8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday at Ronkonkoma Middle School, Oakdale-Bohemia Middle School and Connetquot High School.
The district proposes a $192,870,820 budget for 2018-19, a 2.92 percent increase from the current $187,403,135. The tax levy would be $122,226,866, the same amount as for 2017-18.
This amount is within district’s tax-cap limit of a 3.87 percent increase, so a simple majority is required to approve the budget.
School taxes on a home with an assessed value of $50,000 will remain flat, at an estimated $8,915.
The proposed budget includes a pay raise for teachers, with a contractual increase of 1.25 percent and an average step increase of 2.4 percent.
The spending plan includes funding for two professional staffers, including a guidance staff member, and 13 support staff. The district also plans to add seven innovation STEM labs at the elementary schools and the AP Capstone diploma program, and to pilot a varsity coed badminton program.
Voters will consider two propositions. One is to approve naming the Central Office Administration Building the Helen R. Maloney Administration Building in honor of the longtime school board member, district auditor and community volunteer who died in 2017. The cost for plaques and related signs is estimated at less than $5,000.
The other proposition asks voters whether to increase the number of Board of Education members from five to seven, with an appropriation of up to $90,000 to hold a special election within 60 days of the July annual meeting if voters approve the increase in the number of board members. Board members chosen in that special election would begin to serve on the panel immediately, with terms expiring June 20, 2022. Thereafter, terms would be three years, as with current board members.
Incumbent Nicholas Ferraioli and candidates Robert Hochstein, Eileen Panico and Mark Warshaw are vying for two at-large seats. Incumbent Craig Amarando is not seeking re-election. Terms are three years.
BACKGROUND: Ferraioli, 45, is a sixth-grade teacher in Brentwood. He holds a bachelor’s degree in business from St. Joseph’s College and a master’s degree in elementary education from LIU Post. He has two children in district schools and is seeking his second term on the board.
ISSUES: Ferraioli said he wants to continue working to improve education in the district and bring an educator’s viewpoint to the board. He said he is working to make the culture more kid-oriented and offer new programs and more electives. “I will always make the best decisions for our students and community with as little impact on the taxpayer as possible,” he said.
BACKGROUND: Hochstein, 65, retired three years ago as facilities director after 14 years working in the Connetquot district. His wife works on the district janitorial staff. He graduated from the Sachem district and attended Suffolk County Community College. Three of his children and two grandchildren are Connetquot graduates.
ISSUES: Hochstein said he is running to be part of the decision-making process and to help the district move forward in a positive way. He would work to keep the tax rate as low as possible and do his best for students and the district, he said. “I want to concentrate on moving the district forward and represent the entire community,” Hochstein said.
BACKGROUND: Panico, 50, is a former accountant and acts as caretaker for her husband. She studied accounting at Suffolk County Community College and at St. Joseph’s College. Two children have graduated from Connetquot and a third is a senior. Panico is active in the PTA and is the incoming president of the Ronkonkoma Civic Association. She videotapes school board meetings and posts them on YouTube. This is her second bid for a board seat.
ISSUES: Panico said the current board is not fiscally responsible and doesn’t involve the community enough in decisions. She would work to change that, she said, and endeavor to repair relationships between the administration and the teachers union. “I would be a strong advocate for children and direct more spending toward services for children,” she said. The board needs to be more transparent, she said. “One seat would make a difference.”
BACKGROUND: Warshaw, 53, is self-employed and runs a marketing business. He attended Queens College, where he studied liberal arts. He previously coached baseball and basketball with the Connetquot Youth Organization and Sunrise Little League. He also coached football in the school district for many years, stopping in 2016. He has a child attending district schools and another who graduated.
ISSUES: Warshaw said he would use his personal experiences and history of volunteering to have a positive influence if he is elected to the board. “You can have a difference of opinion, but you have to work together to get a result,” he said. “It’s about listening. I will always be transparent, look at all sides and never assume.”