TODAY'S PAPER
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Long IslandEducation

Half Hollow Hills school district

VOTING

7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday at Half Hollow Hills High School East.

THE BUDGET

The district proposes a $241,298,734 budget for 2016-17, a 1.11 percent increase from the current $238,658,101. The local tax levy would increase 0.18 percent, from $195,369,595 to $195,722,436.

This increase is equal to the district’s tax-cap limit of 0.18 percent, so a simple majority vote will be required to approve the budget. School taxes on the average single-family home in Huntington would increase 0.17 percent, from $10,119 to $10,136. For Babylon homeowners, similar school taxes would rise 0.18 percent, from $6,041 to $6,052.

The proposed budget includes teacher salary raises of 1 percent for contractual increases and midyear step increases of about 1.25 percent. It calls for adding one English as a New Language (ENL) teacher, five special education teachers, one speech therapist, one technology position for computer-assisted instruction, one support staff member for the guidance office, and security guards, as well as reduction of one elementary school teaching position because of declining enrollment. More after-school clubs also will be offered.

  • District website: hhh.k12.ny.us

THE CANDIDATES

Incumbents Eric Geringswald and David Kaston and candidate Laraine Rudy are vying for two at-large seats. Geringswald and Kaston are running as a team. Terms are three years.

Eric Geringswald

BACKGROUND: Geringswald, 53, is deputy compliance officer at Corporation Service Co. in Manhattan and has been on the board since 2009, becoming president in 2014-15. He has a bachelor’s degree in history from Washington College in Maryland. He is director of Hills Youth Lacrosse, vice president for lacrosse at the Nassau County Police Athletic League, board member of Long Island Metropolitan Lacrosse Foundation and president of the Half Hollow Hills Alumni Association. Geringswald has lived in the district for 39 years and his four children attend or attended district schools.

ISSUES: Geringswald said keeping the budget within the tax cap, ensuring Common Core is appropriately implemented and integrating technology are some of the challenges facing the district. He considers declining enrollment a “blessing and a curse” because it allows the district to reduce costs but could lead to job cuts down the line. Using reserves has helped. “Our tax levy is at the lowest level,” he said. “We’re trying to be fiscally responsible as well as responsive to the community.” Geringswald has been outspoken that Common Core testing has been unfairly implemented and said he will continue to advocate while following state rules. He supports new curriculum focused on learning through experience rather than lecture. “We are expanding programs, providing more educational opportunities for kids,” he said. “We’re also doing it in a way that values our teachers.”

David Kaston

BACKGROUND: Kaston, 52, is a managing partner at Kaston & Aberle law firm and was elected to the board in 2012. He has a bachelor’s degree in economics and a master’s of business administration from Clark University in Massachusetts, and a law degree from Boston University. He is president of Sweet Hollow Farms Home Owners’ Association and is an intramural and traveling league coach for basketball and flag football. Kaston has lived in the district 15 years and his three children attend or have attended district schools.

ISSUES: Kaston said advocating for changes to state-mandated Common Core implementation and managing costs while increasing offerings are among the district’s biggest challenges. “Our focal point should be and always is the students,” Kaston said about curriculum needs and ensuring that Common Core testing is age-appropriate. “We want to maintain local control of how we teach it and implement it,” he said. “I think our voice is being heard both from the board point of view and from the parent point of view.” He supports investing in technology-related curriculum, equipment and faculty. Kaston said he will work to make the district more transparent, noting that all board and committee meetings are videotaped and available online.

Laraine Rudy

BACKGROUND: Rudy, 61, is a special education teacher at H. Frank Carey High School in Franklin Square. She has been a teacher for 27 years, with 25 of those in special education. She has a bachelor’s degree in physical education from the College of Mount Saint Vincent and a dual master’s in special education and elementary education from LIU Post. She is the Carey High School yearbook adviser and has been kickline coach and union representative. She also spent 17 years as a training supervisor for Northwest Airlines. Rudy has lived in the district for 49 years, and her two children attended district schools. She plans to retire next year but wants to stay involved in education.

ISSUES: Rudy said she believes the district needs to be proactive in cutting costs while giving students more opportunity to explore technology. She favors starting all new teachers at the lowest step, or salary level, regardless of experience. As teachers change steps, salaries increase, and Rudy believes the district still would attract quality teachers at lower pay rates who love the profession and care about students. “I think there are ways to cut taxes without taxing or overtaxing,” Rudy said. “I just don’t think people should pay more than they have to.” The district has a reputation for providing excellent special education services, she said, and she supports maintaining and adding to that program so students can stay in their home district. “When you have a child with a disability, it’s not always easy to find services in your home district,” Rudy said.

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