By Jill Keppeler
The Tonawanda News
— — A slow but steady stream of Tonawanda-area voters ventured out in unseasonably sultry May weather Tuesday to weigh in on their school district budgets and board candidates.
Not long after 11 a.m., when polls opened in the Tonawanda High School Wellness Gym, Elaine Schuh arrived to do what she called her civic duty.
"I think voting is part of the American way," she said. "You have to do this, regardless of any issues you might have. It keeps America, America."
In the City of Tonawanda, voters are asked to decide on a $29.8 million budget with a tax levy rate that's up 3.2 percent from last year and vote on the sale of Central School for $220,000. Candidates running for three board seats are Geraldine Angelo, Fred Busch, Elizabeth Olka and incumbent Danielle Opalinski.
Andrea Scholz arrived to vote for the budget and show support for board candidate Olka.
"She does wonders for the City of Tonawanda," Scholz said. "She loves the kids, she loves the community, she loves the people."
Marie Kaiser said that she voted against the budget and for only one candidate, Busch, because she said he was also against the new football stadium, which will replace the old Clinton Small Stadium on Main Street.
"That's important to a lot of us," she said. "You can't put a price on history ... and that's our history."
In North Tonawanda, voters weighed in on a $65.74 million budget with a tax levy up 2.56 percent from last year. Candidates running for two board seats include incumbents Colleen Osborn, Arthur Pappas, Robert Schmigel, Susanne Williams and Randy Bradt.
Audrey Monkiewicz said that she voted for the budget, pointing out that good school districts mean better property values and suffering school districts mean lower ones.
"We support education in North Tonawanda," she said. "We're worried about the taxpayers who are so concerned about raising costs that the quality of education will suffer."
However, voter Mike Glynn was against the budget, saying that teachers should be contributing more to their own health care and insurance.
"We've been losing children in our community for a long time," he said, "but our taxes haven't gone down and they want to raise things still."
At Hoover Middle School, the voting site for the Kenmore-Town of Tonawanda School District, residents voted on a $149 million with a tax levy up 4.66 percent. Candidates running for two board seats include Richard Harned, Stephen Hart, Todd Potter and incumbent Bob Dana.
Amy Fusani, who has four children at three different district schools, including one child with special needs, said she was very interested in consolidation plans for the district.
"We love Kenmore, and we want it to keep small communities, small schools," she said, "so I made sure to support candidates I thought would do that."
Voting will continue today from noon to 9 p.m. at the Alumni Student Activity Center at North Tonawanda High School, 405 Meadow Drive, NT; until 8 p.m. at the Tonawanda High School Wellness Gym, 600 Fletcher St., City of Tonawanda; and until 9 p.m. at Hoover Middle School, 249 Thorncliff Road, Town of Tonawanda.