Ripley Looking At Program, Staff Cuts In Failed School Budget Vote

RIPLEY — The Ripley Central School District failed to pass its 2018-19 school budget of $9,219,270, likely forcing cuts to staff, teachers and programs.

The district took the same 2018-19 school budget proposal that failed in May back to district voters for a revote. It again failed with about 264 votes against and 106 votes in favor. School Board President Bob Bentley had maintained that the proposed budget was needed to operate the district “successfully.”

Voters in the district, however, soundly rejected that plea, forcing the district to use a contingency budget that mirros one from the current 2017-18 school year that includes $200,000 less in funding.

“People need to realize this vote now affects everything we will ever do in the future,” Bentley told The Post-Journal late Tuesday. “This is going to have a huge impact.”

Bentley said the district will be looking at cuts to support staff, teachers and programs. He called the failed vote a “serious situation” for the school district, and noted that the school board and the school’s finance committee will need convene to consider the district’s options.

The first vote in Ripley ended with 91 votes against and 90 votes in favor.

“If the voters didn’t realize there was a clear mandate before, there is certainly a clear mandate now,” Bentley said.

Meanwhile, budgets in Clymer, Westfield and Gowanda passed Tuesday after voters rejected them earlier this year.

Clymer voters overwhelmingly passed its 2018-19 school budget Tuesday by a vote of 325 to 111.

“I think this vote showed a lot of support from the community,” Superintendent Ed Bailey said. “Obviously with the projections we’re going to have a significant increase (in taxes next year), but we’re optimistic that we will get a supermajority of votes with this community.”

Bailey said it was “gratifying” to see the budget pass with much community backing.

The total budget remained the same as the previous proposal at $11,561,554. But the new proposed tax levy of $4,283,832 was decreased by $357,192, the initial amount over the state-allowed tax cap of 4 percent. The total budget is up 2.4 percent from the 2017-18 school year.

The Westfield Academy Central School District passed its 2018-19 budget 581 to 267. The budget totalled $16,472,418, a reduction of $243,616 from the previously proposed budget of $16,716,034. In May, district residents voted against the proposed school budget 295 to 196.

Westfield residents also approved a proposition regarding school bus purchases at a maximum cost of $70,000. The district voted 624 to 220 to approved the proposition.

The Gowanda Central School District approved its 2018-19 school budget with 406 in favor and 170 against. The new proposal totalled $31,346,171 a $100,023 difference from the previously proposed budget of $31,446,194 that failed with district residents voting 442 against and 391 in favor.