Voters Reject $20 Million School Bond Proposal in Large Turnout

Residents denied the $20 million bond proposed by the Rye City School District at the polls December 13, by a margin of 306 votes. At approximately 9:30 p.m., District Clerk Elaine Cuglietto read the results to the eager, but soon to be deflated, crowd on hand – 1,777 voted no, and 1,471 yes.

Published December 14, 2011 3:15 AM
3 min read

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bondthumbResidents denied the $20 million bond proposed by the Rye City School District at the polls December 13, by a margin of 306 votes. At approximately 9:30 p.m., District Clerk Elaine Cuglietto read the results to the eager, but soon to be deflated, crowd on hand – 1,777 voted no, and 1,471 yes.

 

bondBy Jim Byrne

 

Residents denied the $20 million bond proposed by the Rye City School District at the polls December 13, by a margin of 306 votes. At approximately 9:30 p.m., District Clerk Elaine Cuglietto read the results to the eager, but soon to be deflated, crowd on hand – 1,777 voted no, and 1,471 yes.

 

“It is disappointing that the bond proposal has been defeated,” said Superintendent Dr. Edward Shine. “The Board and Administration worked hard to keep the bond scope focused on the most urgent challenges, with minimal impact to taxpayers. The Board will discuss future ways to addressing these challenges and will keep the community involved and informed during this process.”

 

The RMS/RHS campus, which would have expanded if the bond passed, was swarmed by voters throughout the day. The 3,248 eligible voters who came out were nearly 2,000 more than the amount that visited the polls for the School Budget in May.

 

The bulk of the bond, which addressed an over-capacity campus and booming District enrollment, consisted of a 12-classroom science building addition, and the recapturing of additional classroom space inside the current building for a net gain of 16. For the average Rye homeowner, the bond impact would have been an additional $47 in 2012-13, and between $301-318 the following four years. Annual tax levy projections, bond scope included, were forecast to increase 5.98, 5.39, 4.32, 3.73, and 3.70% through 2016-17.

 

While tax rates would have equated to a 24% increase over five years, 2% of which was bond-related, the Board placed blame for the rejection on the upstart Committee For Strong Sustainable Schools. Former Mayor Ted Dunn, the group’s de facto spokesperson, was cast as the “Man in the Black Hat”.

 

“It is troubling that in a community like ours, a well-funded campaign of consistent misinformation, distortions, and fabrications was used to undermine our schools,” said Ms. Slack. “Despite the District continuing to correct false statements, those responsible continued to make them, including in expensive mailings, advertisements, and robo calls. Unfortunately, those unable to vote, our children, were the true losers today.”

 

The former Mayor saw the outcome differently.

 

“All the voters I talked to had essentially the same thought,” said Mayor Dunn. “We have lived here many years, we own houses, our school taxes have helped build the current school system, and we want to continue to support a strong school system. But the package proposed to the voters, including the forecasted tax increases, was simply too much.”

 

He added, “We know that the certain improvements need to be made, but our hope is that the Administration and Board will review all their priorities and develop a long-term plan for protecting the school system as a sustainable cost to the taxpayers.”

 

Regardless of the bond vote’s outcome, the Board faces another stark reality. To override the new tax cap in future budget votes, they will need 60% of the turnout to be in favor. That’s a long 15-point swing from December 13’s 55-45 result.

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