6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday at Babylon Memorial Grade School.
The district proposes a budget of $51,670,849 for 2017-18, a 2.99 percent increase from the current $50,172,183. The tax levy would rise by 3.66 percent, from $39,085,906 to $40,517,723.
This increase is equal to what is allowed under the district’s tax-cap limit, so a simple majority will be required to approve the budget. School taxes on the average single-family home would rise by 3.66 percent, from $9,168 to $9,504.
The proposed budget includes a 1 percent increase in salaries for teachers, with no step increases. The budget calls for the addition of a 1:1 Computing Initiative, which will give all students and staff access to a personal computer device.
- District website: babylonschools.org
Incumbents Carol Ann Dell’Erba, Linda Jurs and Dominick Montalto, and candidate Robyn Silvestri are running for three at-large seats. Dell’Erba, Jurs and Montalto are running as a team. Terms are three years.
Carol Ann Dell’Erba
BACKGROUND: Dell’Erba, 51, an English teacher in the Jericho district, has lived in the Babylon district her entire life. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Hofstra University and a master’s degree in education from Dowling College. She is a former SEPTA president, and is chair of the board of education’s curriculum committee. She has a son who graduated from Babylon High School and a daughter who is a junior there. She is finishing her first term on the board.
ISSUES: “Over the past three years, our district has made tremendous strides in enriching both our curriculum and extracurricular opportunities for all of our students,” with programs such as the Teachers College Literacy program in the elementary schools and added Advanced Placement classes in the high school, Dell’Erba said. The biggest issue in the district, she said, “is how to continue to support and grow these educational opportunities for our students and remain within the tax cap,” especially as state aid declines. She said the board has created a strong administrative team to meet this challenge, started an advocacy breakfast to lobby elected officials, partnered with elected village officials to share services and save money, and partnered with other local groups such as the Babylon Village Arts Council to bring more programs to students.
BACKGROUND: Jurs, 48, has lived in the district for 22 years. She is an associate director of market intelligence at a Manhattan-based accounting firm. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Fairfield University and a master’s degree in marketing from Hofstra University. She is a former board member of the Babylon Soccer Club and St. Joseph’s CYO. She has a daughter who graduated from Babylon High School and a 10th-grade daughter at the high school. She is finishing her first term on the board.
ISSUES: Jurs says the biggest issue is balancing “a well-rounded educational program with increasing budgetary pressures and restrictions,” such as 3-8 grade assessments. To counteract the pressures, she said, the board has started a legislative conference with local politicians and community groups to share concerns and find support. She said the board has also partnered with other entities such as the Village of Babylon for sanitation and security services to help taxpayers with both school and village taxes. She said if re-elected, she will continue to work toward such creative solutions.
BACKGROUND: Montalto, 50, a retired New York City firefighter, has lived in the district for 20 years. He graduated from Connetquot High School and studied at Suffolk County Community College and Pace University. He has served as vice president of the board of education, coached soccer and T-ball, and has been active in the Lymphoma & Leukemia Society. He has two children in Babylon High School. He is running for his third term.
ISSUES: Montalto said the biggest issue “is the challenge of providing the level of educational services and programs expected and desired by our school community within a fiscally responsible budget that meets the approval of our taxpayers.” He said the board during his tenure has introduced important initiatives including Project Lead the Way, a sequence of rigorous project-based engineering courses in the junior and senior high schools that prepare students for a career in engineering. The proposed budget also calls for “an extensive 1:1 districtwide technology initiative.” Montalto, as chair of the district’s technology committee, said he has worked closely with the administration on a multiyear financial plan to pay for the initiative “without placing undue pressure on the district’s budget or our taxpayers.”
BACKGROUND: Silvestri, 47, a marketing director, has lived in the district for 16 years. She holds a bachelor’s degree from the Webster University campus in Vienna. She has served as president of the Babylon K-6 PTA, and is a member of Long Island Women in Tech and Babylon Friends of the Library. She has four children, all in district elementary schools.
ISSUES: Silvestri said the biggest issue is the need for more diversity on the board. If elected, she said she would be the only board member with children in the district at the K-6 level. She also notes that four of seven board members are teachers, and that all three incumbents running for re-election have been previously endorsed by the Babylon Teachers Association. She said she has no issues with unions, but “the teachers contract is the most expensive decision a school board makes and is up for negotiation as early as January 2018. I want to be sure that I can be a part of those negotiations without anyone questioning my independence. The teachers deserve a fair contract and the community deserves a fiscally responsible deal that allows us to offer robust student programs.”