Revised School Budget Passes With 73% of the Vote

by Judy Silberstein

JUNE 19, VOTE RESULTS

YES

NO

TOTAL

Central

769 (70%)
326 (30%)
1095

Chatsworth

1062 (78%)
297 (22%)
1359

Mamaroneck

390 (58%)
283 (42%)
673

Murray

1250 (78%)
347 (22%)
1597

TOTAL

3471 (73%)
1253 (27%)
4724

(June 19, 2007) Mamaroneck School district voters turned out in large numbers and overwhelmingly approved the revised school budget on Tuesday, June 19 by a margin of almost 3 to 1. A majority of voters in each of the four elementary school districts supported the budget, a complete reversal from May 15 when the original budget was defeated in each district. (See: Mamaroneck School Budget Defeated by 61% of Vote.) There were almost two thousand more ballots cast for the second vote, and turnout was considerably higher than for any vote in the past eight years. (See: 1999-2007 Vote Results.)

Announcing the vote Tuesday night was a visibly relieved Mamaroneck School Board President Cecilia Absher. She and Superintendent Paul Fried thanked the crowd outside the superintendent's office. Both credited the result to hard work by the board, staff and parent groups. "This shows the amazing power parents have to go out and educate the community," said Ms. Absher.
Board President Cecilia Absher reads the results to applause by Special Education Director Peter Berendt, Assistant Superintendent Rosemarie Coletti and Superintendent Paul Fried.

The revised 2007-2008 budget totaled $110,415,652. That was 6.30% larger than last year's budget but $1.57 million less than the budget defeated on May 15. Taxes will increase by 4.79% as compared to 6.45% for the original budget. To lower the total, the School Board removed a controversial administrative restructuring plan that would have added 5 content directors and made cuts deemed unlikely to impact classroom function.

Had the revised budget been defeated, the district would have been required to adopt a contingency budget by July 1. That would have forced an additional $2.6 million in cuts and would probably have entailed an increase in class size and reduction in teacher positions.

Big Turnout & No Organized Opposition

"This was the highest turnout since 1993 when 4917 voters turned out and there was an active taxpayers group that organized against the budget," said schools spokesperson Joan Rosen.

BUDGET VOTE RESULTS: 1999-2007*
  YES NO TOTAL
2007- 2008 Revised
3471 (73%)
1253 (27%)
4724
2007- 2008 Original
1064 (39%)
1666 (61%)
2730
2006 - 2007
1446 (61%)
929 (39%)
2375
2005 - 2006
2095(61%)
1336(39%)
3431
2004 - 2005
1520 (51%)
1444 (49%)
2964
2003 - 2004
1381 (66%)
713 (34%)
2094
2002 - 2003
1146 (67%)
555 (33%)
1701
2001 - 2002
1967 (70%)
842 (30%)
2809
2000 - 2001
1397 (69%)
637 (31%)
2034
1999 - 2000
1472 (68%)
692 (32%)
2164

*Counts in original articles may be unofficial tallies and may differ by a few votes from those here.

Voter turnout was boosted, undoubtedly, by a collaborative effort between the Parent Teacher Associations (PTAs), the Mamaroneck Teachers' Association (MTA) and an ad hoc community group, Education First. The MTA had taken no official position on the first budget but had opposed the administrative restructuring plan. (See:Administrative Plan Draws Parent Support, Teacher Opposition.)

In addition to meetings at each school, budget supporters used flyers, emails, buttons, posters and get-out-the-vote telephone calls to muster their ranks. Joining the effort on the day of the vote was a group of high school students who posted themselves at the train stations to remind commuters to vote and urge them to support the budget.

students for vote
MHS sophomores were at the Larchmont train station on the morning of the vote. Photo by Jeremy Burr.
"It's been a huge effort," said Lisa Senter, president of the PT Council. "A lot of people have been working to get the word out and educate people about the revised budget."

The energetic campaign by budget supporters was met, this time, by almost total silence from any opponents. There was no organized opposition to be seen and no repeat of the anonymous, last-minute anti-budget flier that probably contributed to the toppling of the first budget.

The lack of dissent, however, was not completely reassuring to the PTAs. "Save your [Vote "Yes"] buttons for next year," recommended parent activist Lori Brandon.