.”
Some voters interviewed by Patch at the polls expressed support for the board.
“It’s a fair and balanced budget,” said Abe Zelmanovitz, of Cedarhurst. “The board is doing a good job. This gives them the leverage to do what they need to.”
And although many voters supported the budget, some still expressed disappointment with the board.
“The board does not have the best interest of the children at hand,” said Trish Terrone, of Cedarhurst. “The proposed changes are detrimental to the children that utilize the Lawrence schools. It’s unfortunate that the private school parents of our community don't support the public school children, because we must all remember that every child in our district is the future of our country.”
Some of those include the elimination of one period at the high school, and the replacement of teachers at the Number Four School with graduate students.
Turnout for this election was significantly low, as last year, some 4,000 Lawrence School District residents came out to vote.
“I fear people are losing interest,” said Patty Vacchio, of Inwood. “It’s a scary sign of where the school district is headed.”