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Rye City School Bond Referendum Defeated

In a vote of 306 votes, Rye City residents defeated a $19.9 million school bond referendum.

At 9:50 p.m., the Rye City School Board of Education certified the defeat of the $19.9 million referendum. With a 306 vote margin– 1471 Yes votes and 1777 No votes, the monies which the board had hoped would be directed toward the construction of new classrooms and renovation of existing facilities would not be forthcoming 

Before adjourning the meeting to certify the election's results President Laura Slack made a statement which included the following remarks:

"Although the board is disappointed...Our challenges have not changed ...Unfortunately, those who could not vote, our children, are the true losers tonight."

Slack expressed her frustration that a well-mobilized campaign of what she charactized as misinformation had been directed toward defeat of the bond.

Bill Pearson December 14, 2011 at 04:21 AM
This is a shame, for Rye and for its children. The group that lobbied so actively to defeat this bond, and that so grossly misrepresented the situation, should be ashamed.
Elizete Groenendaal December 14, 2011 at 05:17 AM
This is very disappointing. Like many, we moved to this community because of its school system and value of education. This vote makes us wonder if we've made the right choice. It is a loss-loss situation, for our children and our investment.
Rob Moore December 14, 2011 at 05:34 AM
This is not disappointing at all.. Rye children are our treasure, for sure, but have more then an adequate facility. We must consider the Rye Seniors that made us a great town that are now on fixed incomes. This is a hit--to them, and it hurts--NO DOUBT. Frankly all of us that pay high taxes that give us an unbelievable community are in full support of all of our kids getting a quality of education unmatched nationwide. Yet, make it work with the most generous budget you have Rye, we are all struggling, so try to understand why we turned this down. Go Garnets---
Bob Zahm December 14, 2011 at 05:52 AM
To the extent that the vote reflects the lies and misinformation spread by former Mayor Dunn and his Committee, it is a crime. To the extent that the vote reflects tax payers reacting to the forecasted tax increase of 25% over 5 years (of which the bond would have made only 2%), it was either gross ignorance or an attempt to send the BoE a message about spending growth without recognizing how much comes from Gov Cuomo and the state legislator's unfunded mandates. To the extent that the vote reflects believing that the District’s forecasted enrollment growth is leveling off, it is a vote of denial. The kids are here. More are coming. We need the classroom space. Voting down the bond doesn’t change these facts. Hopefully the Board will have the patience and forbearance to develop an alternative proposal that more closely aligns with classroom needs and less with building for potential 3rd floor additions and “spruce ups” of support space. But equally hopefully, the community of “Nos” will engage in the development of another bond instead of waiting until the “virtual concrete” has been poured during Board meetings in which only “we need more”; “add more facilities”; “give us blackbox theater space”; etc. are heard. If you voted “No”, you owe it to the community to come back and propose constructive alternatives. The needs are real.
Rob Moore December 14, 2011 at 06:06 AM
Bob, I do not know who Mayor Dunn is, and I did not receive a call or email from anyone, one way or another. Nor do I believe the NO voters did. I simply am a taxpayer that knows a lot of seniors and individual taxpayers and we cannot continue to raise our tax base for multiple reasons. There is a time and place to say we simply do not have the money to spare, PERIOD. Obviously, the vote has clearly spoken.
Committee for Election Equality December 14, 2011 at 08:24 AM
I would ask the Board of Education to come back with a revised proposal for new science labs only; surely the "No" voters may see the wisdom of a rigorous curriculumn in this regard.
Brook Packard December 14, 2011 at 12:20 PM
Before Ed Shine retires perhaps he and the School Board can come up with solutions more creative than spending money. Sadly, Rye's children have been on the losing side for years due to the District's and the PTO's emphasis on external things instead of cultivating real skills that support social cognition, creativity, and self reliance. If those qualities were tested in our schools, Rye would be on the bottom tier. It will be difficult to re-direct the pattern of the RCSD but well worth it for the sake of the next generation. What the Board sees as a loss thinking educators and parents see as a gain. Hard times have removed the crutch of money.
sp December 14, 2011 at 12:47 PM
Those Rye seniors are going to start being disappointed when it comes time to sell their houses. What keeps our prices high is to a large degree the great schools. Start shortchanging them, and people will start looking toward other districts when it is time to move!
ACC December 14, 2011 at 02:08 PM
