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Voters rejected Rush-Henrietta schools budget. Now a new proposal is on the ballot Tuesday

Karen DeWitt
New York State Public Radio

Voters head to the polls Tuesday in the Rush-Henrietta School District where next year’s school budget is on the ballot – again.

The initial budget proposal failed to win approval last month by 15 votes. Thus, the re-vote with a modified budget that is $1.3 million less than first one.

Polls are open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.

After the first vote, the school board approved changes that eliminated new positions like a recruitment director and two support staff positions.

“There is not one disposable staff member here,” Superintendent Barbara Mullen said during a recent school board meeting. "And so we wanted to be very thoughtful if we were going to be cutting (positions), that they were as far away from the classroom as we could consider thinking, and then find other ways.”

Other changes to the budget include using a federal grant to pay for some special education teachers. The biggest cost cutting measure involves redirecting about $525,000 worth of reimbursed state aid. Instead of putting it in a reserve fund, the district would use it to offset some of the budgeted spending.

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The latest budget proposal is just over $170 million, which is 5% higher than the current year’s budget. Personnel expenses account for the bulk of spending. Mullen said that, going forward, the community will have to make tough budget decisions.

“We have to be committed to having hard, respectful, honest, fact-filled conversations about what our priorities are,” she said, “and what our shared vision for the next academic generation is.”

School board president Scott Adair said a mix of misinformation and unclear messaging resulted in the rejection. And that the turnout rate on voting day in May was the lowest in five years.

Noelle E. C. Evans is WXXI's Murrow Award-winning Education reporter/producer.