On June 17, the Minerva Central School budget again apparently failed to result in the 60 percent “yes” vote result needed to pass it; instead, it received a total of 59 percent yes votes.
On May 20, the first budget had gone down, with 56 percent of district voters giving it a thumbs-up.
Following the June 17 vote, it was determined that the voting machine used by Minerva Central School may have not recorded votes properly, prompting the school to impound the machine. The results of the second budget vote were declared to be unofficial. The Board of Education (BOE) determined that it would hold a special meeting the evening of June 19 to discuss the results of this latest vote.
A crowd of 37 interested citizens attended the board’s special meeting, held in the school’s cafeteria. Superintendent Tim Farrell began the meeting with a summary of the voting numbers from the second vote, speaking about the issue concerning the machine, and then discussing the school’s option to file an appeal of the budget vote results to the New York State Commissioner of Education. Minerva Central School has decided to appeal the results of the vote because of the discrepancy between the total number of voters who used the machine on June 17 versus the number of votes recorded on the machine. The difference was nine, which calls into question the vote’s overall results.
The appeal from MCS will ask for a decision no later than Aug. 1 from the Commissioner of Education regarding the budget vote results.
Farrell pointed out that members of the public should also feel free to file an appeal of the latest budget vote results if they feel the most recent vote was flawed due to the voting machine issue.
Mary Irene Lee, a graduate of MCS, said that she is, “proud of this school, and as am alumnus, I’m willing to put in an appeal.”
The board voted unanimously (the Board President, Dr. Jeff Eager, was not present) to file an appeal – it determined that the voting machine used at the budget revote conducted this past June 17 did not operate correctly and that it wishes to ensure an accurate vote count.
The BOE authorized its attorneys, Girvin & Ferlazzo, to commence an appeal to the Commissioner of Education seeking the annulment of the June 17, 2014 vote, the ordering of a new vote to take place on or before August 1, 2014, and authorizes the Board Vice President to execute and verify any necessary documents.”
The next job of the BOE was to plan for the possibility of a contingency budget situation, whereby $446,000 would have to be cut from the budget to result in a 0 percent increase in the tax levy, as per NYS law. The Board decided to take the path of offering a reduced pre-K through 12 program rather than a plan that would tuition out secondary students to neighboring schools. Farrell indicated that costs to the school of either option would be similar.
Before concluding the meeting, the board decided that it would hold meetings on June 26 at 5 p.m. and then on June 30 at 6 p.m. to discuss how cuts would be made to pare $446,000 from the 2014-2015 budget. Members of the Board indicated that there will be very difficult decisions to be made regarding these cuts.