TODAY'S PAPER
Good Morning
Good Morning
Long IslandEducation

After failed vote, Three Village district moving toward contingency budget

Setauket Elementary School is part of the Three

Setauket Elementary School is part of the Three Village school district. Voters shot down the district's budget proposal on Tuesday. Credit: Newsday

Budget season has been rough for Three Village, the only school district on Long Island this year to twice fail in attempts to win voter support of identical spending-and-tax plans.

Three Village's proposed $222.6 million budget would have raised spending 1.75% and taxes 1.85%. Since the plan exceeded the district's state-assigned tax cap, it required a 60% voter majority to pass.

In a Tuesday revote, residents rendered their final verdict: 3,211 ballots marked "no" and 2,027 marked "yes."

Three Village emerged as one of only two districts in the state to suffer two consecutive budget defeats, according to the New York State School Boards Association. The only other district striking out twice was Carmel in the lower Hudson Valley.

Three Village had said a second rejection would result in adoption of a contingency budget that would freeze taxes for a year and possibly result in modest increases in class sizes and in reductions of elective courses. A meeting on that issue is set for July 7.

"While disappointed in the defeat of the proposed budget, the district respects the voice of the community and the voter response received at the polls," Three Village said in a statement released after its vote count.

Elsewhere across the region, results were more favorable. Bridgehampton, Northport-East Northport and Wantagh all passed their budgets in revotes Tuesday after officials in those systems trimmed spending increases, taxes or both.

All four districts lost initial votes in May.

In the initial May round of voting, Three Village came close to its goal. The "yes" vote then was about 58%, just short of the 60% needed.

But as the revote date approached, signs appeared that the district might be in trouble. At a June 2 public hearing, more than a dozen residents lined up to register objections to the district's handling of its budget and other issues.

"People in this community are tired of taxes rising every year with no improvement in education," said Marlo Dombroff, one of the speakers and the parent of two students. "People are leaving here, because it's not affordable and they're not getting value for their money."

As the hearing closed, Superintendent Cheryl Pedisich told a Newsday reporter that she understood what critics were saying.

"I think the message was very clear to us that people want more transparency, and we invite that," Pedisich said.

Underlining that point, the district held a second hearing the following week in a larger meeting hall, where dozens of residents raised questions and complaints.

Latest Long Island News