Almost 96 percent of school budgets passby jmaloni
98 percent passage rate for school districts within tax cap; 30 percent passage rate for districts exceeding cap
New York state voters approved 95.5 percent of school district budgets on Tuesday, according to an analysis by the New York State School Boards Association.
"Residents in communities across this state stood strong once again in support of public education," said NYSSBA Executive Director Timothy G. Kremer. "The high level of voter support for school budgets speaks to the importance of public education. We appreciate the trust that voters place in our school board members and educators."
Initial statewide results gathered by NYSSBA indicate voters have passed 630 school district budgets. The number of budgets defeated was 30 (including Niagara-Wheatfield, Lewiston-Porter and Wilson). NYSSBA was still awaiting results for nine districts.
In the second year of the state's property tax cap, 642 districts, or 96 percent, were within their maximum allowable tax levy increases under the cap and required only a simple majority to pass their budgets. Of those districts, 98.3 percent passed.
Twenty-seven districts, or 4 percent, had budgets that exceeded the tax cap and required a 60 percent "supermajority" to pass. Of those districts, 29.6 percent passed their budgets.
The average budget passage rate since 1969 is 84 percent. More recently, the average passage rate for the past five years leading up to this year's vote is 94 percent.
Schools statewide proposed an average tax levy increase of 2.8 percent for 2013-14, well below the average statewide tax levy limit of 5.1 percent.
The average proposed spending increase for the 2013-14 school year is 2.9 percent, compared to 1.5 percent in 2012-13, 1.3 percent in 2011-12, 1.4 percent in 2010-11, 2.3 percent in 2009-10, and 5.3 percent in 2008-09. The increase was driven in large part by increases in school district pension costs.
In school districts where the budget failed to pass, a second vote may be held on June 18. School boards may forgo a second vote and 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 1,582 vacancies on their local school boards.
"Every year, many dedicated individuals decide to make a difference in their communities and in the lives of children by running for school board," Kremer said.