ALBANY, N.Y. May 21, 2008 - Despite conflicting economic news, New York voters signaled their strong support for public education by adopting 92 percent of school budgets, a preliminary count by New York State United Teachers showed today.
As of 9 a.m., NYSUT said voters in 579 school districts passed their local school budgets, with just 50 rejecting their school boards' plans for how resources would be allocated for students and schools. NYSUT is awaiting budget vote results from 42 school districts. (NOTE: Official results show 92.46 percent pass rate; 625 pass, 51 fail.)
NYSUT President Richard C. Iannuzzi called the successful budget votes "recognition by parents and others in communities across the state that public schools are raising standards and improving achievement."
"The votes - both in favor and against school budgets - also show that taxpayers want a say in how their local schools are run and how their tax dollars are spent," Iannuzzi said. "We believe that parents and other New Yorkers want to continue to make their own decisions about their property taxes and not give up local control over school funding to Albany."
NYSUT Executive Vice President Alan B. Lubin added, "Today's results show that New Yorkers understand the importance of keeping education strong, despite a downturn in the economy. Strong public schools keep communities vibrant and are a wise investment for our entire state," Lubin said.
Lubin noted that in communities across the state, teachers and parents formed coalitions to hand out flyers and make phone calls focusing on local school gains. "Educators and parents are a powerful voice for community schools when they work together," Lubin said.
The preliminary 92 percent "first vote" approval rate is lower than last year's record 95.3 percent approval rate, but above other recent years. In 2006, voters approved 88.7 percent of school budgets on the first try, higher than the 83.5 percent budget approval rate for 2005 and the 84.9 percent of budgets winning passage in 2004. Property tax report cards submitted to the state Education Department show the average tax levy increase contained in the proposed 2008-09 school budgets was 3.26 percent.
Voters adopted most budgets on Long Island, in western New York and the North Country. Areas of concern include districts in central New York and the Hudson Valley.
NYSUT, the state's largest union, represents some 600,000 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.
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