School District Votes: Check your proposed district spending, tax hike numbers here

May 15, 2018

It is school district budget voting Tuesday across New York State, with a range of spending proposals, school board candidates and capital budget proposals being put to the voters for their approval.

Four Western New York school districts - Eden and Lakeshore in Erie County, Clymer in Chautauqua County and Alfred-Almond in Allegany County - are asking voters to approve a budget that exceeds the state property tax cap. Those districts need 60 percent of voters to approve their plan, rather than the simple majority of voters required in other districts. 

In Western New York, there are 122 candidates running for 97 open school board seats and several districts expect write-ins because they have more positions open than candidates. According to the New York State School Boards Association, 21 incumbents - or 20 percent of local candidates - chose to not run again.

The tax levy is up an average of 2.14 statewide and 1.48 percent in Western New York,  according to a WBFO analysis of numbers submitted by each district to the state Education Department. 

The district by district analysis also shows statewide spending is up 2.61 percent on average across New York, and  up 2.49 percent in Western New York ballots being voted on today. 

WHAT IS YOUR DISTRICT PROPOSING?  Check out the county-by-county rankings in the slide show at the top of this page.  Click on the classroom photo to browse and find your district

Superintendents point to a flaw in the state tax cap system and say that the tax levy alone  --especially in any one year --  is not however a valid indicator of where a district stands.   

East Aurora for example is asking for Erie County's highest tax levy increase on today's ballot, but Superintendent Brian Russ says spending and taxation should be viewed over the course of several years. 

"We have lost millions of dollars over the last several years," says  Russ,  who is in re-building mode after losing more than 30 teachers in past budgets, due in part to the gap elimination adjustment.

The adjustment took a portion of the state budget deficit in 2010 and distributed it across the state aid formulas that year, resulting in drastic state aid cuts that many districts are still compensating for years later. 

"We are trying to plan for three years. We know there will be challenges this year and the next and we hope it will level off next year," Russ said. 

Other Findings:

Tax Hikes in Erie County: 

  • Largest: East Aurora 5.49 percent
  • Smallest: Lackawanna 0.75 percent decrease

Spending in Erie County:

  • Largest increase: Springville 5.38 percent
  • Smallest increase: Holland 0.99 percent

Largest Spending Increase in NYS: Salamanca

  • Total proposed spending: $37, 141,536
  • Spending change: 16.09 percent
  • Proposed tax levy: $250,000
  • Tax levy change: 78.31 percent
  • Enrollment change: 6.23 percent

Largest Spending Cut in NYS: Dansville Central Schools

  • Total proposed spending: $31,264, 658
  • Spending change: 8.10 percent
  • Total proposed tax levy: $8,343,107
  • Levy change: 1.79 percent
  • Enrollment change: 4.25 percent

Largest Tax Levy Increase in NYS: Barker Central

  • Total proposed spending: $17,057,539
  • Spending percent change: 0.24 percent decrease
  • Total proposed tax levy change: 45.87 percent

Smallest Tax Levy Increase in NYS: Salamanca

  • Total proposed spending: $37, 141,536
  • Spending change: 16.09 percent
  • Tax levy change: 78.31 percent decrease
  • Proposed tax levy: $250,000