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Voters reject Ithaca City School District budget, additional proposals

Ithaca High School
Aurora Berry
None of the Ithaca City School District’s ballot propositions passed this year.

All three propositions on the ballot for Tuesday’s Ithaca City School District budget vote and school board election failed, including a $10 million increase to the budget.

Around 70 percent of voters cast a ballot in opposition to the proposed budget, which some property owners said was an undue burden on taxpayers.

Some school board members and the Ithaca Teachers Association argued the increase in spending was essential to maintaining the district’s standards for education.

At a Wednesday finance meeting, long standing school board member Eldred Harris said the budget’s failure will have disastrous consequences for the district.

“It seems like we were hijacked last month by a particular group of individuals,” he said. “I am not sure they have this community's best interests in mind. They have their pocket’s best interests in mind.”

Harris added that opponents of the budget are going to have to deal with the consequences of lower funding.

“So you can’t ask me to feel any type of sympathy for this group. We've all made our bed. We're going to lie in it.”

Harris lost his own seat on the school board in Tuesday’s election.

Officials discussed options for next year's budget.
Aurora Berry
Officials discussed options for next year's budget.

Now, the school board will bring another budget proposal to a vote on June 18.

Officials discussed three possible options for the future budget.

The first option is based on the CPI, or Consumer Price Index, and would see a 4.1% increase in the budget from the previous year. This proposal has the highest tax levy and would require 60 percent voter approval to pass.

The second option, based on New York’s tax cap, would increase the budget by 2.9% and would only need a simple majority to pass.

The third option is a contingency budget, which would keep tax levies the same in the district. There is no vote required to adopt a contingency budget.

If the second attempt at a budget doesn’t pass after the June vote, the district will have to fall back on a contingency budget. The board would have to create a budget within those funding parameters.

The district says the contingency budgetcould include cuts to extracurricular activities, field trips, athletics and student supplies.

There were two additional proposals on the ballot that failed. Proposition 2 would have funded the purchase of electric school buses and other vehicles.Proposition 3 would have authorized a bond for updates to district facilities.Both garnered more support than the budget.

Around 56% of voters rejected propositions 2 and 3.

The propositions were separate from the overall budget, and would have drawn funding from bonds and the district’s capital reserve fund.

Three positions on the school board were also up for election.

Only one of three incumbents, Adam Krantweiss, kept his seat on the board. The two additional seats went to newcomers Emily Workman and Todd Fox.

Both Krantweiss and Workman were endorsed by the Ithaca Teachers Association. Incumbents Moira Lang and Eldred Harris lost their elections.