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Long IslandEducation

East Meadow school district

East Meadow School District

VOTING

7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday at Barnum Woods, Bowling Green, George McVey, Parkway and Meadowbrook elementary schools.

THE BUDGET

The district proposes a $203,754,394 school budget for 2018-19, a 2.05 percent increase from the current $199,671,104. The tax levy would rise 2.97 percent from $132,518,088 to $136,451,355.

This is equal to the state’s tax-cap limit of 2.97 percent, so a simple majority will be required to approve the budget.

The dollar amount of the school tax paid on the average single-family house would increase 2.97 percent from $7,381.85 to $7,601.09.

The proposed budget includes an average salary increase of 1.1 percent for teachers, and an average step increase of 2 percent. Funding would be added for the equivalent of 5.4 special education teacher positions, a STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) teacher and three teaching assistants. Six intervention assistant positions would be cut.

Two other propositions will be on the ballot. Proposition 2 asks voters to authorize a $12.8 million capital reserve fund for improvements and repairs to district school buildings. Proposition 3 would change the district’s school board elections to at-large voting, beginning in 2019.

District website: www.eastmeadow.k12.ny.us

THE CANDIDATES

Incumbent Brian O’Flaherty is being challenged by Eileen Napolitano; incumbent Melissa Tell is being challenged by Joseph Danenza. Terms are three years.

Joseph Danenza

BACKGROUND: Danenza, 63, is assistant director of police information systems for the Nassau County police. He has lived in the district for 35 years. Danenza taught global studies and American history for one year at Midwood High School in Brooklyn. He has a bachelor of arts degree in political science and psychology from St. John’s University in Queens and a master of business administration in information technology from Baruch College in Manhattan. He is a member of the East Meadow Kiwanis and an associate member of the East Meadow Chamber of Commerce. His two children both graduated from district public schools. Danenza was appointed to the school board in 2010 to serve the remaining year of the three-year-term of a board member who had resigned. He was re-elected in 2014 and lost re-election in 2017.

ISSUES: Danenza said the district needs “to ensure the security of our schools and develop strategies to combat the abuse of opiate-based and other illegal drugs.” Danenza said he “can assist with both of these initiatives as I have an existing association with the police department.” He added that his “extensive experience in technology and finance” will be useful in dealing with the district’s security enhancement and drug abuse prevention efforts. Danenza said if elected, he will provide needed oversight on the school district’s $44.2 million portion of the $58.8 million bond issue passed last year by voters. Danenza said, “Our school buildings were desperately in need of repair and with the tax cap it was impossible to do it just using normal operating expenses.”

Eileen M. Napolitano

BACKGROUND: Napolitano, 55, has lived in the district for 19 years. She works part time as a licensed optician at Diamond Vision in Rockville Centre. Napolitano is a graduate of Longwood High School in Middle Island. She graduated from the two-year ophthalmic dispensing program at New York City College of Technology in Brooklyn and has a New York State license in ophthalmic dispensing. Napolitano is a member of the East Meadow Chamber of Commerce. She is a former president of the Barnum Woods Elementary School and Woodland Middle School PTAs and a former vice president of the East Meadow High School PTA. Napolitano has two grown children who attended district public schools. She ran unsuccessfully for Nassau County’s 13th legislative district last year.

ISSUES: Napolitano said one of her “top priorities” would be school safety. “While I do not support our teachers being armed, I do support having a presence in the school, whether it be a police officer or security guard . . . trained in security and student threats,” she said. “The opioid and heroin epidemic . . . continues to be a threat to our community and children,” Napolitano said. However, she called the district’s anti-drug program “outdated and out of touch.” Napolitano said the program should focus more on drug-abuse prevention and, “when needed, help in recovery.” Napolitano said the district should be preparing students for working in trades as well as college. She said she would work with local labor groups to develop a pilot program that “will enable young adults to move directly to a trade.”

Brian O’Flaherty

BACKGROUND: O’Flaherty, 55, is a manager of New York City office buildings for Jones Lang LaSalle. He was raised in East Meadow and is a 1981 graduate of East Meadow High School. He earned a bachelor of business administration degree in accounting from Hofstra University. He is a former president of East Meadow Kiwanis, and current treasurer of the volunteer organization. O’Flaherty is president of the East Meadow Townhouse Condominium board of managers, and is a member of the East Meadow Chamber of Commerce. He is a member of PTAs at the high school, middle school and elementary levels. O’Flaherty has served on the school board since 2003.

ISSUES: O’Flaherty said that in light of “current events . . . We need to increase the level of security in our (school) buildings . . . to make sure the children, teachers” and other district employees “feel safe coming to the school every day.” He said his experience as a New York City building manager leads him to believe that district security “should be tighter than what is in place in courthouses.” O’Flaherty is a proponent of providing more technology to students, “especially in the higher grades” and utilizing district funds to install technology wiring in school buildings. O’Flaherty said his business experience, which includes oversight of construction projects, enables him to “ask the right questions regarding roof replacements, HVAC [heating, ventilation and air-conditioning] upgrades and site work.”

Melissa Tell

BACKGROUND Tell, 46, is a self-described “stay-at-home mother.” Tell grew up in East Meadow and graduated from W. Tresper Clarke High School. She moved back to the community with her family after buying her parents’ home in 2005. Tell has a bachelor of fine arts degree in visual arts from Hunter College, CUNY. Tell is a member of Hadassah and was named the fundraiser of the year for the volunteer organization’s Dayan Lilah chapter in Merrick. Tell is an active member of Community Reform Temple in Westbury. Tell has organized clothing and food drives for needy families on Long Island. She has three children in district public schools. Tell, who was elected to the school board in 2015, is running as a team with Eileen Napolitano.

ISSUES: Tell said that she ran for the school board three years ago because “this community needed a parent representative on the board of education.” Tell said she is seeking another three-year term because, “It is imperative to have someone who sees what is going on first hand with the education of the children in this district.” Tell said that if re-elected, she will continue to be a voice for the district’s children and parents. Tell cited “fiscal matters” as the most important issue currently facing the district. She said, “New York State is sending down unfunded mandates that local districts need to both implement and fund . . . while being required to stay under a tax cap.”

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