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Vacant School Board seat, but no candidates emerge in Iroquois district

Suppose they gave an election and nobody ran. Voters in the Iroquois Central School District will face that unusual scenario next week when they head to the polls for the annual budget proposition and School Board election.

Potential candidates were required to submit their paperwork to the district by April 20, but the deadline passed without a single person stepping forward.

That means the district has an uncontested vacant seat because board member Thomas DiScipio isn’t running for a second five-year term.

Board of Education president Charles Specht said it’s a situation he’s never seen – or heard of – during his six years on the board.

“It does put us in a bit of an awkward position, but we’ll deal with it,” Specht said.

In fact, the situation occurs so infrequently that the New York State School Boards Association doesn’t keep statistics on it.

Jay Worona, deputy executive director and general counsel for the school board association, said there are instances every year in which a school board may lose a member.

Still, he acknowledged that while a vacancy may not be unusual, an election without candidates is.

“It’s a rather rare occurrence,” said Worona. “Most districts would not have a multitude of candidates, but they generally have enough to fill a vacancy.”

Specht agreed and speculated that confidence in the Iroquois board, no hot-button district issues and dissatisfaction with the state Education Department may have convinced potential candidates to stay away.

“I’m kind of disappointed,” Specht said. “If there were a major issue we’d probably have people running.”

Specht said there was a resident who expressed an interest in serving on the board but decided the time wasn’t right due to work and family commitments.

Before the board decides how to fill the seat, it must wait to see if a write-in candidate emerges from the May 19 election.

The board is required to offer the post to a write-in candidate, but if it’s declined, there are options. According to Worona, board appointments vary from district to district, depending on policy; a resident could be appointed, the seat could be left vacant, or the departing member could be asked to stay for another year.

“A board can hold a special election, but that might not make sense if there aren’t candidates now,” Worona added.

Specht said DiScipio has agreed to return to the board if a write-in candidate doesn’t emerge.

“He would be willing to do that,” Specht said. “He was part of our contract negotiating team and he’d like to finish that out.”

That would take care of the immediate concern, but a similar situation next year could present greater issues because two terms are set to expire at Iroquois.


Iroquois School Board/Budget info

Candidates (Elect 1): No declared candidates.

Total budget: $46,648,435, s 3.76 percent

Tax levy (total amount to be raised through property taxes): $27,842,604, s 3.41 percent

Tax levy increase allowed under tax cap: 3.41 percent

Property tax rate per $1,000 of assessed value: $41.45 in Aurora, s 3.4 percent; $352.77 in Elma, s 3.4 percent; $16.58 in Lancaster, s 3.4 percent; $37.68 in Marilla, s 3.4 percent; $37.68 in Wales, s 3.4 percent.

Taxes on $100,000 home (market value): $1,658

Proposition: Voters will be asked to approve spending $200,000 from the district’s technology reserve fund to purchase computer hardware, software and connectivity equipment.

Proposition: Voters will be asked to approve purchasing four 62-passenger buses, two 20-passenger buses and one van at a maximum cost of $544,000, less trade-in value for obsolete buses.

Polls open: 7:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. in the Intermediate School gymnasium, 2111 Girdle Road, Elma.