GREENBURGH, N.Y. – The taxpayers of the Greenburgh Central 7 school district turned down the $57.44 million school budget for the second time on Tuesday. The school budget was reportedly defeated 578-435, a wider margin than the first vote that took place last month.
The budget, which was originally defeated by a vote of 403-398 in May, was resubmitted unchanged – something many said was its downfall. While district Superintendent Ronald Smalls said he expected a larger turnout, the dissenters still outweighed the supporters.
As a result of the vote, the district is now forced to adopt a contingency budget, set at $57.338 million. This budget is said to force Greenburgh Central 7 to suspend impending services, including certain transportation, library renovations and the installation of a new telephone system.
On voting day, June 21, many Greenburgh residents shared their thoughts on the budget's successes and downfalls. Thomas Bock, a former New York State Assembly candidate who was not in support of the budget, stated that many residents were frustrated with the tax increase, which was slated at 5.8 percent.
"When you compare our school district to Westchester and throughout the state, we are paying a higher amount of money and getting lower results,” Bock said. “So why are we paying so much more than everybody else?"
According to Bock, the only way people could obtain the proposed budget in its entirety was by filing a Freedom of Information request. "There's no copy of the budget online, so you can't actually look at it," he said. "I should be able to do that. But at no point do I know what's in the budget except for what they elect to tell me."
The cuts that the district shared with the public – programs, equipment, transportation, library renovations – are the emotional ones, said Bock, whereas the other "intellectual cuts" were not discussed.
Still, parents are now concerned about the quality of their children's education.
"I voted," said Gayle Williams, a supporter of the budget and mother to Woodlands High School students. "[I’m] so disappointed with the paltry turnout and the defeat. Our children will be the losers."
"The children get hurt most by the people who voted that either don't have kids in the schools or their kids have moved on," said Stephen Morton, who has a son at Lee F. Jackson Elementary School. "It's our kids' future. Austerity plans in this day-and-age will hurt our kids more than they help our pocketbooks. We need to stop looking so short on our terms and think long-term."
Did you vote? Do you agree or disagree with the turnout? Are you worried about your child's education?