Voters rejected 3 school budgets in Rockland, Westchester. What happens now?

The Journal News looks at the options now left for East Ramapo and the other two districts.

“Voters rejected three school districts’ budgets in Westchester and Rockland counties Tuesday. Now those districts have to make some decisions.

Blind Brook and Elmsford in Westchester, and East Ramapo in Rockland will have to decide whether to make changes to their 2023-24 spending plans − typically by scaling back spending and their proposed tax levy increase − before asking voters to head to the polls for a second time.

Though it rarely happens, districts with failed budgets can revert to a contingency budget, which would freeze the tax levy and limit other spending increases. If a budget proposal is rejected a second time, districts must move forward with a contingency budget.

More:See school election results for Westchester, Rockland, Putnam. Three budgets were defeated

It will be up to each of the districts’ school boards to decide their next move.

All budget re-votes across the state will be June 20. Each district must hold a public hearing on the proposal 7-14 days before the re-vote. 

Of the 671 districts that held budget votes Tuesday throughout the state, only 10 (including Blind Brook, Elmsford and East Ramapo) saw voters reject their budgets, according to The New York State School Boards Association.

A close call in East Ramapo

In East Ramapo, a mere 45 votes stood in the way of a $298.7 million budget plan that carried a 1.99% tax levy. The district has seen more budget defeats than any district in New York over the last decade.

State-appointed monitors for the district have warned it faces up to a $44 million deficit in five years if residents continue to reject spending plans and leave the district operating under restrictive contingency budgets.

The district educates 10,500 public school children, with a growing number of kids who are recent immigrants joining the schools. East Ramapo also provides mandated services, such as transportation, for about 35,000 children who attend private schools, mostly yeshivas that serve a growing Orthodox and Hasidic Jewish population.

Parents who use the private schools have said they shouldn’t take all the blame for budget failures, because turnout is often low among public school parents. Public school activists have said that more and more parents are non-citizens and therefore don’t have the right to vote to support the schools their children attend.

The school board will decide at its next scheduled meeting on June 6 whether the district will put up the same spending plan, or a new one, for a second vote. East Ramapo’s board hasn’t always decided to put up a second budget plan for a vote, but with just a 45-vote margin, a revote of some form is likely.”

Read the complete Journal News coverage here.