TODAY'S PAPER
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Long IslandEducation

Brentwood school district

VOTING

8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday at the Hemlock Park, Laurel Park, Loretta Park, North, Northeast, Oak Park, Pine Park, Southeast and Southwest elementary schools.

THE BUDGET

The district proposes a budget of $381,757,188 for 2016-17, a 3.68 percent increase from the current $368,204,872. The tax levy would increase 0.10 percent, from $101,539,563 to $101,640,824.

This increase equals the district’s tax-cap limit of 0.10 percent, so a simple majority will be required to approve the budget. School taxes on the average single-family home would rise 0.10 percent, from $4,588 to $4,593.

The proposed budget would provide for salary increases to be based on the average for teaching units in neighboring districts within the Town of Islip. It also would fund teachers’ step increases averaging 2.43 percent. It includes 19 new positions to address enrollment growth and satisfy bilingual instruction requirements, according to the district. The proposed spending plan calls for 11 personnel decreases, including six administrative positions; reductions of custodial and maintenance staff, teaching assistants, clerical workers and technicians; and elimination of vacancies.

The district plans to renovate its television studio to restore a related program and reconfigure a home teaching program to offer classes at a school site. The proposed budget freezes purchases of new vehicles.

  • District website:

brentwood.k12.ny.us

THE CANDIDATES

Incumbent Robert Feliciano is being challenged by Hector Melgar for a seat, and incumbent G. Paula Moore is being challenged by Camille Serrano for a seat. Feliciano and Moore are running as a team, and Melgar and Serrano are running as a team. Terms are three years.

Robert Feliciano

BACKGROUND: Feliciano, 49, is a coordinator for a nonprofit housing agency in Bay Shore that helps families in need, including people struggling with substance abuse and domestic violence. He is a 1984 graduate of Brentwood High School with a general studies degree from Suffolk County Community College in the late 1980s. He has four children — two daughters who graduated from Brentwood schools, one daughter attending 10th grade in Brentwood and one attending elementary school in Bay Shore. His wife and a sister-in-law are teachers in the district, and a sister is a school principal; all were hired before he was elected to the board in 2013.

ISSUES: Feliciano said he broke away from the board majority because he is concerned about hiring practices, saying some applicants are getting jobs for which they are not qualified. He said he will act as a watchdog on the current board. “We are trying to raise the standards in terms of accountability and to really try to get a hold of the hiring practices in the school district, which are a shambles,” he said. Improvements in hiring practices, Feliciano said, should result in making better use of the district’s resources to educate its children.

Hector Melgar

BACKGROUND: Melgar, 41, is a physical therapist with a Brentwood-based practice. A 1994 graduate of Brentwood High School, he received a bachelor’s degree in physical therapy from Hunter College in Manhattan. He is pursuing a clinical program degree from the University of Montana. Melgar is first elder at the Spanish Bay Shore Seventh-Day Adventist Church in Bay Shore. His daughter is a fifth-grader at an Adventist school in Old Westbury.

ISSUES: Melgar said he is concerned about overcrowding as the district continues to enroll immigrant students. He arrived in the district as a 13-year-old from El Salvador and believes “we need some federal aid to educate the kids” who are enrolling now. He wants to encourage immigrant parents to place their children in English as a Second Language instruction and not necessarily a bilingual program in their native tongues, so they can learn English sooner, as he says he did. “I personally do not believe in bilingual programs,” Melgar said. He said he would be a team player on the board and would look for private funding to improve outdated technology.

G. Paula Moore

BACKGROUND: Moore, 72, is retired, having worked for the school district for 28 years, most recently as a human resources administrator. She attended New York University in Manhattan in the 1960s and took classes in business administration at Suffolk County Community College in the late 1980s. She served as recording secretary for the Mid-Island Chapter of the National Association of Negro Business and Professional Women’s Clubs from 2007 to 2011. Her three children graduated from Brentwood schools; two sons are employed by the district, one as a teacher, the other as a maintenance mechanic. She was elected to the board in 2013.

ISSUES: Moore said she believes the district is not receiving sufficient funds from Albany to support its programs and that it is saddled with unfunded government mandates. She said she would continue to lobby state legislators for an increase in aid, and hopes Brentwood schools eventually can afford more counselors and personnel to guide students. “My goal is to have Brentwood become one of the top school districts on Long Island, on par with the Syossets and Cold Spring Harbors.”

Camille Serrano

BACKGROUND: Serrano, 53, is a teaching assistant at one of the district’s elementary schools, and if elected said she intends to resign to serve on the board. She attended the Fashion Institute of Technology in Manhattan in the early 1990s. She studied online to obtain her bachelor’s in education and public policy in 2013 from Ashford University in Iowa and earned a master’s in education from Ashford in 2014. She is a retired corrections officer, having worked for 21 years at the Rikers Island jail complex in Queens. She was supervisor of campus safety at Dowling College from 2011 to 2014. She has four children, three of whom graduated from Brentwood High School. She is president of Brentwood’s PTSA Council.

ISSUES: Serrano said the district’s elementary curriculum should address more social justice issues to increase awareness of the country’s fraught history with racial and ethnic groups. “I think they need to be told the truth,” she said of students. She wants board members to meet with students, including in the early grades, and hear their concerns and ideas. Parents also should be made to feel welcome, Serrano said. “A professional learning community. That’s what I would love to see.”

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