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School Budgets Pass Across the Board
SARATOGA COUNTY – Voters across New York State took to the polls at their local schools to vote on proposed budgets, board of education elections, and the odd proposition. Across the board in Saratoga County, budgets were passed and propositions were approved. Here are some of things that area voters decided to approve:
Saratoga Springs City School District:
-$122,712,342 2017-18 budget: Passed
-Purchase of six 66-passenger school buses, four 30-passenger buses, one 23-passenger wheelchair bus and one SUV: Passed
-Establishment of Capital Reserves Fund to ““finance future construction, general improvements, reconstruction and renovations”: Passed
Ballston Spa Central School District:
-$90,340,742 2017-18 budget: Passed
-Purchase of buses and vehicles, $907,000: Passed
-Public library funding, $55,650: Passed
-Creation of Ballston Area Recreation Commission, $30,000: Passed
Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake Central School District:
-$64,492,019 2017-18 budget: Passed
-Creation of student-held school board position: Authorized
Schuylerville Central School District:
-$34,849,537 2017-18 budget: Passed
-Bus leasing proposition: Passed
-Schuylerville Public Library funding: Passed
South Glens Falls Central School District: -$57,842,074 2017-18 budget: Passed -Purchase of five buses, one with wheelchair option, and one vehicle: Passed
Galway Central School District: -$21,058,918 2017-18 budget: Passed -Proposition to purchase four school buses: Passed
Mechanicville City School District: -$25,480,499 2017-18 budget: Passed -Proposition to purchase school bus: Passed -Sale of 0.44 acres of land on Elizabeth St. to Saratoga County for $1,000 for expansion of the Zim Smith trail: Approved
School Budget Vote 2017: What You Need to Know
SARATOGA COUNTY – On May 16, residents across New York State will be able to vote on the proposed budget for their local school districts. In the interest of helping potential voters in the Saratoga County area make an informed decision, we have gathered together information about what will be on the ballots for a number of major local school districts.
Saratoga Springs City School District residents will be voting on four major things: the 2017-18 budget, the Board of Education election, and two propositions. This year’s proposed budget amounts to $122,712,342, which calls for a 3.64-percent spending increase over last year. According to the district’s website, this proposed budget was designed to “preserve the outstanding quality of education for students within the district.” On the Board of Education election ballot are three candidates running for three-year terms: Anjeanette Emeka, who works in academic affairs at SUNY Empire State College, Jennifer Leidig, President and CEO of Ambiance Commerical Systems and Vice President of Ambiance, and Dr. Stephan Verral, a Board Certified Dermatologist in private practice at Gateway Dermatology in Glens Falls and Malta.
Proposition Two will authorize the district to spend $1,075,000 on six 66-passenger school buses, four 30-passenger buses, one 23-passenger wheelchair bus and one SUV. Proposition Three will authorize the creation of a “Capital Reserve Fund” to, according to the district website, “finance future construction, general improvements, reconstruction and renovations.” The fund would pull from existing funds and would not result in a tax increase.
Ballston Spa Central School District residents will be voting on a proposed 2017-18 budget, to fill three Board of Education seats, and on additional propositions. This year’s proposed budget is $90,340,742, and represents a 2.1-percent spending increase, which would result in a 0.6-percent tax increase across the district. On the Board of Education ballot, voters will chose between candidates Michael O’Donnell, Katie Thimineur, Lillian McCarthy, and Jeanne Obermayer to fill three seats. Propositions on the ballot this year include a “School Vehicle Replacement Proposition” that allows the district to spend up to $907,000 to purchase and replace buses and vehicles, permission to collect $55,650 for public library funding, and $30,000 for the Ballston Area Recreation Commission.
Schuylerville Central School District residents will vote on a proposed 2017-18 budget, to fill two Board of Education seats, and on a few propositions. This year’s proposed budget is $34,849,537, representing a spending increase of 2.1-percent. The district’s website claims that this budget will allow for the continuation of programs and services for students, and for the continued “investment in literacy and technology with the continuation of a literacy coach and technology integration specialist.” On the Board of Education ballot, voters will choose from Stanley Barber, Michael Bodnar, and Veronica Wood to fill two seats. Additional propositions will include a proposition for bus leasing and another for the Schuylerville Public Library budget.
Finally, voters in the Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake Central School District will vote on a 2017-18 budget, on three Board of Education candidates, and on an additional proposition. This year’s proposed budget is $64,492,019, which will represent a 2.48-percent spending increase. The Board of Education ballot will include candidates Peter Sawyer, John Blowers, and Don Marshall. Proposition Two would authorize the district to create a new Board of Education position to be held by a student from the high school.
The state-wide school budget vote will take place on May 16, from 7 a.m. – 9 p.m. Visit your district’s website to find out where your polling place will be this year.
