Controversies don't prevent budget passage

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Voters appeared to shrug off recent controversies in school districts and approved multimillion dollar budgets Tuesday.

By 20 votes, or 799-779, Glen Cove voters approved a $76.6 million budget and elected former board president Richard Maccarone and incumbent Grady Farnan in an election that came just weeks after the district made headlines in a cheating scandal.

Teachers at two elementary schools have been accused of coaching students on tests. The Nassau County District Attorney's office is investigating grade-changing on two 2012 Regents exams at the high school.

Superintendent Joseph Laria resigned one day after he let a student drive his car in a parking lot this month.

Rick Smith, owner of The Piano Exchange, said he doesn't understand why anyone would trust the proposed budget.

But resident Robert Pfeffer, 70, said he favored a "quality education" and was not swayed by recent events.

In Wyandanch, voters handily approved a $60.2 million budget about a week after a report surfaced that had accused former Wyandanch superintendent, Sherman Roberts, of using a doctorate from an unaccredited college to collect annual stipends of $3,000. Roberts, director of central registration, remains a district employee.

Incumbent Michael Talbert Sr., who was up for re-election, once was a vocal Roberts supporter. Voters rejected Talbert and incumbent Barry Sexton and elected former board members Yvonne Holder Robinson and James Crawford.

In Roosevelt, trustee Wilhelmina Funderburke was re-elected while facing official misconduct charges for allegedly harassing an assistant superintendent, threatening to fire another assistant superintendent and abusing her authority to obtain a promotion for a grandson. Voters also approved an $88.9 million budget.

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In East Islip, voters approved a $109.4 million spending plan by more than 100 votes and elected Steven Behan. Several residents didn't mind that the district narrowed polling sites from four schools to the Early Childhood Center.

Some critics said the change, which officials said was due to increased security at the elementary schools, was made to suppress turnout.

Having one location "actually makes it so much easier," said Susan Phillips, 48.

But John Kurka, 88, found it inconvenient. "I used to go right around the block from where I live," he said.

With Candice Ferrette

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