Budgets Approved in Most Local School Districts But Carmel Plan Goes Down; Curzio Top Vote-Getter in Carmel

John Curzio Carmel
Former Carmel Trustee John Curzio, who lost his seat in 2019 after seeking a second term, was the top vote-getter with 1,328.

Voters in Putnam County school districts approved most budgets for the 2021-22 school year and elected board of education members Tuesday but the Carmel budget went down.

In Carmel, the budget was voted down 1,296-1,125. 

In the Board of Education race for three available seats, former Trustee John Curzio, who lost his seat in 2019 after seeking a second term, was the top vote-getter with 1,328. Newcomer Melissa Orser also was victorious with 1,233 votes and Trustee Jason Paraskeva earned a new term with 1,170.

Falling short were board President Michelle Yorio with 1,101 and Tamara Harrison with 958.

The Carmel Board of Education will meet Thursday at 7 p.m. to determine next steps, following the defeat of its proposed $133,581,366 budget for the 2021-2022 school year, a press release stated.

“Options include holding another budget vote after soliciting input from the voters or adopting a contingency budget, which would require cutting $1,664,980 from the proposed budget,” the release also said.

“Obviously, we are disappointed that the proposed budget with a tax levy increase of 1.69% and plans to maintain all existing academic programs and services was not approved by our community,” said Superintendent Mary-Margaret Zehr. “We are reaching out today through Thought Exchange to solicit feedback from the voters to help inform our next steps.” 

Although voters defeated the proposed budget, the proposition to implement a system of walk-in voter registration passed by a vote of 1,470 to 903.  

If the board chooses to adopt a contingency budget, it must freeze the district tax levy, cut spending and reduce staffing. 

“It is critical that we hear from you, the voters, as we navigate these decisions about our children’s future,” said Zehr. “We are asking voters to please provide their feedback and insights on the defeated budget proposal through a Thought Exchange. It is only with the help of the community that we can move forward in providing for our students’ future.”

In the neighboring Mahopac Central School District, the spending plan was approved 917-694.

Michael Martin finished first among six candidates vying for three seats on the Board of Education with 780 votes. Incumbent trustees David Furfaro (767) and Lucy Massafra (724) were second and third.

Also in the race were Allison Mueller (685), Roger Duran (571) and Joaquim Mota, Jr. (491).

Meanwhile, in Brewster, the budget passed 673-446 and a bus proposition passed 681-424.

In the Board of Education contest for four seats, only three candidates were on the ballot on earned three-year terms: Newcomer Cynthia (MacGregor) Fox (844), Trustee Erik Grutzner (731) and Trustee Dehisy Jimenez-Vazquez (692).

Write-in candidate Leonore Volpe received 222 votes to earn a one-year term. Board President Sonia Mesika and Trustee Jason Whitehead did not seek reelection.

In Garrison, the $11 million budget was approved 185-61.

Three incumbents, Courtney McCarthy (178), David Gelber (178) and Madeline Julian (191), were all reelected to new three-year terms on the Board of Education. Kent Schacht finished fourth with 161 to earn one year to complete the term of former Trustee Jill Lake, who resigned. Ned Rauch came in fifth with 117 votes.

In Putnam Valley, residents approved the budget 430-309.

The only two candidates on the ballot for two open seats, Trustee Barbara Parmly and Helen Horvitz, were elected with 590 and 462 votes respectively. Longtime Trustee Guy Cohen did not run for reelection.

(Results in the Haldane School District were not available)

An earlier version of this report incorrectly said the Carmel budget was approved. We regret the error.