Poll: Board Members Expect Low Voter Turnout
20 Percent Drop in Votes Cast Since Imposition of Tax Cap in 2012
An overwhelming majority of school board members (88 percent) believe voter turnout in this year's school budget vote and school board elections will be at or below previous years, according to a poll by the New York State School Boards Association.
Only 12 percent think voter turnout will be higher than usual.
The survey results are consistent with recent voting trends. The number of votes cast has steadily decreased in each of the three years since the state's tax cap was introduced in 2012. Overall, the number of votes cast has decreased nearly 20 percent since the first year of the tax cap.
"For the fourth straight year, school boards have worked diligently to craft budgets that remained within their tax caps," said NYSSBA Executive Director Timothy G. Kremer. "These fiscally responsible budgets have removed some of the drama that we've traditionally seen on budget voting day. Nonetheless, voters should exercise their fundamental rights and show up at the polls on Tuesday."
In addition to school budgets, voters will be deciding school board races across the state. Kremer noted that voter participation will have a significant impact on these elections at a time when boards are facing many complex and costly decisions.
"With so many significant issues – such as teacher and principal evaluations, student assessments, and school receivership – under discussion this year, school board elections have never been more important," said Kremer.
Despite recent increases in state aid to school districts, the poll also found that more than half (51 percent) of board members believe their districts' revenues from both state aid and local property taxes fell short of their budgetary needs this year. A little less than 46 percent said their revenue from state aid and property taxes combined is sufficient.
Poll results are based on an informal poll of 612 board members conducted May 15 through May 18.