State Needs to Find a Way to Schedule Second School Budget Vote

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It’s a significant challenge to run an election or even a vote on one proposition in the middle of a pandemic.
The state has postponed the March village elections, the April presidential primary and the May school board elections and budget vote, all to different dates, presumably to get past the surge of COVID-19 cases.

While all of those elections have been rescheduled, there seems to be no rush or even the slightest inclination to have a date for a second school budget vote, something that has been routinely done.

Maybe that’s because in recent years, with a roaring economy and a cap on tax levies, school budget votes have almost become non-events. Last year, 98.4 percent of budgets in the state’s roughly 700 school districts were approved by voters, according to the New York State School Boards Association.

But 2020 is far different, with a shut down economy, unemployment at nearly 15 percent – and growing – and many districts having engaged in preemptive cuts in anticipation of reduced school aid.

With those factors, there is a greater chance of defeated budgets; therefore, districts must have a chance to make adjustments before going to a contingency budget, something that would devastate a district faced with that prospect.

The overwhelming majority of school budgets will pass when the votes are tallied on June 9. For those that don’t, a July 7 or July 14 vote should be scheduled, even if it’s a week or two after the new fiscal year starts. It could mean the difference between quality education and a ravaged school district.

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