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Long IslandEducation



6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday at Weldon E. Howitt Middle School.


The district proposes a $162,299,331 budget for 2017-18, a 2.15 percent increase from the current $158,880,867. The tax levy would increase 0.83 percent, from $119,255,708 to $120,240,900. This increase is equal to the district’s tax-cap limit, so a simple majority vote will be required to approve the budget.

The district said it could not calculate the dollar amount of school taxes on the average single-family home or the percent change between the years because the district straddles Nassau and Suffolk counties. It also cited “fluctuations in a variety of factors outside of the district’s control.”

Teachers will receive an average 2 percent step increase, and no contractual salary increase. Current staffing levels and programs would be maintained, and the middle school sports program would be restored.

Voters will decide two ballot propositions. One seeks authorization to spend a maximum of $5 million from the capital reserve fund for bathroom reconstruction at various schools. The other authorizes the Farmingdale Youth Council appropriation for 2017-18. Approval of the propositions would not result in a tax increase that would exceed the cap limit, the district said.


Arlene Soete and incumbents John Capobianco and Ralph Morales are running for two at-large seats. Terms are three years.

John Capobianco

BACKGROUND: Capobianco, 53, is a landscape gardener and owner of Capobianco Creations in Farmingdale. A lifelong district resident, he graduated in 1982 from Farmingdale High School. Capobianco is president of the Bonsai Society of Greater New York and treasurer of the Long Island Chrysanthemum Society. He chairs the Village of Farmingdale’s cultural arts committee and is a member of the village’s planning advisory board and architectural review board. He also is vice president of the Judy Jacobs Central Oyster Bay Democratic Club. Capobianco was elected to the school board in 2008 and is seeking a fourth term.

ISSUES: Capobianco said the biggest issue facing the schools is financing education. “I am always fighting for Farmingdale’s fair share of state aid,” he said, with that advocacy including work on the district’s legislative action committee and meetings with legislators at the State Capitol in Albany. During his tenure, Capobianco said, the board “returned $700,000 in state aid to the district taxpayers by lowering the tax levy.” He continued, “We did $13 million in energy conservation measures.” That work resulted in a $335,000 LIPA rebate to the district, he said.

Ralph Morales

BACKGROUND: Morales, 47, is an attorney and a partner in Vigorito, Barker, Porter & Patterson, a firm specializing in litigation and trials. He has lived in the district for 14 years. Morales has a bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University and his juris doctor degree from St. John’s University School of Law. Morales is the second vice president of the Farmingdale Police Athletic League and serves on the league’s executive board. He has five children, four currently attending district public schools and one a recent district graduate. He was elected to the school board in 2014.

ISSUES: Morales said, “One thing I’ve learned over the course of my board tenure is that Farmingdale follows an ideal called ‘the growth mindset,’ which means that irrespective of grades, every child has an opportunity to maximize his or her potential.” He said he supports the policy that prompts Farmingdale to offer “a wide variety of courses.” Morales said, “As a board member, I have worked with the administration to ensure that there is funding available to provide this wide variety of educational opportunities.”

Arlene Soete

BACKGROUND: Soete, 56, is director of the early childhood education center at St. Luke’s Lutheran Church in Farmingdale. She was raised in Farmingdale, attended district schools and graduated from Farmingdale High School in 1979. She has lived in the district for the past 13 years. Soete has a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in social work from Adelphi University. She has been a state-certified social worker for 22 years and also earned a professional diploma in school district administration from Dowling College. She is a member of the Nassau County Community Emergency Response team, and was an emergency volunteer during superstorm Sandy. She served as Farmingdale High School PTA president from 2013 to 2015. Her two children are district school graduates.

ISSUES: Soete said she wants to serve on the school board because the system “provides opportunities in academics, arts, music and athletics for everybody, regardless of what their strength is.” She said, “It’s really important to get the word out to people, and more people need to know about the success of the Farmingdale community.” She said she would use social media to share the district’s virtues. Soete said, “One of the biggest problems — and it’s not just here — is bullying on social media. Whether it’s drugs or drinking and driving, we have to be very proactive.”

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