Rye's science programs are rated 38th in the country WITH THE EXISTING FACILITIES. Paying $1.6 million apiece for 12 new labs is a non-starter. Let's refurbish the existing facilities, fix the mechanicals, and continue to place our graduates in the best colleges and universities in the country!
tedc December 14, 2011 at 02:42 PM
Try again RCSB. Your NEEDS are NOT a citizen duty. And when are school taxes going down? Isn't that what your Osborn Home treasury raid was supposed to assure?
Paul Tillotson December 14, 2011 at 03:25 PM
What a shock when economic reality arrives ! The school district administration will have to join other communities around the world in using some creativity in securing what is " necessary " rather than " desirable " & resist the temptation of reaching for the Communal Credit Card when funds are not easily to hand. It is the philosophy of not living within it's means which has produced the current economic global mess & it is about time that people living within the illusory Rye Bubble of unquestioning entitlement woke up.
RyeDad December 14, 2011 at 03:32 PM
If it is true that the RCSD has $15,000,000 in reserves why aren't our taxes coming down? Why are we still being overtaxed? Why did the School Board allow Shine to resign/retire effective a year from now? This is absurd. I think his lame duck status had a lot to do with this bond being voted down.
Dick Hubert December 14, 2011 at 04:11 PM
For Blind Brook School Board member Jeff Diamond's take on the Rye vote, a vote that carries enormous significance for the Blind Brook District, please view his blog at: http://freezethebudget.wordpress.com/
Emily December 14, 2011 at 04:20 PM
Not surprisingly, the citizens in this community who CAN'T vote are the ones who lost yesterday. The democracy worked, but not for the better. This wasn't a bond designed to cover extravagant needs as is suggested. Our kids needed space to accommodate the number of them that will enroll in the high school in the next several years. Our kids needed bathrooms to be fixed. These needs still exist the day after the bond vote. Look around this town. Sure times are tough. But this town could have shouldered the burden if it was within our values to take care of the younger generation. The adults chose themselves yesterday. Too bad.
gail fell December 14, 2011 at 04:32 PM
In response to the comment about seniors being on 'fixed incomes', may I point out that those incomes are paid for by the rest of us through social security taxes, Medicare taxes and Medicare Part D supplements. I too hope the Board comes back with a Plan B, particularly renovating the science labs. As a country, we are falling behind in critical areas that affect our nation's competitiveness; the economic costs associated with any further declines will be substantial.
sj December 14, 2011 at 04:42 PM
Bottom line: 1/3 of the people who are registered voters in Rye gave their opinion about he bond. This is not a clear sampling and Rye was clearly not represented as an entire community. Next time, come to the polls so the true Rye can be heard.
S. B. December 14, 2011 at 10:24 PM
I am tired of hearing about how it is all the"seniors" fault that this bond failed. Seniors are not the only people who voted no - some young members of the community did so as well and it was not because they wanted to deprive the children of a good education, but it was just too expensive for many Rye home owners young and old. It is clear to even many of the no voters that work needs to be done on the school, but due to the economic climate, it is necessary to refine the request down to a manageable figure and then you might be surprised at the change of votes to yes. I must mention that I am appalled by the lack of respect and rudeness that has come out as a result of this bond request. Calling people "grey hairs", especially with disdain is beyond anything I would wish to hear from my children. Yesterday a woman I know who is in her 50s was about to enter the polling box when a young lady entering the adjacent polling box turned to the older woman and said - well, I guess we will cancel out each others votes. The older woman was so surprised by this rudeness that she changed what was going to be a yes vote to a no vote. The people of Rye pride themselves on having such a wonderful community. Let's stop spending our time with the blaming and the rudeness and get down to work to see how we can come up with a solution that can help the children and the people of Rye. That is really what everyone wants in the end.
Rye res December 15, 2011 at 03:05 AM
Yes,and those "fixed incomes" are in fact fixed unlike school taxes... I would also add that those seniors paid into the system as well when they worked and supported a prior generation. Maybe they actually earned that social security?
Bob Zahm December 15, 2011 at 03:17 AM
@SJ - I have a slightly different take on this. 100% of Rye voters were heard. The 2/3rds who didn't vote are "obviously" happy with the status quo and could live with the bond being passed or with it being killed. The 30+% turnout was the most I've seen in 10 years in Rye [granted, nowhere near as long as many residents].
Lucy December 15, 2011 at 03:26 AM
