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State school associations analyze budgets passing in almost 100% of districts

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Wed, Jun 17th 2020 04:40 pm

From New York State United Teachers:

In a strong display of support for public schools, 99% of school budgets are on track to win approval by voters, according to a preliminary analysis by New York State United Teachers. Voters also elected 20 NYSUT members to school board seats in districts across the state, according to returns available Wednesday afternoon.

“Even in challenging times, voters resoundingly made clear that funding public schools at the local level is a top priority,” NYSUT President Andy Pallotta said. “Especially in times of crisis, public schools serve as cornerstones of our communities, providing not just an education but also meals, mental health services and other critical services. Students need our support, and voters overwhelmingly delivered.”

NYSUT reviewed 388 school budget votes and found that 383 passed. Just five were defeated.

A 99% approval rate follows a trend of strong support for public schools, with more than 95% of budgets being passed each year since 2013.

While local support for public schools is a critical part of ensuring students and educators have the resources they need, NYSUT is continuing to advocate for additional action at the federal and state levels to provide additional funding for education amid the COVID-induced economic crisis. In addition to calling for additional federal stimulus funding for public education, NYSUT has joined with unions representing more than 1.5 million New York workers to call for increased taxes on the ultrawealthy to generate new revenues for public services like education.

NYSUT’s local affiliates also were involved in school board races statewide. Some 3,300 volunteers made more than 100,000 phone calls this election season in support of candidates and school budget votes, in addition to the union’s mail and digital efforts.

New York State United Teachers is a statewide union with more than 600,000 members in education, human services and health care. NYSUT is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association and the AFL-CIO.

From New York State School Boards Association:

New York State voters approved approximately 99% of school district budgets on Tuesday, June 16, based on a preliminary analysis of budget vote results by the New York State School Boards Association.

"In the midst of a public health and economic crisis, voters in the state of New York showed how much they value public education by collectively and, in many cases overwhelmingly, supporting their local school district budgets," said NYSSBA Executive Director Robert Schneider. "We are grateful to the public for its strong show of support for education and the valiant efforts of school districts in providing educational services under extremely trying circumstances."

"Now, it is time for state and federal lawmakers to do their part and provide adequate levels of funding for our schools, especially in light of the ‘new normal,’ where reopening schools will require public health protections, additional student supports and other outside-the-classroom functions," he added.

Initial statewide results gathered by NYSSBA indicate voters passed 494 school district budgets. The number of budgets defeated was six. NYSSBA was still awaiting results for 175 districts.

This year’s budget vote and board elections were conducted entirely by absentee ballot, due to the coronavirus pandemic. Voter turnout was considerably higher than in previous years. Anecdotal reports suggest turnout increased by as much as three to eight times compared to previous years.

Schools statewide proposed an average tax levy increase of 2.34% for 2020-21.

Districts that proposed budgets that stayed within their tax levy caps – and thus needed only a simple majority to pass – had a passage rate of 99.6%. Districts with tax levies that exceeded their caps and required a 60% supermajority had a budget passage rate of 63.6%.

The average proposed year-over-year spending increase for the 2020-21 school year is 1.67%. That compares with an average increase over the previous five years of 2.25%.

In school districts where the budget failed to pass, a second vote may be held no earlier than July 9. However, the governor has not yet issued an executive order providing the details and exact date of the revote. 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.

Preliminary budget vote results are based on 500 school districts out of 675.

On Tuesday, voters also filled more than 1,800 vacancies on local school boards.

 The New York State School Boards Association represents more than 670 school boards and more than 5,200 school board members in New York. NYSSBA provides advocacy, training and information to school boards in support of their mission to govern the state's public schools.

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