6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday at Weldon E. Howitt Middle School, 50 Van Cott Avenue.
The district proposes a $165,707,424 school budget for 2018-19, a 2.10 percent increase over the current $162,299,331. The tax levy would increase 2.98 percent from $120,240,900 to $123,823,161.
This increase is equal to the state’s tax-cap limit of 2.98 percent, so a simple majority will be required to approve the budget.
The district didn’t provide the dollar amount of the school tax paid on the average single-family home because it is located in two different county taxing jurisdictions.
The proposed school budget includes an average 2 percent step increase for teachers, but no contractual salary increase. Programs and staffing would stay at current levels.
Five candidates are running for three at-large seats: Korin Cloghessy, Raymond J. Webb and incumbents Mario Espinosa, Anthony Giordano and Kathy Lively. Terms are three years.
BACKGROUND: Cloghessy, 37, has lived in the district for 11 years. She works as a high school business teacher in the William Floyd School District. Cloghessy has a bachelor of science degree in marketing from LIU Post in Brookville and a master of education degree in business education from Hofstra University. She has three children, two of whom are attending district public schools and one beginning preschool in September. Cloghessy is vice president for fundraising and membership for the district’s Saltzman East Memorial PTA. This is her first run for the school board.
ISSUES: Cloghessy said that “equity amongst all of the schools” in the district is the most important issue facing the school board. “Currently there’s not much representation of elementary schools on the school board,” she said. “When you are experiencing elementary school education personally, as I do with two children in elementary school, you’re connected with the issues involved.” Cloghessy said there should be more time for play at the elementary school level. She continued, “There are districts on Long Island having great success with longer recess periods.” Cloghessy said, “I would like to see more board committees working with community members on instruction, facilities issues and school safety.” She added that district schools should host events which “bring community members together.”
BACKGROUND: Espinosa, 53, has lived in the district for 24 years. He taught Spanish at New Hyde Park High School for 16 years and at Wantagh High School since 2002. Espinosa has a bachelor of science degree in secondary education from St. John’s University in Queens, and a master of science degree in secondary education from Hofstra University. He has five children, two of whom currently attend district public schools. Espinosa is active in all seven district PTAs and is the school board representative to the Farmingdale Public Library board. Espinosa was elected to the Farmingdale School Board in 2015. He is running as a team with Giordano and Lively.
ISSUES: “My goal is to continue being an advocate for the district’s children,” Espinosa said. He and his fellow school board members “want to do everything possible to keep our children safe, especially after current events that have occurred around the country,” he said. “The kids are scared when anything unusual happens, and I want to make sure that all 6,000 kids are safe in our community.” Espinosa said that another of the district’s challenges is “to improve our student skills within the English as a New Language (ENL) program.” He said, “By improving the skills of our ENL students, we’ll see gradual improvement of all our test grades.”
BACKGROUND: Giordano, 51, has lived in the district for 20 years. He works as an assistant vice president at Deutsche Bank in Manhattan. Giordano has an associate degree from Nassau Community College and a bachelor of arts degree in finance from SUNY Old Westbury. Giordano has three children, one a district graduate and two currently attending district schools. Giordano is president of A&J Youth Sports, a nonprofit organization he founded to teach children how to play basketball. He is a trustee of the Farmingdale Youth Council, which provides funding for district after-school and summer programs. He is also the assistant vice president of the Farmingdale Aquatics Swim Club, a competitive club at Farmingdale High School. For the last two years Giordano has coached girls basketball for the St. Killian’s R.C. Church Catholic Youth Organization. Giordano was elected to the school board in 2015, and is running as a team with fellow incumbents Lively and Espinosa.
ISSUES: Giordano said he would continue to advocate for more state aid to reduce the financial burden on taxpayers. “With my finance background I know how the budget process works and how to ensure that we’re spending our tax dollars wisely,” he said, adding that Farmingdale is not receiving enough state aid and that he will “continue to talk to our local and state representatives to advocate for our schools for more state aid to keep the curriculum and everything else in place.” Giordano said that he would also “continue to enhance our already comprehensive school safety plans for all our students, faculty and workers in the Farmingdale district.” Giordano said he would help implement more safety enhancements after a district committee submits a comprehensive safety plan.
BACKGROUND: Lively, 60, has lived in the district for 25 years. Lively graduated from Bethpage High School in 1976 and earned a legal secretarial degree at Berkeley Secretarial School in Hicksville. Lively worked as a legal secretary for 15 years at a Manhattan law firm before leaving in the late 1980s to raise a family. She currently is a full-time homemaker and a notary public. Lively was elected to the school board 12 years ago. She currently serves on 10 school board committees including the safety and the legislative-action committees. Her three children graduated from district public schools. She running as a team with fellow incumbents Giordano and Espinosa.
ISSUES: “The most important issue facing our school district is presenting a budget that is educationally sound and fiscally responsible,” Lively said. The school board has remained within the district’s property tax cap and has provided a comprehensive educational program “as a result of long-term planning and a conservative budget approach,” she said, adding that she would “continue to examine expenditures to make sure that our tax dollars are being spent wisely.” Lively said she would also “make sure that our facilities are adequately maintained and refurbished, as they are the assets of our community.”
Raymond J. Webb, Jr.
BACKGROUND: Webb, 23, is a lifetime district resident and a 2013 graduate of Farmingdale High School. He works as a graduate assistant for the Office of Student Activities at the University at Albany, where he earned a bachelor of arts degree in political science, and expects to graduate this month with a master of science degree in educational policy and leadership. Webb is president of the campus Circle of Omicron Delta Kappa National Leadership Honor Society. He is a past board member of the University Auxiliary Services and past chairman of the student association board of directors. He is making his first run for the school board.
ISSUES: Webb said the biggest issues facing the district are “communication, collaboration, and inclusion amongst all stakeholders.” Webb said that the school board “must do a better job with outreach to the public.” He said that instead of depending on “word of mouth and social media” to get its message out, the school board should “establish a YouTube channel or livestream mechanism where the community can tune in to meetings.” In addition, Webb said, “The board should establish monthly review sessions with our teachers to hear their concerns.” Webb said that the district should restore funding for college prep courses. He said that these courses in subjects such as psychology, English and business prepare students for college and offer transfer credits which can count toward a degree.