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Voter interest mild in Alden’s school elections

Families jammed the parking lot and streamed into Alden Central High School’s hallways on Tuesday night, but it wasn’t a zeal for civic duty that pushed voters to the polls.

A combination of school concerts, art shows and track meets held at the high school dropped Alden residents at the polling place door, whether they wanted to vote or not. With no competition for the two incumbent board members, Jill Hopcia and Ken Stoldt, and no tax levy increase in the budget, few voters raised an eyebrow at this year’s election.

The budget passed handily, 694 to 235 and the nonbinding vets tax exemption passed 717 to 209.

Nikia Glapa, a parent of three children in the district, came for the trifecta of election, art show and chorus concert. While the events made voting convenient for parents, Glapa said it causes parking woes for other voters.

“For me it’s a convenience,” she said. “I’m very neutral to the propositions, there’s nothing pressing.”

Proposition 5, a non-binding, sought the community’s opinion on the Alternative Veterans school tax exemption. Based on 2014 tax rates, non-eligible taxpayers would see an increase of 0.87 percent to their tax bills. The board will take the vote into consideration if they hold a public forum next March, said Alden Superintendent Adam Stoltman.

Marlene Kotlowski, a retired Alden primary school teacher, and her husband, veteran Stephen Kotlowski, came out to support their district and veterans.

“The veterans have done a lot for this country,” she said. “They put their life on the line.”

The possible increase didn’t seem to both Alden parents Al and Monica Farrell. While the art show brought the couple to the school, they also voted to sustain programs they liked in the district. Al expressed vocal enthusiasm about the paintings hung in the hallway but shrugged when asked about the tax exemption.

“Yeah sure,” he said. “I like veterans.”

Tuesday night’s sedate election might not have been enough to get some parents to the polls, even if they were mere feet away from them. Several parents said they didn’t read about the issues before Tuesday or cared not to vote at all.

Jennifer Ostrach made a last minute effort to skim the budget pamphlet outside the cafeteria while her son pointed at paintings down the hallway. Ostrach questioned the need for a capital reserve fund for buses, but favored the tax exemption.

“It may mean a little more for me,” she said. “But that’s something I think we should be willing to do.”