TODAY'S PAPER
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BUDGET

SPENDING $62,728,901, a 1.82 percent increase from the current $61,606,082.

TAX LEVY 2.56 percent increase, from $45,937,729 to $47,113,716. This is equal to the district's tax-cap limit of 2.56 percent, so a simple majority vote is required for approval.

TEACHER PAY / PROGRAMS Includes a contract increase of 1 percent and an average step increase of 3.3 percent. The budget calls for reducing 6.8 teacher positions and 7 teacher assistant positions due to reduced enrollment and CSE recommendations. Middle school instructional music, such as performance ensembles, will meet during the school day rather than outside of school hours.

WHEN | WHERE

6 a.m. to 9 p.m. at Elwood Middle School cafeteria. www.elwood.k12.ny.us

CANDIDATES

Incumbent Deborah Weiss and Sara Siddiqui are seeking one at-large seat. The term is three years.

Sara Siddiqui

BACKGROUND Siddiqui, 47, is a pediatrician. She earned her medical degree at Stony Brook University School of Medicine. She is an advocate and educator on health and fitness and nutrition. Siddiqui is a PTA volunteer and member of the multicultural and the shared decision making committees. She has four children in Elwood schools.

KEY ISSUE Siddiqui said she would use her advocacy skills to work for more funding at the legislative level to help meet the costs of unfunded state mandates. "I believe we must advocate and provide an avenue for our children to graduate and become productive members in a field that will make them successful and allow them to reside locally." It's also important to offer ways to increase soft communication skills so students learn to communicate effectively to ensure long-term stability and jobs, she said.

Deborah Weiss

BACKGROUND Weiss, 54, is a former industrial engineer. She earned her bachelor's degree in industrial engineering at Texas A&M University. She has served as a Girl Scout leader and PTA Council president and as finance chairwoman for the Elwood Relay for Life. Weiss has two children in district schools and two who are Elwood graduates. She is seeking her second term on the board.

KEY ISSUE Weiss said she would continue to ask the question "how as a district can we do better" as she worked to balance educational needs against financial restrictions. As a small district with little commercial tax base, "we have to be efficiency masters to maintain our extensive programs and give students skill sets to succeed in a changing world and prepare them to be good citizens."

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