REGION — Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, votes for school district budgets have been pushed back to Tuesday, June 9 this year, but voters can act only through absentee ballots. School …
REGION — Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, votes for school district budgets have been pushed back to Tuesday, June 9 this year, but voters can act only through absentee ballots. School districts should have already mailed ballots; if a voter has not received one in the mail, he or she may be able to get one by contacting the school district clerk.
According to a mailer sent out by the Sullivan West Central School District, to qualify as a voter a resident must be 18 years old by June 9, have lived in the district for 30 days prior to the vote, be registered to vote in school district elections and have “voted in any school district election/vote during the past four calendar years.”
There is concern about possible mid-year adjustments or cuts this year because of budgeting uncertainties related to the pandemic. Every year, New York gives state aid to all public school districts. This year, the state is looking at a possible $13 billion budget shortfall because of the economic shutdown. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has said, publicly, if federal lawmakers don’t come through with aid for states and municipalities, aid from the state to school districts would be cut by 20 percent.
The Heroes Act, passed by the House of Representatives in Washington in mid-May, would grant $1.1 trillion to state and local governments over the next year. But that bill has been opposed by Republicans who control the Senate, therefore the future of aid to state and local governments remains unclear.
But if state aid is cut by 20 percent, Sullivan West Central School District Superintendent Stephen Walker said the impact would be significant. “Depending upon how a 20-percent reduction was applied, it could mean a reduction of approximately $3.5 million for our district. Needless to say, that would be completely devastating for our school district community, and further underscores the importance of this budget to the future of our schools.”
Eldred Central School District Superintendent Dr. John Morgano said, “Should the governor reduce our aid by 20 percent, we will not likely have to change our current operations significantly. This is due to our preparing a very tight budget. We will only add to our program mandates that we must add, such as a teacher of English as a Second Language/Reading. However, should our budget not pass, significant program reductions will have to be made including loss of early childhood classes and interventions, and increase of class sizes following teacher reductions and loss of athletic programs and reduced transportation for students.”