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Snow Moon over North Hill by Cindy Schreiner

School District Votes Enjoy Wide Support


Michael T. Baldwin Reports

New York voters approved 99.2% of school district budgets on Tuesday, May 18, according to preliminary results compiled by the New York State School Boards Association.

“We appreciate the many who turned out – in person or by absentee ballot – to approve local school budget proposals and elect school board members this year,’ said NYSSBA Executive Director Robert Schneider. “The high passage rate for proposed budgets is a welcome endorsement of spending plans that will strengthen our educational programs and restore some of the academic and student support services that were curtailed by the pandemic.”

Schneider added, “In particular, these budgets will enable our districts to move forward with restoration and enhancement of many important social-emotional support and learning initiatives, including music and art, athletics, and other academic enrichment plans. Thanks to record levels of state aid and an infusion of federal stimulus funding, our school districts will be able to make these critical investments while keeping tax levy increases very low.”

Initial statewide results gathered by NYSSBA indicate voters approved 660 school district budgets, while five were defeated. Schools statewide proposed a modest average tax levy for 2021-22 that was just 1.3% higher than the current year’s. Ten budget results were unavailable at the time this release went out.

A decade after the state’s property tax cap went into effect, 654 districts proposed budgets with tax levies that were within their caps and required only a simple majority to pass. Of those districts, 99.7% saw their budgets pass.

Twenty-one districts had budgets with tax levies that exceeded the cap and required a 60% “supermajority” to pass. Of those districts, 85.7% had their budgets approved, which is significantly higher than the previous nine-year average under the tax cap of 59.2%.

The average budget passage rate since 1969 is 86.4%. Since the introduction of the tax cap in 2012, the average passage rate for school district budgets is 98%.

The average proposed year-over-year spending increase for the 2021-22 school year is 2.73%. That compares with an average increase over the previous nine years of 2.2%.

In school districts where the budget failed to pass, a second vote may be held on June 15. If the budget fails a second time, the board must adopt a contingency budget. Under state law, a contingency budget requires zero percent growth in the district’s tax levy.

On Tuesday, voters also filled some 1,501 vacancies on local school boards.

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