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Ossining Re-Elects Incumbents, OKs Schools Budget

OSSINING, N.Y. – Incumbents Dana Levenberg and Kimberly Case are keeping their seats on the Ossining Board of Education, and voters passed the school district's budget Tuesday.

Challenger Sharon Abreau received 933 votes, but it was not enough to unseat Levenberg, who received 1,576, or Case, who got 1,661.

Voters in the Ossining Union Free School District also passed the schools' 2012-13 budget by 1,879 votes in favor and 1,049 votes against. The budget increases the tax levy by about 2.98 percent over 2011-12. The proposal cuts 11.4 full-time-equivalent positions and $3.3 million in nonclassroom spending. The 2012-13 total budget is $106,588,570, up from the 2011-12 budget of $103,502,510, according to district records.

Superintendent of Schools Phyllis Glassman said the 64 percent approval in the budget vote was the largest she could recall.

"I think it's the highest margin we've ever gotten," Glassman said Tuesday night. "On behalf of the Board of Education and all of our wonderful students, we are truly heartened by the outcome of the efforts of so many. The vote is an absolute affirmation of the value that we as a community place on our children's education and the recognition that we found common ground and achieved a true balance in the needs of our students and the needs of our community."

Board President Bill Kress said the margin was "at least the highest we've gotten in many years." He said the passing was less likely to be due to the 2 percent tax levy cap and was more likely the result of the hard work of the staff and the community.

"I think our school leadership had to do with it," Kress said. "I would like to thank and congratulate the community for supporting the budget for the next school year."

Abreau was not immediately available for comment Tuesday.

Levenberg said she was happy not only with the re-election of herself and Case, but with the budget's passing.

"I am so happy that we have the community support for the budget," Levenberg said. "I feel like this was a really positive day. I'm happy that the board, which I feel is a really strong board, remains intact for another few years."

Case agreed.

"I'm so excited," she said. "I'm glad to be on for another three years, and we're ready to work hard."

Ossining resident Rodney Ertischek, who has lived in the district for 36 years, said he voted in favor of the budget Tuesday.

"Somebody did it for us and it's our turn to pay it back," Ertischek said, adding that he no longer has children in the district. "It's our turn to pay it forward. If it wasn't for our parents, we wouldn't have an education, and the same thing goes for the next generation there now."

Kress previously said it would be a challenge to show voters that a 2.98 percent increase to the tax levy was the best option.

"At the end of the day, with all of the unfunded mandates and increased costs that we have no control over, I think we're still staying under our tax cap limit," Kress said previously, adding that he was very happy that the proposed budget included more than $3.3 million in cuts. "We had no choice, and this is not really an increase in my mind at the end of the day because of that."

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