Voters passed the $283,930,535 City School District of New Rochelle school budget for 2020-2021 in a historic election that was conducted entirely via absentee ballot.
The plan was overwhelmingly approved with a 4,554 - 2,997 vote.
It took election inspectors two long nights to canvas the ballots, thousands of which arrived shortly Tuesday, shortly before the 5 p.m. deadline. They finished tallying the votes at 2 a.m. Thursday and the Board of Education accepted the results that evening.
“Thank you, New Rochelle community, for investing in our children during these difficult and uncertain times,” said Superintendent Dr. Laura Feijóo. “It is gratifying to see support for a budget that will add social workers and teachers, use student-based budgeting to narrow achievement gaps and launch a districtwide STEAM initiative.”
When overburdened printers delivered ballots to homes later than expected in many districts across the state, we were among those who advocated to extend the deadline on mailed-in ballots. Cuomo responded by directing districts to continue to accept those sent in by mail until Tuesday, June 16. The City School District of New Rochelle implemented several measures to help those who for those who received ballots late. The District set up six lockboxes around the community, worked through the final weekend accepting the ballots and made replacement ballots available to those who had lost or had not received them.
The spending plan includes a $2 million equity budget aimed at narrowing achievement gaps and for the districtwide STEAM (Science Technology Engineering Art and Math) initiative. It earmarks $1.3 million for added key positions, the cost of which is partially offset by retirees.
It adds $2.1 million to the capital budget for various projects, including work on theaters and auditoriums around the District, upgraded public address systems, added security cameras and more. The budget also uses $1.6 million from reserves to create this budget at a 0% increase on the tax levy. The budget was designed to absorb an estimated $2.8 million cut in state aid. Cuomo has talked about potential further cuts in state aid but has not yet released any adjustments; any further reduction for New Rochelle would require cuts in the spending plan.
New Board members
Voters also elected to New Rochelle Board of Education members.
Adina Berrios Brooks and Katie Castellano Minaya, the highest vote-getters, will serve five-year terms beginning July 1, 2020.