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Chappaqua, East Ramapo, and Newburgh reject school budgets; Clarkstown OKs 4% increase for schools

The Chappaqua Central School District is the only district in Westchester that has denied the proposition of paying more than what the state tax cap allows.

News 12 Staff

May 22, 2024, 4:20 PM

Updated 26 days ago


Three school districts in the Hudson Valley did not pass their proposed budgets on Tuesday.
Chappaqua's proposed school budget for the next year, which was just under $142 million, did not pass. The budget's failure means school administrators will have to devise a new spending plan for voters to approve. The proposed budget included a nearly 3% tax levy increase, which voters found unacceptable.
"I think there's a real sensitivity to taxes, and Westchester is unfortunately one of the highest-taxed counties and school taxes, so not really surprised," said Phil Benza, of Chappaqua.
Chappaqua was one of four Westchester school districts asking voters to approve budgets that exceeded New York state's 2% tax cap. While Rye, Harrison and Scarsdale garnered the required 60% of yes votes to exceed the cap, Chappaqua's budget was defeated by just under 900 votes.
School administrators in these affluent districts, which receive little to no state aid, have struggled with rising costs while adhering to the tax cap. Inflation has exacerbated these challenges. Chappaqua can hold another vote next month with the same plan or a revised spending plan. If that vote also fails, the district will be required to adopt a state-imposed contingency budget. There is a school board meeting scheduled for 7 p.m. where administrators will discuss their next steps.
Results of Newburgh and East Ramapo voting
The Newburgh Enlarged City School District and the East Ramapo Central School District also saw their budgets rejected.
Newburgh's nearly $366 million spending plan was partly necessitated by decreased state and federal funding. The budget called for the use of reserve funds to balance the proposed spending. However, the Newburgh Free Library budget was approved.
Meanwhile, East Ramapo's nearly $332 million budget was also denied. It included a 1.99% tax levy increase—the same increase rejected by voters last year. The budget would have utilized nearly $20 million from reserves.
With these rejections, both districts will need to re-evaluate their budgets and consider alternatives moving forward.
Meanwhile, the Clarkstown Central School District has passed its proposed school budget and proposition. The more than $253 million budget passed with 72% of the vote. It reflects a 4% budget-to-budget increase and a nearly 3% tax increase.
The Capital Reserve Fund 2018 and Capital Reserve Fund 2020 expenditure proposition will fund the balance of floor tile replacement and abatement at Felix Festa Middle School. It will also fund the replacement of the public announcement systems at Clarkstown High School North and South.
Meanwhile, Tamara Bierker was reelected to the Board of Education, and Jason Bass and Yelena Glukhova were elected to the board for the first time. Their three-year terms will begin on July 1.
Result of the vote in Clarkstown
Result of the vote in Carmel
For a complete list of the voting, click here.

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