School Boards Association reports that 98.5 percent of school budgets pass; more than three-quarters of override attempts succeed

99.7 percent passage rate for school districts within tax cap; 77.8 percent for districts exceeding cap

FOR RELEASE: May 18, 2016

CONTACT: David Albert
(518) 783-3716 or (518) 320-2221 cell

New York State voters approved an overwhelming 98.5 percent of school district budgets on Tuesday, May 17, according to an analysis by the New York State School Boards Association.

"Despite a near-zero tax cap, school districts managed to put together spending plans that in some cases restored educational programs and services, thanks to a large infusion of state aid," said NYSSBA Executive Director Timothy G. Kremer. "The question is, will the state be able to sustain that commitment going forward?"

"The tax cap may be helping to keep taxes down, but it comes at a cost to our schools, which now need the state to make up for the funding they cannot raise locally," Kremer added.

Initial statewide results gathered by NYSSBA indicate voters passed 655 school district budgets. The number of budgets defeated was 10. NYSSBA was still awaiting results for 11 districts.

In the fifth year of the state's property tax cap, 640 districts proposed budgets with tax levies that were within their caps and required only a simple majority to pass. Of those districts, 99.7 percent saw their budgets pass.

Thirty-six districts had budgets with tax levies that exceeded the cap and required a 60 percent "supermajority" to pass. Of those districts, 78 percent saw their budgets pass, which is substantially greater than the 61.1 percent passage rate for override attempts last year.

The average budget passage rate since 1969 is 85 percent. More recently, the average passage rate for the last five years is 96 percent. Since the introduction of the tax cap in 2012, the average passage rate for school district budgets is 97 percent.

Schools statewide proposed an average tax levy increase of 0.7 percent for 2016-17.

The average proposed spending increase for the 2016-17 school year is 2.1 percent. That compares with average increases of 1.8 percent in 2015-16, 2.6 percent in 2014-15, 2.9 percent in 2013-14, 1.5 percent in 2012-13, and 0.8 percent in 2011-12.

In school districts where the budget failed to pass, a second vote may be held on June 21. School boards may forgo a second vote if they 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 nearly 1,500 vacancies on local school boards.

"Congratulations to all newly elected school board members. You are participating in the most local form of democracy in our system, and will assume a critical role in ensuring that our students are well prepared for the challenges of the future," said Kremer.



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