FOR RELEASE: June 17, 2020
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.