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Tuesday’s NY State School Budget Voting: Almost Everyone Wins

After voting Tuesday, it appears 2017 was a great year for the passage of school budgets, according to preliminary reports by New York State United Teachers and the New York State School Boards Association.

This week voters across New York state approved at least 99 percent of school budgets, continuing a recent trend of the past two years. And passage rates back in 2014 and 2013 were 98.2 percent and 95.3 percent, respectively.

Carl Korn is spokesman for the New York State United Teachers:  "Once again, voters across the state showed they have great pride in their public schools and they appreciate the hard work that educators are doing with students across the state. The 99 percent estimated pass rate is very similar to the last few years, and we think it's a vote of confidence. A vote of confidence in public schools and the directions that local schools are taking in educating students."

New York State School Boards Association Executive Director Tim Kremer says 13 districts proposed budgets that exceeded the 2 percent tax cap and 77 percent passed:  "The voters came out and said 'we understand that you're gonna need more money than what the cap would allow. This is a reasonable plan, you've communicated it properly, and we'll support that.' That's the way it's supposed to work."

The Association notes that the average budget passage rate since 1969 is 85 percent. Since the introduction of the tax cap in 2012, the average passage rate for school district budgets is 97 percent.

Of the 573 school budgets reviewed by NYSUT, 570 passed while just three went down to defeat — DeRuyter in Madison County, Pittsford in Monroe County and East Ramapo in Rockland County. 

Among the passed budgets, 72 percent of North Colonie voters approved a $106 million capital project. Capital projects were also approved by voters in Schenectady, East Greenbush, Rensselaer, and Berlin. In addition to approving a new school budget, Albany voters saw fit to green-light the public library's 2018 budget, approving it by a vote of 2,165 to 691.   A library in the Broadalbin-Perth Central School District did not fare as well: a proposition that would have taxed each parcel in the district $1.56 every year to provide a $10,000 annual contribution to Amsterdam Free Public Library went down.

Approval of the Cohoes City School District budget means new a transportation option for secondary students. Jennifer Spring is Superintendent:   "What it gets us is four CDTA buses on three new routes, and they will pick up students going to the middle school and to the high school. Students will have the Swipe cards, so students can use it to go to an internship and we're excited, part of our budget also included a new career coordinator who will co-ordinate internships for our students, so students will be able to use their CDTA bus pass for that. And it's more or less like a smart card. Students can use it in the cafeteria and then they'll also be able to use it on the CDTA bus."

Spring says the service will make a difference for roughly 960 eligible students in grades 6-12. CDTA is timing the bus routes to coincide with arrival and dismissal times at the middle and high schools.

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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