“East Ramapo voters rejected a $247 million school budget plan by a nearly 2-to-1 ratio, the school board announced late Thursday, the latest setback in a struggling district riven by race and the competing interests of public and private school parents.
The 6,917-to-3,850 vote represented the only budget rejection among 53 school districts in the Lower Hudson Valley counties of Rockland, Westchester and Putnam, and was one of 10 budget defeats among 658 school districts statewide.
The district will decide in the coming days whether to hold another budget vote or adopt a contingency budget, which would require freezing the district’s tax levy and cutting spending.
We are, of course, disappointed that our 2020-21 budget was not approved by our community,” East Ramapo schools Superintendent Deborah Wortham said today.
“We felt that our proposed tax levy increase of 1.3% and plans to maintain all of our award-winning academic programs and services would have been a strong incentive for a widespread voter support,” she added. “Our administrative team will address the next steps and be in communication with our school community very soon.”
This year’s vote was conducted by mail due to stay-at-home restrictions caused by the pandemic.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo has said that school districts that lose their initial budget votes can choose to schedule a second vote at some point after July 9. But he hasn’t set the date yet or said whether votes could be held at in-person polling places, rather than by mail.
At a Thursday night’s Board of Education meeting, board President Harry Grossman voiced support for a new vote.
He was joined by board member Carole Anderson.
“I wasn’t surprised but it’s a shame,” Anderson said. “It really is. The children are the ones who are going to suffer if we don’t get this budget passed because the cuts that are going to be made are serious cuts.”
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