School Budget Votes Overwhelmingly Approved

98.2% Passage Rate Statewide

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Buffalo, N.Y. (WBEN) - School budget votes were overwhelmingly approved across Western New York Tuesday. In fact, 98.2% of school budgets statewide were approved.

"That's in line with what it's been the last few years and fairly predictable since the advent of the property tax cap, which has now been made permanent," said Tim Kremer, Executive Director of the New York State School Boards Association.

At the same time, interest in school budgets and school boards is at an all time low.  Turnout statewide was down 43% from 2011 according to the State Council of School Superintendents. In some districts, decisions were made by fewer than 200 voters.

Kremer says there's a disconnect. "What we have are school budgets that are staying at or below the cap. People understand the cap of 2% is reasonable and there are a lot of uncontested board races where 3 people are running for 3 seats.  There's not a lot of motivation for people to come out," he said.

Some of those who didn't vote argue that they didn't know.  WBEN asked Kremer if the May elections could be moved to the Fall.  "Our fiscal year runs from July 1 through June 30. So we need to know what the state aid is going to be before our fiscal year. That's why the May vote is critical," he said.

Kremer believes it's not the date of the elections, but rather the fact that people are uninformed and people are not paying attention. He doesn't think the apathy would change significantly if the elections were moved to November.

One local school budget that did not pass on Tuesday was at Clymer Central School.  The Chautauqua County School budget was narrowly approved, but not by the 60% margin that was required of voters.  There will be a re-vote on June 18.

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