COVID-19

School budget votes will be held via mail on June 9

An executive order issued by Gov. Andrew Cuomo Friday has set school board elections and budget votes for Tuesday, June 9.

The election will be conducted entirely via mail, with every qualified voter set to receive an absentee ballot with return postage paid to participate, according to the executive order.

“We’ve made great progress to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus, but we still don’t know when this pandemic will end and we don’t want to undo all the work we’ve already done to flatten the curve,” Mr. Cuomo said in a statement. “We don’t want to put New Yorkers in a situation where they are possibly putting their health at risk, so we are delaying school board elections and conducting them by mail and delaying all local special district and village elections to help limit any unnecessary exposure to this virus among both voters and poll workers.”

In March, Gov. Cuomo signed an executive order to postpone the local school district budget votes, originally slated for May 15, until after June 1. Most districts were unable to adopt budgets before the pandemic hit and face challenges as most fiscal years begin July 1.

Riverhead did not complete its budget presentations before social distancing began. Voters last year approved a $144 million spending plan.

Officials in the Mattituck school district held a virtual meeting last month where they adopted a $41.4 million budget, though it’s unclear if changes will be made to the budget amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Shoreham-Wading River, Southold and Greenport also did not adopt budgets before school closures took effect in March. 

Board of education trustee candidates are still required to file petitions with their district clerk, but Mr. Cuomo’s order suspends a requirement that candidates obtain a minimum number of signatures to run.

There will three spots open on Riverhead’s seven-member board of education as board president Greg Meyer and members Chris Dorr and Therese Zuhoski’s terms expire this year. The next school board meeting is scheduled for May 12.

There are also three vacancies on the Shoreham-Wading River Board of Education. Katie Anderson and Henry Perez’s three-year terms are both set to expire, as is board president Michael Lewis’ one-year term he was elected to last year following the resignation of Erin Hunt. The SWR board is set to meet again May 5.

In Mattituck, the only board member whose term is up this year is Brian Mealy. The board’s next meeting is May 14.

Greenport Board of Education vice president Kirsten Droskoski’s term will also end, leaving one spot open on the district’s five-member board, which meets again May 12.

Two spots will be open on the Southold Board of Education as Scott Latham and Brian Tobin are up for re-election this year. The next meeting is set for May 6.

School board candidates have until May 10 to file petitions, according to the executive order.

Special district and village elections originally scheduled for March, April, May or June will now be held September 15, according to a press release from the governor’s office. Though the order affects village elections, it will not affect Greenport Village, which doesn’t have mayoral or trustee elections this year.

Much of the voting in New York’s primary election scheduled for June 23 could take place via absentee voting as well. Last month, Gov. Cuomo announced that the Democratic presidential primary in New York was canceled by the New York State Board of Elections due to concerns over the coronavirus pandemic.

The primary had originally been scheduled for April before Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed an executive order pushing it back to June 23.

Despite the presidential primary being cancelled, primary elections will still be held in state and congressional level races. Mr. Cuomo indicated that every registered voter would receive an application for an absentee ballot in the mail for the primary election.