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Long IslandEducation

Commack

SCHOOL VOTERS GUIDE

BUDGET

SPENDING $197,062,213, a 1.99 percent increase from the current $193,222,796.

TAX LEVY 2.95 percent increase, from $138,464,368 to $142,545,140. This is equal to the district’s 2.95 percent tax-cap limit, so a simple majority vote is required for approval.

TEACHER PAY / PROGRAMS Includes a 1 percent contractual increase and an average step increase of 2.5 percent to 3 percent. The proposed budget includes districtwide security improvements, upgrades in instructional technology and new courses, such as an Intro to Health Professions course at the high school, technical and business training and internships for career readiness.

WHEN | WHERE

6 a.m. to 9 p.m. at Commack Middle School and Commack High School. www.commack.k12.ny.us 

CANDIDATES

Six candidates are running for three positions, elected by seat. Incumbent Steven Hartman and Pamela Verity are vying for a seat with a full three-year term. Jennifer Mansi and Justin Varughese are running for a seat with the remainder of a three-year term, previously held by Verity, who resigned last year. Susan Hermer and Jennifer Scully are running for a seat with a one-year term, created by the resignation of another board member. Service in the two seats with abbreviated terms will begin upon election on May 21.

Steven Hartman

BACKGROUND Hartman, 48, has lived in the district 22 years. A senior engineering manager at a medical device engineering company, Hartman earned his bachelor's degree and a master's in mechanical engineering from SUNY Buffalo State. He is president of Commack Public Library's board of trustees, and has been involved with the Commack PTA and the Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts of America. Hartman mentors high school students involved in the Science Research Program. He has one child attending Commack High School and another who is a graduate. Hartman has been on the board for six years, including four as president. 

KEY ISSUE “The fiscal stability of our district, which is the main role of a board member, is the most challenging issue facing Commack. We must continue to advocate to our legislators that any new federal and state mandates must not be added without a revenue source to enact them in the school district.”

Susan Hermer

BACKGROUND Hermer, 60, has lived in the district for 27 years. A lawyer, she earned a bachelor's degree in political science from SUNY Oneonta and a law degree from the University of Toledo College of Law. She served for 10 years on the Commack Special Education PTA, including two years as co-president, and as second vice president of the PTA Council. She is treasurer of Commack Coalition of Caring. She has two children who graduated from Commack High School.

KEY ISSUE “I feel the most important issue facing our district is to obtain funding to keep our taxes within the tax cap without cutting our wonderful programs, teachers, clubs, field trips and sports. We need to continue to lobby Albany for additional state aid, seek grants, and continue our energy cost-saving programs.”

Jennifer Mansi

BACKGROUND Mansi, 45, has lived in the district for 10 years. A real estate saleswoman, she holds a bachelor's degree in communications from Bethany College. She is a soccer coach and board member of the 4 Towns Civic Association, and is active in the Commack PTA and Habitat for Humanity. She has three children attending district schools.

KEY ISSUE “I believe a BOE member plays an important role in governing our school district and must act as a leader, advocate and representative to help communicate the will of the community into the educational well-being of all students.”

Jennifer Scully

BACKGROUND Scully, 46, has lived in the district for seven years. An interior designer, she has a bachelor of fine arts degree from The New School for Social Research. She is a founder of Help Mrs. Claus children’s charity, and a member of Moms Demand Action and the 4 Towns Civic Association. She has one child attending district schools.

KEY ISSUE “The serious issues which face our children today are school violence, bullying and opioid abuse. These life-threatening problems can be solved through educational programs focusing on mental and physical health.”

Justin Varughese

BACKGROUND Varughese, 41, has lived in the district for 13 years. A lawyer, he holds a double bachelor's degree in government and politics/criminal justice from the University of Maryland. His law degree is from St. John’s University. He is a founding partner of Leitner Varughese, a Melville-based law firm that specializes in personal injury cases, and is the executive pastor of Lighthouse Community Church. He has two children attending district schools.

KEY ISSUE Diversity of thought and opportunity. “As our nation becomes increasingly diverse in a variety of ways, it is crucial that we equip our students with a healthy perspective that empowers them to relate to and learn from those who are different from them.”

Pamela Verity

BACKGROUND Verity, 55, has lived in the district for 14 years. A former teacher and currently a field trip facilitator, she holds a bachelor's degree in elementary education and art education from Long Island University. She is a founding member of Long Island Opt Out and of New York State Advocates for Public Education. Verity has served on the district's Common Core, safety and Marion Carll property committees. She has two children attending district schools, and two who graduated from Commack High School. She served on the school board from 2016 to 2018.

KEY ISSUE “Parents right now are most concerned with ensuring that our children and staff are, above all else, safe in their classrooms and schools. It is imperative that we spend our tax dollars wisely on updating our security systems to eliminate threats from the outside as well as the inside, while giving students the support they need.”

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