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Danielle Bruno and Joy LaMarca on Election Day.
Danielle Bruno and Joy LaMarca on Election Day.

Voters approve school budget, vehicle purchases, and elect board members

Sat, May 25th 2024 11:20 am

Story and Photos by Alice Gerard

Senior Contributing Writer

Island voters approved the Grand Island Central School District’s 2024-25 budget by the vote of 772-445 during a vote at the high school on Tuesday. Voters also approved a proposition authorizing the purchase of three buses to transport students and two vehicles for buildings and grounds by the vote of 763-453.

In addition, Island voters elected two incumbents and one newcomer to the Board of Education.

Former Grand Island High School Principal Roger Broeker was elected with 917 votes, and incumbents Joy LaMarca and Danielle Bruno were reelected with 820 and 804 votes, respectively. Jennifer Chin, who was not elected, received 511 votes.

During the vote, the Grand Island Central School District also presented a districtwide art show, featuring artists from all five of Grand Island’s schools, as well as a chicken barbecue and a sale of cutting boards and an Adirondack chair, designed and built by students in the high school’s technology wing.

Max Black, a student in the high school’s technology department, was selling cutting boards, as well as raffle tickets to win the Adirondack chair. He said students in the technology 2 and the CAD (computer assisted design) 2 class created all the products that were available on Tuesday. He described CAD 2 as being “more with the computers” and tech as being more “hands-on.”

A student in the CAD 2 class, Max said he is “a big tech guy” and that he’d like to continue taking technology classes through his college years.

“I enjoy making stuff. I think my favorite part has to be seeing something made in the computer or seeing something put down on a paper and having the feeling afterwards of, ‘Wow, I just made that off of an imagination.’ It’s kind of like cooking: how you see something online, and you think, ‘Oh, heck, I can make that,’ and you make it. It’s kind of cool how you made it.

“It was cool because we got to use our own wood, cut our own wood. With the computer program, we designed it how we wanted to, and it was cool to see it come to life. The tech class got to do the resin, which is how they got the home logos, and this one has the buffalo in it. They had to have a drill to cut that out.”

A districtwide art show offered color to voters.


The technology wing was part of the school district’s $58 million capital improvement project from 2013-17.

“I love tech,” Max said. “I have two study halls in the morning. I’m down in the tech wing all day. I’d like to thank Mr. Sweet and Mr. Koppmann for giving us the opportunity to make these.”

Board of Education candidates talked about changes they would like to see happen in the school district.

Broeker said, “I’m a huge proponent of career and job readiness skills, so one of the things I’d like to focus on is looking at the electives we offer and making sure we’re doing the best job we can to prepare our kids, not only for college, but also for a career, going right into the workplace.

“I want to increase some of the relationships we have with the surrounding communities and get some more internships and work-based learning opportunities for our students so they can go out, and they can be job ready. College isn’t for everybody. Especially with the cost of it now, it’s always nice to have different opportunities … bring some different perspectives of what people have done or have tried to do in the past or in other districts to guide us and help us make the best decisions.”

Bruno focused on communication: “There are resources available to these students and to the parents. It’s just getting it out there, getting it known to people where those resources are. That’s what I would like to see better through this next term.

“I think this district is beautiful. This district provides beautiful education and resources for its students. The change I’d like to see is the communication to those resources, so people know how to utilize what this district already has in place.

“We should always keep growing and pivoting. It’s never a thing of we need to stop; we’ve done enough. There are always things we can look at. We’re evolving.”

Bruno added, “I’d like to thank my mom. My mom chose Grand Island for us to live, and I am thankful that she brought me here and raised me in such a wonderful district. The reason why I’m here today and running is because of her and the pride that I have in my childhood being here and the pride that I have in this community.”

LaMarca said, “We’re constantly moving to better our school district, whether it’s student-based activities, curriculum, lots of different items. There’s always room for improvement, and there’s always room for change. We’re always open to ideas and suggestions. At this point, we’re really focused on making our schools the best that they can be.”

“I would like to thank our community, our taxpayers, the GITA, my daughter, and you for being out here in the heat!” LaMarca said. “I appreciate your coverage of our meetings. It’s great to have that coverage.”                                                                                                                                                                                                            

LaMarca cited two challenges facing the school district. One is the upcoming electric bus rollout.

“There’s figuring out the state directives when they come down, the mandates, and also how we are going to roll it out and the infrastructure and the cost. Really how is it all going to work? When do we purchase? The deadlines? How do we do it?” she said. “There’s just so much information that we don’t have yet that we need to get so we can work on a game plan with the district to figure that out.”

The second challenge LaMarca described is how to “streamline the budget. That’s something I’ve been vocal on, along with other existing board members.”

LaMarca said being a member of the Board of Education is a rewarding experience: “It’s rewarding when (students) come before us and they tell us where they’re going to college, if they’re going into the military. What they’re going to do after school. To me, it’s one of the most rewarding experiences you can have, and that’s why I keep rerunning. I just love it. I love everything about it.

“We have a great district. We really do. We have great people here.

“I would like to thank our community, our taxpayers, the Grand Island Teachers Association, my daughter, and you for being out here in the heat! I appreciate your coverage of our meetings. It’s great to have that coverage.”

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