Locally, the vast majority of school budgets passed last night. The exceptions were in Mount Vernon, Bedford, Haldane and East Ramapo.
Statewide, more than 92 percent of school budgets passed, according to an analysis by the New York State School Boards Association.
(Photo: Voters cast their ballots yesterday for the East Ramapo School Board elections at the Ramapo Freshman Center in Spring Valley. Courtesy Peter Carr/The Journal News.)
Read on for more from the NYSSBA.
From the NYSSBA….
Based on statewide results available by 9 a.m. Wednesday morning, voters passed 543 school district budgets. The number of budgets defeated was 46. Final results had not yet been reported for another 83 districts. This represents a response of 88 percent.
â€œAcross the state, despite very challenging economic times, a majority of residents cast their vote in support of their local schools,â€ said NYSSBA Executive Director Timothy G. Kremer. â€œFor that, we are very grateful.â€
Positive budget outcomes predominated in every region of the state. Last year, voters approved a record 95.5 percent of school budgets on the ballot, compared to 88.8 percent the yearbefore. Prior to last yearâ€™s record 95.5 percent passage rate, the previous highest approval rate was 93.8 percent in 2003.
Particularly noteworthy this year was the fact that the vast majority of school districts kept their school property tax levy increases low, thanks in part to a record infusion of state aid. The statewide average school property tax levy increase was 3.4 percent, down from last yearâ€™s average of 3.9 percent.
â€œGovernor Paterson and the State Legislature clearly made a commitment to public schools even in the midst of a punishing recession, and yesterday local voters carried out their end of the bargain,â€ Kremer said.
The governor and state lawmakers approved a record $21.5 billion in state aid to education this year, an increase of $1.8 billion over last yearâ€™s state budget levels.
An informal â€œpulse pollâ€ of school board members throughout the state conducted in April by NYSSBA revealed that a majority (66%) of board members planned to use the record increase in state aid to reduce the property tax burden.
â€œSchool boards are grateful for the support of their community, and will work diligently to raise achievement among all groups of students while simultaneously being good stewards of hard-earned taxpayer dollars,â€ added Kremer.
In the school districts where the budget failed to pass on the first vote, a second vote may be held on June 17. School boards may also forgo a second vote and instead adopt a â€œcontingency budgetâ€. Under state law, the contingency budget this year limits spending to 3.36 percent above the previous yearâ€™s budget, though certain areas of spending are exempted.