Saratoga Girls Lacrosse Continues to Dominate
SARATOGA SPRINGS – A strong season is continuing apace for the dominant Saratoga Springs High School varsity girls lacrosse team.
In a league game against Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake on their home turf on April 22, the Blue Streaks dominated the visiting team from start to finish, ending the game with a strong 16-6 victory. The team made good on their intentions to dominate the game from the beginning, putting up the first point of the game, and by halftime, they had massive 10-1 lead. This win puts the team 5-0 in league games, with their only loss coming at the hands and sticks of Niskayuna in a non-league game. Coming up soon will be big games against formidable teams, including Shenendahowa, Shaker, and Bethlehem.
“We have really excellent momentum,” Coach Elaine Lotruglio said. “We’ve had one loss, and it was close. I think we’re in a real good place [going forward].”
Lotruglio was impressed by the rhythm of the game, noting that the younger team was really coming into its own. Compared to previous years’ teams, this team skews much more towards the lower grade levels, with five freshmen and four sophomore players. Lotruglio guesses that by the time these young players make it to their senior year, their familiarity with one another will make them a force to contend with.
“They love to be together,” Lotruglio said about the team’s chemistry. “They pass well, and they’re learning each other’s moves, so to speak.”
A strong practice routine is also helping the team put up impressive numbers, in particular their warm-ups developed by the players themselves alongside assistant coach Elise Britt, a personal trainer and Maple Avenue Middle School health teacher. Lotruglio also noted how the team pulls certain shortcomings from each game they play so that they can work towards fixing them in future practice sessions.
Alongside the younger players, this season’s team has four senior players, Olivia Oskin, Cameron Parry, Emily Fischer, and Francesca Mangino, the latter three of which have signed their letters of intent to play inter-collegiate lacrosse in the fall. Lotruglio also highlighted the skills of sophomore Lindsey Frank, junior Ellen Payer, and junior Katie Wendell.
“They all just have a lot of fun together,” Lotruglio said.
All photos by www.photoandgraphic.com.
Quiet on Set: Local Students Help Produce Anti-Bullying PSA
SARATOGA SPRINGS – A director discusses the specifics of scene D-14 with his actors and crew, stressing that 5-6 shots will be needed. Meanwhile, a short ways away on the set, other actors patiently wait on their marks, going over their lines and directions for the upcoming shots. All the while, the cast and crew eagerly await the completion of the last few shots so that can finally take their lunch break for the day.
But this film set is not in Hollywood, or somewhere else far off. It’s right here at the Saratoga Springs Public Library (SSPL). And that cast and crew is not made up entirely of film industry professional. Rather, it is composed of local students, learning about film production for a good cause.
Filmmaker Mike Feurstein returned to the Saratoga Springs area for a five-day film residency as part of the Don’t Wait to UnMake a Bully program, a partnership between his How to UnMake a Bully program and Lisa Bradshaw’s Don’t Wait Project. Through the program, Feurstein works with students in districts nationwide, using roles on a film set to teach them about treating others with respect and how to avoid being a bully. After the in-class lessons, students take what they learn and use their new skills to help produce an anti-bullying PSA. This most recent residency ran from April 17-20, with filming at the library taking place in the last three days.
“We meet the classes for the first time on a Monday and talk about bullying, kindness, citizenship, digital citizenship, cyber security, and things like that for the first 45 minutes,” Feurstein said. “The second 45 minutes is learning how to make a movie, and we learn all the roles, and I tie the roles into civic responsibility. So the sound guy is a good listener, and the director is a good leader as well as a good listener. So we tie in the jobs of a movie set to how you should e behaving in a civilized society.”
This is Feurstein’s second time working with students on a project in the SSPL, having worked there for the first time two years ago. This year, he is working with students mostly from the Saratoga Springs City School District, as well a few from South Glens Falls and Burnt Hills. The short film that they came up with has an appropriately library-inspired theme, with villainous characters coming out of various books and possessing the bodies a various children, causing them to act like bully.
“The Queen of Hearts is acting all boisterous and bossy,” Feurstein said. “And the Wizard of Oz is acting boastful”
According to Youth Services librarian Kali Nagler, the film will premiere to the families of the students and the public in a special screening on June 15, and in the fall, they will feature the film as part of a planned anti-bullying awareness day alongside the first film produced in 2015. The film will also be shared on Feurstein’s YouTube channel, “Unmaker Mike.”
“I think a lot of them are learning that making a movie is hard work,” Feurstein said. “And it’s collaborative, they have to work together, they have to listen.”
All photos by www.photoandgraphic.com.
