PORT JERVIS - Amid thunder, lightning and fickle electricity, Port Jervis elected three school board members on Tuesday night.
The turnout was less than two thirds of recent school board election numbers. Linda Van Horn, the highest vote-getter and new to the board, received 360 votes. Incumbent Debbie Lasch got 359 votes, and former board member Reyes Torres, Jr., had 355.
Incumbent Valerie Maginsky lost her re-election bid with 334 votes. Newcomer Theresa Creegan lost with 347 votes, and former board member Nolene Tomasi got 259 votes. Board member Cathy Sadhagiani did not run for re-election.
Voters also approved the budget.
“The suggested increase was 2.27 percent and the board insisted that some additional fund balance be utilized, bringing it to 1.9 percent,” Maginsky said. “Both numbers are below the tax cap.” The budget includes funds to hire two security guards, she said.
After the election, in response to questions about her intent, Van Horn emailed, “I have no preconceived agenda. We need to address redistricting, the middle school and administration buildings’ aging, improvement in our graduation rates, and improvement in all students' education and overall well being. “
At a candidate introduction, all candidates supported adding preschool to the district. However, Lasch said that while funding is available, space is limited.
Safety was also a general concern. “I lean toward armed officers,” Van Horn said, suggesting that information be “compared and shared.”
Torres strongly supported redistricting to distribute elementary students more evenly between Hamilton Bicentennial Elementary and Anna S. Kuhl Elementary. “HBE is underutilized, and kindergarten should be all in one place,” he said, noting that the “red line border” between high school and elementary students at the Route 209 campus is inadequate. He also expressed concern that an athletic director, as previously proposed, had not been hired.
Annexation of Deerpark land by Port Jervis was also an issue discussed at the candidate introduction. The issue particularly affects the school district, which includes Deerpark land. Lasch said she felt municipal leaders were “trying to pull the wool over our eyes. We don’t have enough information.”