Tomorrow New York State school districts have their annual school budget vote and school board member elections.
For every district in the state (except the Big Five cities), the vote is the culmination of each district’s planning process and the means for the community to select the people who will make district policy and other decisions on behalf of their communities. The budget proposal is the end result of months of study and discussion but it cannot be finalized until the community passes judgment on the work through their votes.
Sadly, typically only five to ten percent of the eligible citizens vote on their school budgets. Lots of people don’t notice or even forget the vote is happening. School elections are non-partisan; board members are unpaid; and board service is not perceived as a stepping stone to other political positions. All of this means that school board budget votes and board elections are not accompanied by the high-profile media onslaught that characterizes elections for other levels of government.
Ideally citizens should be able to act without constant communications prodding them to vote. People should note the district newsletters and calendars that announce the date of the vote, and then make casting a ballot a priority.
If you live in a district with a budget vote tomorrow, find the time to vote. Read your district’s budget newsletter (generally available online if you misplaced yours) and the statements of the people running for the board of education. And then, as an informed citizen, vote.