My Olympic Moments Jason Morris’ Olympic Judo Journey
My Olympic journey in judo first came to fruition when I qualified for the 1988 Games in Seoul, Korea. It’s hard to believe that in one way or another, the journey has continued for almost two decades. I have been involved in the past eight Olympics: the first four as a player (Seoul, Barcelona, Atlanta and Sydney); the next one (Athens) for my magazine, Real Judo; the next (Beijing) as a coach; and in the most recent three, including Rio, competitors have reached the Games from the training center in Glenville that my wife, Teri, and I started. I reached both the high and low of this Olympic journey at the 25th Olympiad in Barcelona, Spain. And it happened within a span of nine days. I’d had four narrow misses leading up to the Barcelona Games - losing in the bronze medal match at the 1987 world championships, losing in the second round of the 1988 Olympics and losing in the bronze medal match of the 1989 world championships. Then, I had to settle for ninth place at the 1991 world championships. I was considered one of the top players in the world during that time, but I couldn’t break through and reach the podium at the main events. In 1987, 1988 and 1989, I had lost to Bacir Varaev from Russia; even now, I joke that he has three of my medals. I had gone into those events with high confidence, fully expecting to win. Losing had taken a toll. Maybe I needed a new approach. I was all business my first Olympics, not really taking in all it had to offer. I changed that in Spain. Even though I trained extremely hard, I was determined to enjoy the Olympic ride, so to speak, and take it all in. There are so many things to enjoy inside and outside the Olympic village, and I tried to take advantage in hopes of lessening the pressure of the competition. I hung out on the beach boardwalk, which had a couple places to eat and a fantastic view. The ocean was very calming. Seeing it took me away from the fact that I was at a competition. I changed my mind-set. I wasn’t going to define my career by whether I medaled. I recall enjoying the entire process, including my competition days. As I moved through the rounds, I was quite calm. I didn’t put the pressure on myself that I had in the past. I was able to control those emotions and work my way through each match, doing what was needed to be successful. I ended up beating one of the favorites to win our division -Antonie Wurth of the Netherlands in the second round, even though he had defeated me earlier in the year in the Hungarian Open final. Next up, in the quarterfinals, was a familiar name. I was to face Charip Varaev, the brother of my biggest rival. The Russians replaced Bacir with Charip for the Barcelona Games, even though Bacir had medaled in four previous Olympics. Finally taking out a Varaev was satisfying, but even more important, it put me into the semifinals. I was one victory from finally achieving a medal. When I threw Lars Adolfsson, from Sweden, in the semifinal to secure a place in the final and assuring myself a spot on the podium, I walked around the mat with my hands raised high and let out a primal scream. That outburst was me thinking: “Finally!” As I came off the mat, I was greeted by one of the Olympic coaches and longtime friend Irwin Cohen. I then went right in the stands to Teri, my girlfriend at the time. We embraced and shared a congratulatory kiss that was replayed over and over on Japanese TV. The final was against Hidehiko Yoshida (Japan), who had plowed though the other side of the draw. I was very nervous, but it was a healthy nervous. My confidence was high. I started the match strong and took the early lead. I knew he would come back at me harder after he was penalized for passivity. I withstood his barrage of attacks, but not before getting scored on (a yuko, or partial score) to fall behind. I felt that he was starting to fade after he spent so much energy to take the lead. Like the previous three bouts, in which I also had trailed, I was sure I would come back. But just then, Yoshida maneuvered his way into a very good position. He knew I was in trouble and blasted in with his trademark uchimata (an inner-leg throw). It was over. At that moment, of course I was devastated. I was so close to winning a gold. Still, I knew the silver was an incredible achievement. The next nine days were heaven, but my dream quickly became a nightmare. I had headed back to Washington, D.C., for the Olympians luncheon at the White House and was staying at Teri’s parents’ house in Alexandria, Va., when I received word that my father, Bernie, who had remained in Spain, suffered a massive heart attack and died on his way to the closing ceremonies. He was just 49. Suddenly, my world was torn apart. I was very close to my father, and getting closer because of all of his involvement in my judo career. My dad was my travel agent, public relations man, press agent, financial advisor and videographer, among other things. In fact, one of his videos of Wurth was very valuable in creating a strategy to beat him. It took some time, but I put the pieces back together and regained the passion to make two more Olympic teams. And I went on to develop one of the top programs in the country, the Jason Morris Judo Center. Although the focus of the media was my success and the death of my father, my mother, Chris, was the early driving force in my career. She often gets overlooked, but I wouldn’t have accomplished anything without her getting me to practice and putting up with me for many years. My dad really came into the picture with my career later, when he realized judo was more than something I participated in. It was a livelihood. My passion for the Olympics is as strong as ever, and trying to get athletes to realize their own dreams is what drives me. There are so many phenomenal things about the Olympic Games but I must say, walking in during the opening ceremony tops them all. I was fortunate enough to walk in five of them. Not a lot moves me, but being part of those ceremonies is such an honor and privilege. Sometimes I catch myself thinking of how proud my dad was then, and how he would be now that this wonderful ride has lasted eight Olympiads. Jason Morris competed in four Olympics in judo, winning a silver medal in the 1992 Games. He and his wife, Teri, run the Jason Morris Judo Center in Glenville.
