June 18 matters: One week to go for budget revotes

Jordan Elysee will be a senior next year in the East Ramapo schools. He has little to look forward to.

“They’ve cut sports. They’ve cut clubs. They’ve cut something every year, it seems,” he said, standing with other students and their parents behind a large banner that said “Save Our Schools.” Jordan is the tallest person, almost in the center, of this photo.

Photo by Kevin Peterman

During the interview, his voice broke when he told me, “All I’ve got left to look forward to is prom.”

I can’t imagine a senior year without clubs, musicals, sports. He’s not kidding. Here’s a link to an article about the cuts the East Ramapo school board had to make when voters said “no” to the proposed budget May 21. Elysee was one of hundreds of East Ramapo students who protested the $452,000 cut from the budget under the new plan that goes to voters next week. Here’s one link to actions that middle school students took to protest cuts to their education.

East Ramapo is one of the 31 districts trying to get budgets passed next week. One district, Marlboro schools in the mid-Hudson region, opted to go right to a contingency budget.

There are three districts submitting budgets that need 60 percent approval under the state’s property tax cap law: Manhasset and North Babylon, both on Long Island, and  Newcomb in the North Country. The links on each district name will take you to more information about the cuts those districts will have to make if they don’t get a 60 percent majority to say “yes” on the proposed budget.

The remaining 28 districts only need a simple majority to pass. You won’t find a link for every district facing a revote in this summary below, but it’s pretty close.

The largest district, with the largest cuts, is the Sachem school district on Long Island. The school board there trimmed just over $6 million to get to the property tax cap. (And, yes, Sachem was one of the districts where a majority of voters said “yes,” but not the 60 percent needed.)

Valley Central schools in Montgomery County cut $3 million to get below the tax cap. As did Baldwin schools on Long Island.

Here’s a link to what Alden schools have cut from the first budget and what they will have to cut if the budget doesn’t pass.

One of the cuts the Briarcliff Manor school board was forced to make was to a “life-changing” BOCES program.

Here’s a link to a Buffalo News report about what’s going on in Clarence schools, where the board cut nearly $2.5 million from the first budget.

Here’s the only link I could find for the Cornwall schools, (where the budget failed with 59 percent yes vote), which doesn’t tell me much. I learned more from a report by NYSUT’s Research and Educational Services that tells me the board cut $315,000 from the second budget.

The formulas for the tax cap law are so confusing. East Quogue trimmed $593,000 from its budget to stay under the tax cap, while Elmira Heights in Central New York only had to trim $93,000. Then there’s the General Brown district in the North Country that did receive some additional state aid to help its second budget try. (That state aid also keeps the district levy under that tax cap, so it will only need a simple majority. That district had a nearly 58 percent “yes” vote for the first try.)

Mount Vernon schools cut jobs and the entire GED program, saving $1.1 million from the first budget, to offer voters a budget that only increases by .8 percent next year.

North Syracuse schools also cut over $1 million from the first budget, eliminating third grade orchestra, professional developers at the district office and teaching assistants and cutting back on supports for students.

Then there is the small, rural Middleburgh district, where $88,000 may not sound like a huge cut, but follow this link to see what cuts already had made there. Even if the budget is approved, there will be no field trips, no BOCES curriculum coordination, no independent internal audit and reductions in other areas.

Six school districts that saw their tax-cap-busting budgets go down last month have found ways not to exceed the cap next week. Therefore, a simple majority would mean a successful passage.

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