Q: How do I vote?
A: Because of the covid-19 pandemic, per Executive Order No. 202.26 (signed by Governor Andrew Cuomo on May 1), all school budget votes and board elections in New York State this year are ordered to be conducted via absentee ballot. That means all eligible voters will receive a ballot in the mail to complete and return instead of being required to visit a polling location to cast their vote.
Q: Did I need to request an absentee ballot in order to receive one?
A: No, for this election and budget vote, all eligible voters were automatically sent a ballot. (For the New York State June 23 primary, you are required to complete and send an absentee ballot application in order to receive an absentee ballot.)
Q: My ballot hasn’t arrived yet. What do I do?
A: If you are an eligible voter and you still haven’t received your ballot in the mail with your June 3 delivery, please reach out to District Clerk Nelly Valentin: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q: Who is an eligible voter for this election?
A: If you have already registered and voted in an election in the previous four calendar years, you will be mailed a ballot. All other qualified voters must register. Per TUFSD’s legal notice: “A qualified voter is one who is (1) a citizen of the United States of America; (2) 18 years of age or older; and (3) a resident of the School District for 30 days preceding the annual vote and election; and (4) not otherwise prohibited from voting under the provisions of Section 5-106 of the Election Law.” A qualified voter may register to vote via the Westchester County Board of Elections or the New York State DMV.
Q: When is my ballot due?
A: You may return your completed ballot by mail using the enclosed pre-paid envelope OR drop it in the secure ballot box located on the outside wall next to the main entrance (rear of the building) of the TUFSD administration building at 200 North Broadway in Sleepy Hollow (building between the SHHS/SHMS campus and John Paulding School). All “hand-delivered” ballots are due to the TUFSD district clerk by 5 p.m. on Tuesday, June 9. The ballot box will be removed at 5 p.m. on June 9. Ballots will be accepted via mail delivery through June 16. If you chose to mail back your completed ballot, PTA recommends you do so no later than Thursday, June 11, to ensure it is received on time to be counted.
Q: I am not home right now to receive my absentee ballot in the mail and return it in-person (June 9) or via mail (received by June 16). Is there any other way I can vote?
A: No, voting for this election is by absentee vote only as per Executive Order No. 202.26.
Q: How many seats are open on the Board of Education (BOE) this year? Who is running for them?
A: The terms of two trustees, Arturo Almanzar and John Paine, expire June 30, so there are two trustee positions open in this election. John Paine is running again, but Arturo Almanzar is not. There will be only one other candidate listed on the ballot, Deb Taylor. Another individual, Cecelia Gordon, has launched a significant write-in campaign. Trustees serve for three-year terms.
Q: I received my ballot, but I’m not sure how to fill this out so it will be counted.
A: You will receive three items: a ballot (two-sided: one side in English and one in Spanish), an oath envelope, and a return envelope with pre-paid postage. Read all of the instructions on all of the items before you get started. Then, fill in your ballot. Be careful to not make any stray marks and to clearly mark your choices (x‘s or check marks). Place your ballot inside the oath envelope, seal it, and sign and date the front. Turn the oath envelope over and fill-in the applicable additional information on the back. Place the oath envelope inside the mailing envelope and mail ASAP (PTA recommends by Thursday, June 11) or drop it in the secure ballot box located on the outside wall next to the main entrance (rear of the building) of the TUFSD administration building (200 North Broadway in Sleepy Hollow, between SHMS and JP) before 5 p.m. on June 9.
Q: What happens if the budget fails?
A: Realistically, there is not sufficient time to re-write the budget and hold another vote by the required date of June 30. The district will be forced to enact a contingency budget, which translates to $1.8 million in budget cuts. Those cuts will inevitably affect teachers and staff, class sizes and programs. Many other costs (insurance, etc.) are fixed and cannot be cut.
Q: If the budget passes, will my taxes go up?
A: Both residents of Town of Greenburgh and the Town of Mount Pleasant would see tax rate increases that are below tax levy cap requirements. Greenburgh residents would see a 1.53% tax rate increase, and Mount Pleasant residents would see a 2.98% increase. The difference in percentage is due to differences in how the towns assess property values. After the budget passed last year, Greenburgh residents saw a 0.39% decrease, and Mount Pleasant saw a 0.31% increase.
Q: What new things are included in the budget this year?
A: Please refer to the third (“Budget Highlights”) and fourth slides of this budget overview presentation. Please note 1.0 kindergarten teachers and 1.0 TA positions are not being filled this year after retirements. The budget introduces 1.0 network specialists and 0.5 of a special education teacher, as well as hourly bus aides for morning runs to W. L. Morse School and a courier (restricted use) for the school lunch fund. This budget takes forward (though necessarily modest) steps in many of the areas in which Horsemen PTA has actively advocated for our children this year and in previous years (literacy, cultural responsiveness, travel safety, appropriate access to technology, improvements to the writing curriculum, social-emotional wellbeing, enhanced student athletic experiences).
Q: Where can I see the full budget?
A: A budget card was mailed last week. Here is the page on the district website that consolidates all budget information.