School budget fails; candidates await results

By Alberto Gilman
Posted 5/29/24

The Newburgh Enlarged City School District 2024-2025 School Budget of $360.4 million did not pass on Tuesday, May 21. The unofficial count as of Thursday, May 23, was 988 votes yes and 1,091 no for …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

School budget fails; candidates await results


The Newburgh Enlarged City School District 2024-2025 School Budget of $360.4 million did not pass on Tuesday, May 21. The unofficial count as of Thursday, May 23, was 988 votes yes and 1,091 no for the budget.

“As a result of our proposed budget being defeated, our district has been put in a very difficult position,” wrote Dr. Jackielyn Manning Campbell, Superintendent of Schools in a note published on the district’s website. “I’m writing to share some information with our community about our recent budget vote results. My goal is to be as clear as possible. First and foremost, I would like to highlight that in a community of more than 90,000 residents, only an estimated 2,000 voters (2.2%) determined the educational opportunities for our 12,000 students. It is important to reiterate that every vote matters, particularly in local elections when it directly impacts our children.

“We are disappointed in the defeat of the budget and the negative impacts it will have on our students, especially when one-time, federal funding is ending nationwide. We know our community has questions with regard to how we proceed. Budget oversight is a day-to-day process, it is not a seasonal effort. The proposal put forth to our community is the result of two years of analysis of the goals of our district. When we receive direction from the Board of Education at our next regular meeting, which will be held on Tuesday, May 28, 2024, we will do our best to communicate the next steps more specifically. “

Legally, the Board of Education has three options when a budget is defeated, according to the district’s website.
• Recommend a vote on the same budget on June 18, 2024

• Recommend the Superintendent revise the proposed budget for a vote on June 18, 2024
• Approve the adoption of a contingent budget

Manning Campbell said districts that operate with a contingent budget have very clear New York State Education Department regulations that the district must follow.

You will notice that there is approximately a $4.2M decrease between what was originally proposed and the Contingent Budget, which equates to: $1.5M in administrative costs, $2.4M in program costs, and $250K in capital costs.

In recent years, the district has come under fire from taxpayers for approving pay raises for administrators and for keeping former superintendent Roberto Padilla on the payroll after his departure following a sexual harassment complaint, but the current superintendent warned that the potential for pay cuts is not on the table.

“The district has contractual obligations to all employees. Breaking any contract puts our district in a place to face undo legal ramifications that often result in financial consequences for taxpayers and decrease the resources we can provide to our students.”

Election results
The board of education elections saw 13 candidates on the ballot this year. According to the district, placement on the board is based on the number of votes received and the six candidates who receive the most votes win terms. The candidate who receives the most votes will receive the longest term. The length of the term is based on the number of votes received, in descending order.
The unofficial results of the elections as of May 23, in descending order, are as follows: Christine Bello, 1,150 votes; Mackenzie Bousche, 867 votes; Thomasina Bello, 853 votes; incumbent Philip Howard, 848 votes; Victoria Bousche, 846 votes; Fred Stewart, 833 votes; incumbent Mark Levinstein, 824 votes; Bob Capano, 760 votes; Ray Harvey, 744 votes; Shadé Burks, 616 votes; Tanika McCullough, 590 votes; Nabil Khan, 450 votes and Dennis Grant, 425 votes.

The hopefuls included first-time candidates as well as incumbents. Six seats became available this spring, with two candidates up for reelection and the resignation of four board members in February. The district clerk stated immediately following the election that there was a five-vote difference between the candidate who finished in 6th place – Stewart –and the candidate who finished 7th – Levinstein. Since that time, Stewart’s lead over Levinstein increased to nine votes, due to the counting of 28 outstanding Affidavit Ballots.

Both a special meeting and a regular meeting of the board of education were set for Tuesday, May 28 at 6 p.m.