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Long IslandEducation

Commack school district


6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday at Commack Middle School and Commack High School.


The district proposes a $187,532,818 budget for 2016-17, a 1.3 percent increase from the current budget of $185,123,747. The tax levy would rise by 0.38 percent, from $131,931,340 to $132,432,249.

The increase is equal to the district’s tax-cap limit, so a simple majority vote will be required to approve the budget. School taxes on the average single-family home would increase by 0.44 percent in Huntington and by 0.38 percent in Smithtown; increasing from $10,559 to $10,605 in Huntington and from $10,146 to $10,185 in Smithtown.

The proposed budget includes step increases of 2.7 percent for teachers. The district is in negotiations with its teachers, so there is no information available on contractual increases.

The proposed budget also includes a reduction of eight to 10 staff members due to declining enrollment, according to the district.

  • District website:


Two positions are open in the by-seat election. Candidates Susan Hermer and Pamela Verity are running for one seat, while incumbent Steve Hartman is running unopposed for the other. Terms are three years.

Susan Hermer

BACKGROUND: Hermer, 57, is an attorney who has lived in the district for 24 years. She holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from SUNY Oneonta, and a law degree from University of Toledo College of Law. She has two adult sons who attended district schools. Hermer is past co-president of the special education PTA. She also served on the Common Core Focus group for the district in 2013-14.

ISSUES: Hermer says the district’s constant struggle to maintain its “wonderful programs, teachers, clubs, field trips, and sports” and keep taxes at a near-zero rate should be met in different revenue-finding ways. “We need to lobby Albany for additional state aid,” she said, in addition to seeking grants, continuing to accept tuition-paying students and obtaining rental income from buildings the district no longer uses.

Pamela Verity

BACKGROUND: Verity, 52, is a homemaker and a field-trip teacher for a local farm. A 12-year resident of the district, she has bachelor’s degrees from LIU Post in both elementary and secondary art education. She is a founder and administrator for United Commack for the Love of Learning, an education advocacy group, and is a district liaison for Long Island Opt Out. She has three children who attend district schools.

ISSUES: Verity said the most important issue facing the district is what she calls the loss of local control of the school’s classrooms. She said Common Core, “high-stakes testing, a flawed teacher-evaluation system” and “an onslaught of unfunded mandates” are making it difficult for the district to deliver the quality education it wants to provide. She said through her advocacy work and time volunteering at the district, she has a “vast network of resources and educational experts” to call on to help “stand up for our children and reclaim our schools.”

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