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Cambridge, N.Y., voters went to the polls Tuesday to elect a new school board member. (Peter Crabtree)
Cambridge, N.Y., voters went to the polls Tuesday to elect a new school board member. (Peter Crabtree)
Cambridge, N.Y., voters went to the polls Tuesday to elect a new school board member. (Peter Crabtree)

CAMBRIDGE, N.Y. -- Residents in the Cambridge Central School District voted to elect Don Boyd to fill one of two open seats on the Board of Education.

Boyd previously served two consecutive three-year terms on the BOE, ending in June 2010.

One of three candidates on the ballot, Boyd ran against Douglas Santeramo, a student, and fellow former board member Brent Dupras.

Dupras officially withdrew his candidacy last week according to officials, in support of Boyd, who won with 328 votes out of 370.

Voters cited a sense of relief at the polls on Tuesday, saying that after more than a year of turmoil among current and former members of the board, new ideas would be welcome.

"Regardless of where you stand on the issues, the dysfunction that has been displayed is unsettling," said voter Amy Braun, also the food service director for CCS.

"People like to be positive and moving forward I think we'll see more of that," she said, prior to casting her vote.

District resident Stephen Lulla turned out in support of Boyd with his wife Christine, and also noted concerns with the current dysfunction among the board.

"I know Don personally and I hold him in very high regard," said Lulla, of Boyd's prior service on the board. "I believe he is a clear thinker and an objective thinker."

Lulla himself ran for a seat on the board during the last regularly scheduled BOE election, held in May 2012. He lost to Peggy McLenithan and Dr. Kerri Brown, who each served just over a year in their positions before resigning in September and November respectively.

Of the debate regarding whether or not to extend current Supervisor Vince Canini's contract, Lulla said he was in support of him.

"He seemed to really have the backing of the teachers' union, the students and the majority of the community," said Lulla. "We need to focus on what is best for the children."

Retired teacher and lifelong resident Caroline Ashton said she personally feels very invested in the success of the school, and has "a very high regard" for Superintendent Canini.

"I am very concerned about the recent upheaval among the board," said Ashton, counting their long term stability as a priority.

Ashton served as a Kindergarten teacher in the district from 1972 - 2003, and said she knows both candidates personally. She taught Santeramo as a student, and witnessed Boyd's prior years of service.

"He proved his worth as a board member," she said of Boyd.

Due to the timing of the resignations from McLenithan and Brown, the board will not be complete until either a second special election is held or a fifth member is appointed to the position.

At the last regularly scheduled BOE meeting, currently seated members Lillian Herrington, Paul Baker-Porazinski and Dr. Thomas Wolski agreed the best way to proceed would be to hold another special election, especially if it could be combined with an upcoming project vote, although no motion was passed at the time.

Business Manager Beth Coates said the option to combine the as-yet-undecided second election with a proposed capital projects vote will now be unlikely, due to the probability of the project vote being postponed until December 2014.

The New York State Education Department approval of project funding is based on a five-year, rolling basis, and is currently not scheduled to be revisited until 2017.

Of the approximate $3.155 million allocated for incidental spending, including "soft costs" of site work, legal and insurance fees, material testing and parking lot work, $2.45 million was already spent as part of the recently completed $8 million project.

With a capital projects budget of just under $4 million for the remaining four years, only $700,000 is allowable toward incidental costs, and the majority is earmarked for construction as required by law.

Due to a Building Aid Unit (BAU) law that mandates the breakdown of project spending, based on calculations per child, pushing the project forward sooner would risk the possibility of making the project "not 100 percent aid-able," said Coates.

"That law was never enforced but they're starting to enforce it," she said, citing 2012 as the turning point following the implementation of property tax caps.

Despite the fifth seat remaining temporarily vacant, the community outlook was positive on Tuesday.

Boyd won with 328 votes, to Santeramo's 29. Dupras, although not actively campaigning at the time of the election received 13 votes.

The next scheduled meeting of the Board of Education will be held on Dec. 17 at 7 p.m.

Contact Khynna at kkuprian@benningtonbanner.com and follow her on Twitter @khynnakat.