School district voting: Budgets & board races

May 20, 2014

Voters are encouraged to head to the polls Tuesday in school districts across Erie and Niagara Counties to decide on budgets and school board races. With the exception of Buffalo, some 37 school districts in the region will be hold voting.

Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

Most school district are struggling with spending cuts and fearing the quality of education is seriously effected.  But Timothy Kremer, Executive Director of the New York State School Boards Association, tells WBFO News he expects a high passage rate for the school budgets Tuesday.

"I would anticipate that more than 95-percent of those budgets are going to be past o the first go around," noted Kremer. "The reason I say that is because you are going to see tax levy increases that are very minimal. On average, across New York State under two-percent. That magically two-percent number seems to be taking hold in most school districts.  That equates to a spending increase of a little over two-point-six-percent."

97-percent of the districts are taping into their fund balance which totals about one-point-two-billion dollars statewide in order to keep the tax levy down.

Kremer said it is hard to predict how controversy over the Common Core Learning Standards could effect any of Tuesday's voting outcomes.

"I haven't seen that negative public relation campaign against the tax levies -- so I'm hopeful taxpayers and parents can kind of separate those issues -- and know -- we're still going to need the funding in order to provide a high quality public education," said Kremer.

A number of school board races will also be decided in district's across Erie and Niagara Counties.   

"Our job, as school board members, is to make sure that every child graduates college and career ready and we're not backing away from this Common Core. But we want to move forward. We are not interested in a moratorium or rolling backwards," noted Kremer.

Some districts,  such as Niagara Wheatfield also has two propositions on Tuesday's voting ballet; one that would call for the adopts of a budget and a second calling for a reserve fund for transportation.