Lyndonville incumbents defeated in bruising election for Board of Education

Photo by Tom Rivers: Patrick Whipple, a former Lyndonville Elementary School principal, is congratulated by a group of Lyndonville teachers after he was announced as one of the winners in today’s election for three seats on the Board of Education.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 21 May 2024 at 9:52 pm

LYNDONVILLE – Three challengers ousted the incumbents on the Lyndonville Board of Education in a bitter contest.

Voters elected Megan Bruning, 365 votes; Patrick Whipple, 364 votes; and George Avery, 324.

They were elected to three-year terms and narrowly defeated the incumbents: Steve Vann, 312 votes; Board President Ted Lewis, 300 votes; and Susan Hrovat, 299 votes.

The incumbents ran as conservative candidates who said they would push back against some of the social pressures gripping many school districts across the country.

The Lyndonville Teachers Association made an unprecedented move in endorsing the challengers and campaigning against the incumbents.

One of the top issues for the teachers’ union was the current board, led by BOE member Steve Vann, was looking at possible significant changes in the health insurance plan that the LTA said would have left teachers with less coverage. Teachers during a BOE meeting last week said many of their current providers wouldn’t be included in the plan.

Vann disputed those assertions, saying the proposed plan would have offered comparable coverage, and even been an improvement for many of the employees at a significant cost savings for the district.

Whipple, one of the newly elected board members, said the bitterness in the election the past three weeks caught him off guard.

“It’s sad because it’s shown some of things I’ve idealized about this community may not be true,” Whipple said about many personal attacks on social media.

Whipple said he wants the public and school community to have a clear understanding of how decisions are reached at the board level.

Lewis, Vann and Hrovat all said during a meet the candidates event last week they are proud of how Orleans County’s smallest school district has high-achieving students in music, sports and academics. Lewis said the board, administration and teachers were all committed to finding a way to offer in-person classes for all students each day of the week during the 2020-21 year. Many other districts were on a hybrid schedule or had students fully remote.

Voters also approved the following:

• The $17,664,583 budget passed with 366 yes votes to 255 no.

• A proposition for funding the local Yates Community Library at $135,316 passed with 385 yes votes to 233 no.