Stillwater residents approve 2024-25 budget, elect three to the Board of Education

On Tuesday, May 21, 2024, residents of the Stillwater Central School District approved the proposed $30,782,778 budget for the 2024-25 school year by a vote of 183 to 92, a 66.55% approval. The budget reflects a 2.65% increase in spending over the current-year budget and a 4.69% increase in the tax levy, which is within the district’s tax levy limit.

“Thank you to everyone for taking the time to vote today,” said Superintendent of Schools Joseph Mariano, Jr. “The approved budget ensures we can continue to provide our students a high quality education that not only promotes success but establishes a robust foundation for future generations. We appreciate the community’s ongoing support and look forward to planning for the 2024-25 school year.”

The budget sustains all educational programs for students, preserves current services, and includes the purchase of three new school buses. The approved budget also includes funding for salary increases for faculty and staff, as well as increased costs associated with health insurance and other employee benefits.

The projected tax levy—the total amount of money a school district raises through property taxes—increases by 4.69% under the approved budget. This increase is below Stillwater’s maximum allowable tax levy increase of 6.40% as determined by the state’s tax levy “cap” formula.

District officials surmise that school tax rates, which are the amount of taxes residents pay per $1,000 of assessed property value, will increase by approximately 2.14% for district residents. Final school tax rates are set in August when municipalities finalize their assessment rolls.

Board of Education election

Three seats on the Stillwater Board of Education were up for election this year, each for three-year terms. Candidates received the following number of votes:

  • Jon Mueller: 202 votes
  • Melissa DeCota: 196 votes
  • Melissa Zdonick: 169 votes

Melissa DeCota will serve a term that begins on May 22, 2024 and expires on June 30, 2027, to fill the vacated seat of Paul Lilac. Jon Mueller and Melissa Zdonick will serve three-year terms that commence on July 1, 2024, and expire on June 30, 2027.

Capital reserve proposition approved

Stillwater residents approved the establishment of a capital reserve by a vote of 196 to 79. The reserve will be funded with current unassigned fund balance that would be reallocated to the reserve. The monies in the reserve would be used to help offset the cost of future capital project(s). While the proposition asked voters to authorize the district to fund the reserve in an amount up to $10 million, the actual amount to be transferred to the reserve will be determined at the end of each fiscal year.

Stillwater Public Library proposition approved, trustees elected

District residents approved a $378,757 budget for the Stillwater Public Library by a vote of 165 to 103, which is separate and apart from the school district budget, to fund the operating budget of the library. The Stillwater Public Library has the same service boundary as the school district, however, the library is not governed by the district.

Voters also elected the following four individuals to the library’s Board of Trustees:

  • Heather Frank: 185 votes
  • John Butler: 179 votes
  • Emily Moose: 154 votes
  • Brandon Dingeman: 141 votes

Heather Frank, John Butler and Emily Moose were elected at-large to serve terms that will run from July 1, 2024, to June 30, 2027. Brandon Dingeman was elected at-large to serve a one-year term that will run from July 1, 2024, to June 30, 2025.