Statewide, overall school budget passage rate dips slightly to 97.6 percent; Steep decline in override passage rate
98.6 percent passage rate for school districts within tax cap; 50 percent for districts exceeding cap. Reports indicate low to average voter turnout.
CONTACT: David Albert
New York State voters approved 97.6 percent of school district budgets on Tuesday, May 15, according to an analysis by the New York State School Boards Association. That's down slightly from 99.3 percent in 2017.
"School boards and their leadership teams put together budgets that were fiscally restrained yet responsive to the needs of their communities," said NYSSBA Executive Director Timothy G. Kremer. "For example, in response to community concerns about school safety, many school boards allocated funding for school resources officers. At the same time, a state aid increase and use of reserve funds helped the vast majority of school boards stay within the property tax cap. Budget increases were conservative but few layoffs or cuts have occurred."
Initial statewide results gathered by NYSSBA indicate voters passed 653 school district budgets. The number of budgets defeated was 16. NYSSBA was still awaiting results for seven districts.
Schools statewide proposed an average tax levy increase of 2.14 percent for 2018-19.
In the seventh year of the state's property tax cap, 662 districts proposed budgets with tax levies that were within their caps and required only a simple majority to pass. Of those districts, 98.6 percent saw their budgets pass.
Fourteen districts had budgets with tax levies that exceeded the cap and required a 60 percent "supermajority" to pass. Of those districts, 50 percent saw their budgets pass, which is less than the 77 percent passage rate for override attempts last year.
"School districts continue to be heavily reliant on state funding for educational programs," added Kremer. "This year, state education funding increased by $859 million."
The average budget passage rate since 1969 has been about 86 percent. Since the introduction of the tax cap in 2012, the average passage rate for school district budgets is nearly 98 percent.
The average proposed year-over-year spending increase for the 2018-19 school year is 2.61 percent. That compares with an average increase over the previous five years of 2.26 percent.
In school districts where the budget failed to pass, a second vote may be held on June 19. 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.
On Tuesday, voters also filled nearly 1,536 vacancies on local school boards. NYSSBA is studying the results of those elections.
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