media
May 16, 2007

Voters approve 95.5 percent of school budgets

Source: NYSUT Media Relations
Caption: A scene from NYSUT's television ad promoting 'Yes' votes on local school budgets.

ALBANY, N.Y. May 16, 2007 - New York voters signaled strong support for their local public schools, acknowledging continued academic progress and generally lower property tax increases by approving 95.4 percent of school budgets in a preliminary count. If it holds, the pass rate would set the all-time record, New York State United Teachers said today.

In a preliminary tally, NYSUT said voters in 586 of 614 school districts passed their local school budgets, with just 28 rejecting their local school boards' proposed spending plans. Budget results were not available for 58 school districts as of 9 a.m. today.

NYSUT President Richard C. Iannuzzi called the successful voting day "a resoundingly positive message about public education."

"Today's results show that New Yorkers understand that investing in education and children is the right direction for our state. With property taxes less of an issue this year, voters turned out in force to make a wise investment in children and property values, which are closely linked to good public schools," Iannuzzi said.

"Record increases in state aid clearly made a difference. Many school boards were able to maintain and strengthen the academic programs students need while holding down tax increases," he added. "The additional state funds are specifically targeted to research-proven strategies to help struggling students, such as smaller class size and pre-kindergarten programs."

The average property tax levy increased 3.9 percent this year, just about even with inflation, NYSUT figures show.

NYSUT Executive Vice President Alan B. Lubin said in broad swaths of upstate - from the Capital District to Buffalo and up to the North Country - voters overwhelmingly approved local school budgets. Budgets sailed through in the Hudson Valley and on Long Island, which had been trouble spots the past two years.

"Teachers and parents, working as partners with others in their communities, really got the job done this year," Lubin said.

Lubin said thousands of NYSUT members handed out leaflets; made calls from phone banks; planted lawn signs and worked with parents and community leaders in coalitions to pass local budgets. NYSUT encouraged support for school budgets with a $1 million, statewide television advertising campaign.

The 95.44 percent unofficial approval rate tops the 88.7 percent pass rate of May 2006. Voters approved 83.5 percent of budgets on the first vote in 2005; 84.9 percent in 2004 and the all-time high record of 93.7 percent in May 2003.

School budget voting history

Year

Pass rate*

2007

 

2006

88.7%

2005

83.5%

2004

84.9%

2003

93.8%

2002

89.3%

2001

91%

2000

87%

1999

92.7%

1998

93.7%

1997

87%

1996

85%

* First budget vote

Highest pass rate: 93.7 percent in 2003

Lowest pass rate: 66.3 percent in 1978

NYSUT, the state's largest union, represents more than 585,000 classroom teachers and other school employees; faculty and other professionals at the state's community colleges; State University of New York and City University of New York; and other education and health professionals. NYSUT is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers; National Education Association and AFL-CIO.