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Long IslandEducation

Baldwin school district


7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday at Baldwin High School.


The district proposes a budget of $126,875,156 for 2016-17, a 1.96 percent increase over the current $124,433,793.

The tax levy would decrease by 0.45 percent, from $90,719,846 to $90,311,057.

This decrease is equal to the district’s tax-cap limit of -0.45 percent, so a simple majority vote will be required to approve the budget.

School taxes on an average single-family home would decrease by 0.81 percent, from $7,739.49 to $7,676.84.

The proposed budget includes estimated teacher salary increases subject to negotiations, according to the district. The proposal would maintain current levels of staffing and programs.

  • District website:


Incumbent Joel Press and candidates Magdalonie Campbell, Susan Cools, Eric Harrison and Van White are running for two at-large seats.

Magdalonie Campbell

BACKGROUND: Campbell, 36, has lived in the district for four years. She is a social worker for the New York City Administration for Children’s Services. She has a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from John Jay College of Criminal Justice, and a master’s degree in social work from Columbia University. Campbell is a member of the Baldwin Civic Association and the NAACP. She has two children who are not of school age.

ISSUES: Campbell said her experience as a social worker would help in communicating and working with everyone in the district. “Cultural awareness is a vital component of my everyday responsibilities,” she said. “I am trained to promote, develop and support a sense of belonging and inclusion.” She also said she could help in generating “positive academic growth.” “I can provide resources that will offer classroom-management strategies and professional development programs that will enhance teachers’ knowledge of social, emotional, behavioral and cultural needs,” she said.

Susan Cools

BACKGROUND: Cools, 51, has lived in the district for 32 years. She is a licensed real estate broker on the South Shore. Cools has volunteered with the Plaza School PTA, and co-founded a corporation to raise money to build the Plaza Community Playground. She also serves as president of the Baldwin-Rockville Centre Rotary Club. Cools has three children who attended district schools.

ISSUES: Cools said her family has strong ties to Baldwin and have attended the district schools for five generations. “The whole family has been very involved in our community. We’re not going anywhere, we’re here for the long haul, and we do whatever we can to make our community better,” she said. She said as a board member, she would work to make sure community members feel engaged. “I think it is most important that the residents of Baldwin feel that they have a voice and that they are heard,” she said. “I believe the community and the school district need to work together.”

Eric Harrison

BACKGROUND: Harrison, 50, has lived in Baldwin for 22 years. He is the president of Trans Union Transport, a defense contractor in Brooklyn. Harrison is a member of the Baldwin Civic Association and the Baldwin Oaks Association, a community organization. Harrison previously served on the Baldwin school board from 2012 to 2015. He has two children — one who attended district schools, and one still enrolled.

ISSUES: Harrison faulted the district for not having better academic achievement goals, and said more Baldwin graduates should be attending four-year colleges. He also called administration salaries “out of control,” and criticized the district for “outsourcing to consultants.” He said the district spends “far too much for busing,” adding that he sees “buses that are running up and down our streets with only two children” on them. “We can rectify this with a fiscally responsible school board and stop the status quo of rubber-stamping,” he said.

Joel Press

BACKGROUND: Press, 46, has lived in the district for 14 years. He was elected to the school board in 2013 and currently serves as its vice president. Press is an attorney specializing in entertainment law. His spouse is employed as a part-time breakfast monitor in a Baldwin public school. Press has a bachelor’s degree in liberal studies from Stony Brook University and a law degree from Boston University School of Law. His two children attend district schools.

ISSUES: Press said the most important issue facing the district is “the unpredictability of state mandates on school district finances.” He said that state aid, mandated contributions to state retirement funds and the tax-cap limit are “susceptible to large swings … from one year to the next.” “This puts our students’ education at the mercy of the legislature and the governor and erodes local control,” he said. Press said as a board member he will “continue to work with our district administration to look closely at our budget to find areas where we can reduce expenditures and increase sources of revenue.”

Van White

BACKGROUND: White, 52, has lived in the district for 14 years. White is a real estate agent on the South Shore and a part-time after-school program director for Goodwill Industries in Jamaica, Queens. He has a bachelor’s degree in organization management from Nyack College in Manhattan. White is a youth basketball coach for the Baldwin Police Athletic League. He was co-president of the Lenox Elementary School PTA, and has for the past three years chaired the Lenox Elementary Fatherhood/Brotherhood Pancake Breakfast.

ISSUES: White said that “the board is doing an excellent job and I want to make sure I can keep it that way.” He said that, as a community organizer, he would add to the diversity of the membership of the school board. White said that his involvement in the community will help him do “outreach,” and his local name recognition will bring out voters to the school board election. “I’ve been called the ‘mayor of Baldwin,’” he said.

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