Voters react to Niskayuna’s school budget failing

NISKAYUNA, N.Y. – Out of the 5,638 people who went to the polls Tuesday night, 3,154 of them voted “no” to Niskayuna Central School District's budget proposal that would have included a 5.76 percent tax levy increase.

As one of just 30 to be rejected by voters across the state, the Board of Education must now go back to the drawing board, leaving some residents worried about the possible cuts to come.

“Am I crazy about paying more taxes? No,” Sarah Erickson said. “But because I value the education that my children are getting at Niskayuna, my family was willing to pay more.”

Compared to other budget vote numbers across the region, 5,638 was a large turnout in the district that now faces some major reductions.  In the end, 55 percent voted down the 76 million dollar budget, which included a tax levy increase above their property tax cap.

“I want to see this school district stay just the way it is,” John Sharkey said. “Obviously we would all like to save some money, but at the cost of the children? The answer is no.”

Though Niskayuna voters rarely reject school budget proposals, some voters said the tax increase in this year's proposal was just too high to approve.

“My reasoning is because of the amount of taxes that we already pay,” Beth Fenton said. “It's unbelievable.”

Those who voted the budget down say it's not because they don't value education.

“I believe in education, I believe in the kids,” Joyce Corcoran said. “But speaking as a senior who is self-supporting, we can't afford to pay that in property tax.”

In a statement, the district superintendent said, “We understand the desire for tax restraint and, at the same time, we know how much our community values its schools and programs for children. We take these results seriously–we are listening.”

Board of Education President Deb Oriola said she and her colleagues will now begin discussing a revised budget at or below a tax levy increase of 4.66 percent.

“The community has spoken and the school board and administration understands the concerns,” Oriola said. “We look forward to hearing what they've written in the exit polls so we have a better understanding.”

Board members will be meeting next Tuesday, May 28, to publicly discuss what their budget plans are next.

A re-vote will take place on June 18th.

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