Kara ‘Trips’ Back Home
Burnt Hills Native Returns to Northshire for Third Novel Release
SARATOGA SPRINGS – Kara Storti has been blessed with the gift of articulation – the ability not only to communicate – but to reach into her own soul, and touch yours. This has been evident since her high school (Burnt Hills/Ballston Lake) days, when, as a young songwriter, she dazzled audiences with her original, introspective lyrics, a sweet, yet powerful voice, and melodies that grabbed you and wouldn’t let go.
It was obvious that, despite not being old enough to buy a drink at some of the places she played music (such as Gaffney’s, during songwriter nights) with her band, or solo behind the keyboard, that she could more than hold her own with seasoned veterans twice her age, maybe more. There was no doubt in anyone’s mind that saw her perform that she would be a pro – and a successful one at that.
Fast forward just over a decade, and we find that Kara done just that – become a professional who has taken her craft of writing to a new level, with the publication of her third novel, Tripping Back Blue, that will have its New York release next Thursday at Northshire Bookstore. This ‘homecoming’ to her native area will include reading, Q + A, and book signing.
In addition to being a novelist, Kara has applied her craft to professional outlets. After high school, she migrated to Boston (her current home), where she logged a stint at Harvard University’s office of correspondence for Harvard’s then-President Lawrence Summers, and currently does medical writing for Vortex, a pharma company that develops drugs to combat cystic fibrosis.
“I love medical writing,” Kara noted, “After Lawrence Summers left/got booted at Harvard, I stayed around for a bit during the search for his successor in the Provost’s office, but I needed to get more stimulation from writing.” This came from the medical field, but more importantly from writing fiction as well.
Don’t judge a book by its cover, and in the same vein, don’t let Kara’s sweet persona and her good-natured sense of humor (laced with a nice bit of deadpan sarcasm) fool you – this is gritty writing in the realism mode. In Tripping, set in the urban, mostly inner-city areas of the Capital Region, Kara writes from the perspective of Finn, a male drug dealer and his own personal struggles with addiction, and life in general.
“The inspiration for this was real,” Kara said, “I was in a relationship with a guy from Burnt Hills who struggled with a drug problem. I had started to develop some of the themes of the book before I became aware about his battling these demons. Actually, the main character began as a female, sort of a female Harry Potter, who defeated dark forces with components of magic. But once I did learn the truth about him, the words just flowed in a different direction. It turned out to be a catharsis of sorts for me.”
Some brief excerpts tell the tale:
“All I’ve got to do is just get through this ordeal. Push through it; be a man…
“Stupid car. Stupid neighborhood. It’d be one thing if I lived in New York City, where there’s violence, sure, but tons of opportunity to become a better man. Not the case here. Instead I’m north of Albany, in rotten Dammer-f-ing-town, where there is no other side, where no great life is waiting for me, where the earth threw up and walked away.”
- From ‘Tripping Back Blue’
By Kara Storti
Published by Carolrhoda Books - April 1, 2016
I asked her if she still composed songs. “I still write them, from time to time, when I can,” she said. “I find that it is good to combat writer’s block – switching disciplines can unclog the mental log jam.”
These and other tips will be shared with a Saratoga Springs High School Senior class earlier that day, while you get to enjoy the finished product of her hard work and effort later that evening.
As a music programmer, Kara Storti made me look like a very discerning, smart judge of talent. You will feel the same way if you recommend her appearance next week, as an accomplished author, to friends. As big a thrill as it is to spot a young person with a gift, it’s even a bigger thrill to check in later on, and see how that ability and flair has blossomed. And that, simply, is what you have before you next Thursday.
Speaking of which, if you read this far, you have migrated to our PULSE section, where Rebecca Davis does a great job letting her talent blossom. I highly recommend that you read the rest of this section as long as you are here - always a nice counterpoint to the dreary news of the day.
“An evening with author Kara Storti” will take place at Northshire Bookstore, 424 Broadway in Saratoga Springs next Thursday, May 26 at 6 p.m. Kara will be conducting a Q & A, reading and signing copies of her new novel – “Tripping Back Blue” – which is suitable for mature teens and adults.
Weekend Has Two Great Races—The Alabama and Sword Dancer
Whatever happened to ladies first? So much of what is written these days surrounds the horses, colts and geldings. They do make most of the headlines especially in the post-Zenyatta and Rachel Alexandra era, but Saturday is high time for the three-year-old fillies to strut in the Grade I $600,000 Alabama Stakes.