Pyrrhic Victories in School Budget Votes

ALBANY, NY (05/18/2012)(readMedia)-- Pyrrhic Victories in School Budget Votes

The official statewide school budget results are in and 96.1%, or 654, passed. These results are slightly better than previous years, since the start of the national recession in 2008, where the average passage rate over the past four years has been 93.83%.

"These numbers demonstrate that although the tax cap had a negative impact on school budgets and tax levies, it had minimal impact on the budget passage rate," stated Michael J. Borges, NYSASBO Executive Director.

Of the 53 school districts that sought an override of the tax cap, 34 passed and 19 were defeated. Defeated override votes represent 76% of the total school budgets that failed. More than half of these districts are either rural, urban, or below average wealth districts.

"School boards and their administration should be commended for implementing a very difficult tax cap formula that was overly complicated and difficult to explain to voters," said Mr. Borges.

"Parents were faced with a no-win scenario. They were unhappy with the budget cuts that further degraded their children's education, yet unwilling to vote down the budget, knowing that it would result in even more draconian cuts under provisions in the new tax cap law if it failed a second time," continued Mr. Borges.

The New York State Association of School Business Officials calls upon the Governor and Legislature to enact meaningful education finance reform by implementing procurement changes that allow school districts to piggyback on federal and national consortium purchasing contracts, unshackling school districts from the most onerous aspects of the Triborough Amendment, and bringing state special education mandates in line with federal requirements.

"Although an overwhelming number of school districts won their votes, it was Pyrrhic victory in terms of the losses of educational staff and programs needed to achieve these victories. A few more rounds of these types of budget victories and there will be nothing left of our schools," concluded Mr. Borges