Three Village Central School District voters spoke loud and clear Tuesday night, overwhelmingly passing an under-the-tax-cap school budget to avoid austerity.
Nearly 69 percent of voters backed the $176.7 million budget with 4,309 "yes" votes and 1,961 "no" votes, an outcome that means big-ticket items such as full-day kindergarten, junior high school athletics and the nine-period day at the high school will remain intact.
"It saves us from $3.8 million more in cuts which would just devastate the district," interim superintendent Neil Lederer said. "So i'm pleased we got this thing done. We have a budget in place, albeit with significant adjustments."
While 57.7 percent of the voters supported the budget in , it wasn't enough to pass the budget, which required 60 percent voter approval because the proposed budget was over the state tax cap.
Tuesday's green light also means the school district can go ahead with its , through which all the district's buildings will be converted to natural gas heat. Voters supported that proposition in May with 65.9 percent approval. However, if the school budget had failed a second time, the district would not have been allowed to get the funds from the community needed for the project.
The passage of the budget is not a win for everyone in the school system. The newly approved budget still cuts 109 full-time equivalent positions, including that parents feel will negatively impact the level of education in those buildings.
Several voters said while they supported the budget on Tuesday, they believed this one should have been the budget presented the first time around. Others said they supported it regardless.
"We're both educators, and we realize a 0 percent budget increase is going to devastate the schools," said Phil Medina, who voted "yes" along with his wife Valerie.
"I think that public education is the best value," said Gilda MacDonald, a 17-year resident. "I don't know how you can afford not to invest in public education."
By the numbers, here's how residents voted:Polling site
750 248 +502 Minnesauke
948 435 +513 Mount
857 279 +578 Nassakeag
728 +281 Totals
4309 1961 +2345