Residents in the Lewiston-Porter School District Wednesday narrowly approved a $19.9 million budget for 1989-90.
The budget, which was passed, 1,154-995, is expected to increase taxes in Lewiston from $22.09 per $1,000 of assessed value to $24.07. The tax rate in Porter will about $2, from $20.55 to $22.52.
Harrison Coppock, Gerald Kenney and incumbent Robert Filocamo were elected to three-year terms on the School Board, defeating Thomas Pryce and Nancy Mastroianni, both incumbents, and Pam Harrell.
Last year three candidates ran as a bloc and won by a wide margin. This year the winning candidates also ran in a bloc and easily gained the top three spots.
Coppock was the top vote-getter with 1,534 votes. He served on the board 13 years ago and stressed his experience in selecting superintendents. During his tenure on the board, two superintendents were named.
The current School Board tried last fall to fire Schools Superintendent Gail M. Stephens for alleged failure to maintain the district's buildings and other charges. State Education Commissioner Thomas Sobol has ruled that her dismissal was illegal, but Dr. Stephens remains on suspension while awaiting the outcome of mediation and other legal actions.
Some residents believe that the newly elected school board eventually may select a successor to Dr. Stephens as superintendent. Meanwhile, Donald Yates is serving as acting superintendent.
"Selecting a new superintendent for Lewiston-Porter will be the biggest issue facing me as a board member," said Coppock.
Gerald Kenney came in second with 1,466 votes.
Kenney said he teamed with his two running-mates because they shared similar views, but he said he plans to remain independent.
"I've always been independent. I think I'll contribute to the board because I am a young, aggressive and a good businessman," said Kenney.
Filocamo, an incumbent serving one year of an unexpired term, ran last year on an anti-budget campaign. This year he outlined how as a member of the board he saved taxpayers $2 million in one year without cutting programs.
He also said that, as a principal in the Niagara-Wheatfield School District, he has a strong no-nonsense administrative background.
Board President Mac I. Barnett said he remembered last year's vote when the district saw its largest voter turnout and the defeat of the budget.
"Budgets are difficult to pass. It's a tough fight, but I'm thrilled with the community support. The community knows that we are trying to help everyone," he said of this year's vote.
Barnett also commented on the 797 votes Pryce and 752 votes Mrs. Mastroianni received. "The fact that two incumbents got the lowest votes is a message from the community. It's an indictment against the past board (of two years ago,)" he said.
Acting Superintendent Don Yates said, "The citizens are to be congratulated anytime a community supports a 9 percent increase it is demonstrative proof of how they feel about the schools. Our message is and has been to provide the best educational program at a reasonable cost and we hope to continue that."
The more than 100 people who waited for the results of the election could have gone home early if they had asked Teacher William Geiben's class to predict the results. The class on participation in government conducted exit polls and made phone surveys which according to Geiben were right on the mark.
All six candidates also had gone into the classroom to talk with the students and the class analyzed candidate's fliers and went through the budget.