This is very disappointing. Young or old, who ever voted against this bond must not have been on a tour of the school. The facilities are disgraceful, with the exception of the library. The renovation is at least 15 years overdue. If the New York Times got a hold of this our home values would plummet. My children are very young, I'm lucky, I still have plenty of time for this to be accomplished. I am certain it will. The people who need these improvements, our children, aren't responsible for soaring pension costs and the other factors that make these decisions difficult. Let's all admit that it is absurd that in a community that values education as much as we do, kids can't wash their hands in the bathrooms and can't conduct 21st century labs. That in a community where the Rec department has International coaches for 3 year olds, we can't comply with basic Title 9 stuff in the High School. It will happen people, the question is will it happen soon enough for your neighbor, your kid, your grand kids to take advantage. I've got some time.
NY Firefighter December 15, 2011 at 04:55 AM
As I sit here and read the myriad of comments, I too am "very disappointed". I also value education. I feel I am educated enough to know that I didn't have all the facts on this issue to vote in favor of a 20 million dollar debt, especially in these economic times. That being said, I would think that even if times were great and we were all "rolling in cash", I would still not vote for something I felt I didn't have all the facts on. As I read your post I am constantly reminded of how Rye has changed. You "moved to this community because of its school system and value of education". What about for a felling of community and family? It seems, although I know I am assuming, that you are one of those "stepping stone" residents. The ones who move in, vote "yes" for everything, and then move out as soon as your kids are out of the school. As a life long resident of almost 50 years (with family here from the turn of the last century), it saddens me to see the constant waining of roots and community that were present here.
NY Firefighter December 15, 2011 at 04:56 AM
Part II, (sorry that my rambling ran out of room) Your comment, "This vote makes us wonder if we've made the right choice", has me guessing that you have not made the "right" choice in picking Rye for your stop over. I am sorry that you can't fathom a difference of opinion and an open election as a good thing. I see you didn't even comment of the low voter turnout percentage. Lastly, you mention that it a "loss situation" for your "children" and your "investment". So, by voting "no" we hurt your home value? Sell now and use the cash to get your kids into RCDS. You weren't planning on growing old here anyway.
NY Firefighter December 15, 2011 at 05:22 AM
Gail, I am sure you forgot that the monies that retired individuals receive are an "earned benefit" paid for by past contributions, like an IRA, not an entitlement handed out by your generosity today. As for falling behind, how about instilling personal responsibility and accountability in our children. Just like our parents, at least some of them, did with us. Lets have parents stop doing homework for kids, calling teacher to negotiate a better grade, or bringing a lawyer to school when the kid gets caught cheating or plagiarizing, oh, and God forbid, bring in lawyers to revoke suspensions for getting drunk and pissing in swimming pools on school trips. As I told my kids, "if I have to come to Police headquarters to get you, I am going to get a good nights sleep first." Make our kids work harder to succeed, that will breed success. Let them "work" and "earn". Get rid of the sense of entitlement and instill a sense of "earned reward". That will help more than "million dollar classrooms". After all, kids are sitting on dirt floors and learning all around the world, and most of those kids will be better prepared for the realities of real life outside the "Rye Bubble".
S. B. December 15, 2011 at 12:56 PM
Enough of all this back and forth. It is getting us nowhere. School bonds here have failed before. Rye did not crumble, house prices did not plummet and children still received an excellent education. What did happen was that a new bond was brought forth, public forums were held and the bond was passed. Let's take all the energy that is being used up in writing comments and laying blame and put it to work on developing a new bond suggestion. This time, let's have the public discussion before the vote. This is how work gets done.
RyeDad December 15, 2011 at 11:48 PM
NY Firefighter: I'm guessing no one from the Rye Hysterical Society would even recognize your family name. In case your wondering I voted No. Those labs were fine enough when we were there. $20,000,000? Playoffs? Playoffs..........................
Bob Zahm March 09, 2012 at 08:28 PM
Per Friends of the RSCD, the revised bond proposal will ONLY cost you 69 cents/day. That’s $5,037 over 20 years. Not bad. Great headline. But even better (and doable if the Board takes the RIGHT step) is 0 cents/day. Over 20 years, that’s still … wait for it … 0 cents! The kids get the classrooms they need. And the tax payers get a cost effective school district. If you’re happy with the $5k option, vote YES on Tuesday. If you’re not, then speak up. Time is running out.

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