6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday at Eastport-South Manor Junior-Senior High School.
The district proposes a $90,575,950 budget for 2016-17, a 2.05 percent decrease over the current $92,472,268 budget. The tax levy would rise by 0.99 percent, from $50,968,930 to $51,471,991.
This 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 rise by 0.99 percent, from $8,694 to $8,780.
The proposed budget funds an average raise of 3 percent for teachers, including a step increase of 2.5 percent. It would cut 7.5 teachers, eight teaching assistants and three clerical or custodial jobs.
- District website:
Incumbents Marie Brown, Karen L. Kesnig and Nicholas Vero and candidates Larry Brown Jr. and Jeffrey Goldhammer are running for three at-large seats. Terms are three years.
BACKGROUND: Brown, 53, is a homemaker and former assistant vice president at the Bank of New York. She has a bachelor’s degree from Iona College and has lived 18 years in the district. She has a child attending a district school. Brown is president of the parent teacher student organization. She has served on the district’s budget advisory and legislative committees and is seeking a third term on the board.
ISSUES: Keeping programs without piercing the tax cap remains a necessary struggle in a community burdened by high taxes, Brown said. She also cited the superintendent search as a priority and seeks “somebody with a vision” and the creativity to meet more of students’ needs without a big price tag. Brown said she wants the school board and community to partner more in staying on top of lawmakers on the aid front, and “not just once a year when budget time comes up.” She said she plans to delve deeper into safety for student athletes.
Larry Brown Jr.
BACKGROUND: Brown, 55, has a child who is attending a district school. Brown supervises commercial projects for a construction company and once served as an assistant fire chief for Manorville Fire Department, where he’s still a firefighter. He also helped create the Manorville Historical Society. He is a lifelong Manorville resident.
ISSUES: Brown said he’ll bring a “diversity” of priorities and experience with construction and firefighting to look at budgets and needs, starting with safety. He said he wants a security guard in each school, not just the junior-senior high. He also said vehicles should be allowed to park on school fields, because they now clog major roadways as parents park to drop off or pick up children. With the tax burden and school funding a perennial challenge, Brown suggested tapping the private sector for grants: “You have to look outside the box. You can’t always look at the state.”
BACKGROUND: Goldhammer, 32, is the chief engineer for a company that installs large-scale hydraulic projects and co-founded a business that restores and sells model electric trains. He has a bachelor’s degree in engineering from Stony Brook University. He belongs to the International Fluid Power Society and volunteers as a Little League coach. A three-year resident of the district, he has three children who attend district schools.
ISSUES: Goldhammer said he wants to motivate people to get involved to ensure the state does not shortchange the district on aid. If elected, he said, he’ll be the youngest on the board — part of a generation that checks social media as soon as they wake up. He said he will use social media to get people to board meetings, start letter-writing campaigns and more. “I think right now on the board of education, we’re missing out on a large tax base who are on Facebook and not learning about what’s going on,” he said. Goldhammer also said the philosophy behind individualized education plans, which special education students get, should be applied to every student. “I just want to be able to make sure whatever makes a certain student tick and excel, they get a chance to do that,” he said.
Karen L. Kesnig
BACKGROUND: Kesnig, 56, is an attorney who has lived in the district for 26 years and been on the board since 1997. She has a bachelor’s degree from the University at Albany and a law degree from St. John’s University. The youngest of her four children attends a district school. She is president of the Manorville Chamber of Commerce, a board member with Aid to the Developmentally Disabled in Riverhead, a member of the Town of Brookhaven’s planning board and chair of the Suffolk County Bar Association’s grievance committee.
ISSUES: Kesnig identified two priorities: wresting more education funds from Albany and hiring a superintendent who can do that. When the state this year tacked on an extra aid package to schools, she said, “we got zero . . . It’s a matter of finding out how that’s even possible.” She plans to press lawmakers for an explanation and hopes to get what the district expected for 2016-17. Kesnig wants to talk with her counterparts across the state to get boards “more authority to right wrongs.” School boards serve as “checks and balances” in the education system, she said, but laws and policies limit what they can tell the public and order superintendents to do.
BACKGROUND: Vero, 58, an architect with his own firm, has lived 26 years in the school district and his two children attended district schools. He has a bachelor’s degree in architecture from the New York Institute of Technology. He is the scholarship chairman in the Westhampton Rotary Club and sits on the finance and building committees of Saints Peter & Paul Roman Catholic Church in Manorville. He is seeking a second term.
ISSUES: Vero said picking a superintendent is a priority job, which may extend into the new school year. “We want to make sure we don’t make any mistakes,” he said. He will also urge parents not to opt out of Common Core tests while compromises and solutions are being negotiated, because, he said, boycotting does more harm than good. “Let the kids take the tests. See what they can do. We can’t possibly get real results when only 25 percent of the students are taking the tests,” he said. “We have to see how our teachers are performing too . . . We just have to sit tight and encourage people to hang in there like we’ve been saying for the last couple years.” He said he will advocate for after-school activities, including keeping school libraries open, so that children are off the streets and not home alone.