Election Officials: Low turnout so far in school budget votes

05/15/2012 2:59 PM |

PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | So far school budget voter turnout has been low at polling places in Riverhead Town, officials said.

Turnout is low for this year’s school budget votes, and rain showers in the afternoon are not helping to bring out voters, said election officials from both Riverhead and Shoreham-Wading River school districts Tuesday.

“It seems a little less than last year,” said Carole Galinsky, a clerk at the Shoreham-Wading River High School polling place. “But you never know. It could pick up later in the day.”

Check back on riverheadnewsreview.com for live coverage once the polls close at 9 p.m.

Riverhead district election workers at Aquebogue Elementary School said the turnout is lower than last year’s budget vote and much lower than the bond vote last November.

“You can’t even compare this year to the bond vote,” said one election official who asked to remain anonymous. “You just have two empty seats and the budget.”

Residents have gone to the polls today to vote on a nearly $111.8 million school budget in Riverhead and a roughly $62.35 million budget in Shoreham-Wading River.

While the two Riverhead school board candidates are running unopposed, three candidates are competing for two open seats on Shoreham-Wading River’s board. Residents are also voting on two additional propositions: a $1.14 Health and Safety plan for repairs at Shoreham-Wading River schools and a proposal to allow a student to become a non-voting member of the board.

Some Riverhead voters shared their thoughts on the budget outside Aquebogue Elementary School.

“If we as consumers need to tighten our belts, the district should have to do the same,” said Tom Mielnicki, who said he voted against the budget.

Others said the district needed to be held accountable for its spending.

“We don’t have a taxing problem,” said one voter, who did not give his name. “We have a spending problem.”

Yet other voters said they trusted to district and voted in favor of the budget.

“I feel like they know more about it than I do,” said Jean, a former substitute teacher in the district. “I’m not the people who make the decisions, so God bless them.”

In Shoreham-Wading River, voters questioned were split on the budget.

George Hendrey, of Shoreham, said he supported the proposed spending plan.

“The biggest problem facing America is that we don’t spend enough on education,” Mr. Hendrey said. Other voters, who said they had children in the district, voted in favor of the propositions and the budget.

However, another voter, who declined to give her name, said she voted against the budget because her taxes were too high.

“My taxes are $21,000 and my children are all married now,” she said. “It’s too bad, but that’s how it is.”

psquire@timesreview.com