TODAY'S PAPER
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Long IslandEducation

Harborfields

VOTING

2 to 9 p.m. at Oldfield Middle School.

THE BUDGET

The district is proposing an $84,174,956 budget for 2017-18, a 1.59 percent increase from the current $82,859,569.

The tax levy would increase 1.68 percent, from $62,163,101 to $63,205,986.

This increase is equal to the district’s tax-cap limit, so a simple majority vote will be required to approve the budget.

The dollar amount of the school tax paid on the average single-family house would increase 1.73 percent, from $9,825 to $9,995.

The proposed budget includes a 2 percent salary increase for teachers, but no step increase. Two full-time teacher positions would be eliminated because of declining enrollment.

THE CANDIDATES

Four candidates are vying for two at-large seats: David Steinberg, an incumbent, Christopher Kelly, Lauri Levenberg and Anila Nitekman. Terms are three years.

Christopher Kelly

BACKGROUND: Kelly, 46, has lived in the district for nine years. He is a market data business adviser. Kelly earned a bachelor’s degree from George Washington University. He served as the district’s Council of PTAs get-out-the-vote chair in 2014 and 2016. Kelly has been a coach for the past seven years for Northport Youth Center Soccer League. He has three children, two of whom are attending district public schools; one is not yet of school age.

ISSUES: Kelly said the district’s “outstanding academic record” spurred him to move to the district. “With three young daughters, I am committed to the Harborfields School District for the long term.” Kelly said his “unique set of analytical skills” learned in 20 years in the financial markets business can be used to help the district budget and save money. “I feel we need to develop better long-term planning to anticipate and manage future budget challenges,” he said. Kelly said the district’s most pressing issue is “continuing to maintain the high standard of excellence while facing the reality of budget constraints brought on by the New York State tax-cap system.”

Lauri Levenberg

BACKGROUND: Levenberg, 48, has lived in the district for 22 years. She is a speech therapist for the Three Village school district. Levenberg has a bachelor’s degree from Hofstra University and a master’s degree in speech pathology, also from Hofstra. She is a member of Temple Beth El of Huntington, where she formerly was vice president of education, a board trustee and religious school chairperson. She has three children who attended or are attending district schools.

ISSUES: Levenberg said her “insight and perspective” as a resident and educator would benefit the school board. The most important issue facing the district, she said, is “how to provide an education for the whole child while remaining fiscally responsible to our community.” Levenberg said that her experience with Temple Beth El’s education program provides examples of how to enhance existing district programs. “I believe that every child deserves a plan to succeed, regardless of path or ability,” she said, adding that organizational changes and program enhancements in the district “can help each child, and therefore, the Harborfields community, to progress toward excellence.”

Anila Nitekman

BACKGROUND: Nitekman, 44, has lived in the district for 13 years. She is the owner and inventor of kitchen scissors for cutting up children’s food. Nitekman previously worked as director of strategic partnerships and marketing for New York City’s marketing and tourism organization, and she served on the NY Rising task force. Nitekman studied at SUNY Oneonta and the New York Institute of Technology. Nitekman has two children attending district schools, and she is a fifth-grade class parent representative at Thomas J. Lahey Elementary School.

ISSUES: Nitekman said if she is elected, the school board would benefit from her “extensive background in developing successful marketing partnerships.” She said she would help the district develop a strategic partnership program with local businesses, nonprofits and universities to “allow our school district to tap into a completely new revenue source providing us with funding to enhance and expand our educational and enrichment programs.” She added, “I am especially interested in working with the administration to develop a robust STEAM [Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics] curriculum.” Nitekman proposes forming boards comprised of teachers, and of local business leaders, to advise the district in “best practices.”

David Steinberg

BACKGROUND: Steinberg, 44, has lived in the district for eight years. He is the dean of students, coordinator of student activities and coordinator of professional development at Syosset High School. He has a bachelor’s degree from Queens College and a master’s degree in education with an advanced certificate in educational technologies from Stony Brook University. He was elected to the school board in 2014 and is its vice president. He is a member of the district’s James Brennan Scholarship Committee, treasurer of the Syosset Scholarship Fund and coaches for the Elwood Youth Soccer League. His three children attend district schools.

ISSUES: Steinberg said he is “highly invested in the education of all” district students. Steinberg said he’s proud to have worked with fellow board members to add full-day kindergarten at Washington Drive Primary School, hire a librarian for the primary school and Thomas J. Lahey Elementary School and add electives at Harborfields High School. Steinberg said that as a board member he also participated in hiring a new school superintendent, approving tax breaks for residents who are military veterans and passing a capital improvement bond that “updates and enhances” facilities in school buildings and athletic fields.

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