TODAY'S PAPER
67° Good Evening
67° Good Evening

BUDGET

SPENDING $221,507,736, a 3 percent increase from the current $215,075,440.

TAX LEVY No increase, remains at $75,934,370, the same amount as for the 2018-19 and 2017-18 school years. This is within the district's 1.2 percent tax-cap limit, so a simple majority vote is required for approval.

TEACHER PAY / PROGRAMS Includes an increase of 1.8 percent and an average step increase of about 3 percent. The proposed budget makes nearly $10.3 million in cuts, including the elimination of 100 teacher, administrator, teacher assistant and support staff positions, along with the elimination of contracted programs with BOCES, contracted legal services and a cut in leasing costs.

PROPOSITIONS

Proposition 2 would establish a capital reserve fund of $20 million, plus interest, to pay for capital improvements, including districtwide health and safety repairs and maintenance and upgrades of facilities and systems. Approval of the proposition will not affect the tax levy.

WHEN | WHERE

7 a.m. to 9 p.m. at Alverta B. Gray Schultz Middle School. www.hempsteadschools.org

CANDIDATES

Seven candidates for running for two seats, elected at-large — incumbents David B. Gates and LaMont E. Johnson, as well as Wayne J. Hall, Gwen Jackson, Sherina Lucas, Robert Miller and Maribel Touré. Terms are three years.

David B. Gates

BACKGROUND Gates, 55, has lived in the district for 20 years. He is senior pastor of Miracle Christian Center in Hempstead, owns a marketing firm and until this month was village administrator of Hempstead. Gates has a bachelor’s degree in business management and economics from Empire State College, and bachelor’s and master’s degrees in religious education, and a doctorate in sacred theology from Manhattan-based United Christian College. He is president of the Hempstead branch of the NAACP and chief of staff of the Long Island Conference of Clergy. He was appointed to the school board in March 2016 and elected in May 2016. He and Robert Miller are running as a team.

KEY ISSUE Gates said students should attend regular classes while they are suspended — many suspensions now are served out of school — and receive conflict-resolution counseling before or after school, to try to prevent future problems. “Even though you have an issue and you may have been suspended, you have to continue learning so when you come back into the [classroom] setting there won’t be any gaps relative to what you’re missing, because you wouldn’t have missed a beat,” he said.

Wayne J. Hall

BACKGROUND Hall, 72, served as the mayor of Hempstead Village for 12 years until he was defeated in the March 2017 election. He has lived in the district for 41 years. Hall is a U.S. Army veteran with an associate degree in applied science from what now is known as the New York City College of Technology, a bachelor’s degree in biology from York College, and a certificate from a leadership program on local government at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. He also is a Catholic Youth Organization track coach, serves as a referee for high school basketball games and is past president of the Hempstead Little League.

KEY ISSUE Hall said critical to improving the district’s low graduation rate is “identifying problems earlier and not waiting until high school, when it may too late.” For example, if problems are identified in sixth grade, remedial programs and an examination of why a child has a behavioral problem, and addressing that problem, would make it more likely the child would graduate high school, he said. Nearby colleges could help in the effort, he said.

Gwen Jackson

BACKGROUND Gwen Jackson has been a district resident for more than 30 years; she declined to give her age. She is a retired Nassau BOCES teacher of the hearing-impaired. She earned her bachelor's degree in speech pathology and audiology from Ithaca College, a master's degree in deaf education from Smith College, and a professional diploma in school administration from LIU Post. She serves on the board of the Nassau Reading Council. Jackson was elected to the board in May 2015 and was the board’s vice president when she ran unsuccessfully for re-election in May 2018. She and Maribel Touré are running as a team.

KEY ISSUE Improving the district’s graduation rate, which in 2018 was 44.3 percent, is a top priority, she said. “That is devastating,” Jackson said. “In this world, in this economy, you cannot have less than half of your kids graduating from high school, [more than half] dropping out, not having a future.” She backs creating an oversight committee comprised of people with financial expertise to monitor spending, which she said is being mismanaged.

LaMont E. Johnson

BACKGROUND Johnson, 47, is a Hempstead Village trustee and a member of the board of the Hempstead Town Industrial Development Agency. A Hempstead High School graduate, he studied at Nassau Community College and said he is working on a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice at a Long Island college that he declined to identify. He formerly worked as an officer in the New York Police Department and the Hempstead Village Police Department. He is associate treasurer of the Hempstead NAACP and president of the Hempstead Heights Civic Association. Johnson has been on the school board since 2013 and is the board president.

KEY ISSUE “The major issue is getting the students prepared for a global economy and getting them prepared for college, and giving them an education where they don’t have to take remedial courses when they go to college,” he said. The district should offer more programs for gifted students and more Advanced Placement courses, so “they’re on a level playing field” in college.

Sherina Lucas

BACKGROUND Lucas, who is in her 30s, was an unsuccessful candidate for the Hempstead Village board in the March 2017 election. She was a real estate broker in 2017.

KEY ISSUE Lucas did not respond to requests for background and issues statements. 

Robert Miller

BACKGROUND Miller, 58, has spent most of his life in Hempstead, except for about 17 years when he lived in the Roosevelt school district. Miller, a Hempstead High School graduate, studied criminal justice at what now is Kutztown University in Pennsylvania and electrical engineering at North Carolina A & T State University. He drives a sanitation truck for Hempstead Village. He formerly served as a lieutenant in the Hempstead Volunteer Fire Department. Miller served on the Roosevelt school district’s board for one three-year term; his 2015 re-election bid was unsuccessful and afterward he moved back to Hempstead. He and David B. Gates are running as a team.

KEY ISSUE Miller said the district needs to provide more training for students who do not want to attend college. “When I graduated from Hempstead High School, we had automotive, we had electrical shop, wood shop,” he said. “All that stuff is gone now. We need to bring it back to our community … [so] you could learn how to service your own vehicle or maybe go into automotive, maybe an 18-month program, and learn your livelihood like that.”

Maribel Touré

BACKGROUND Touré, 57, has lived in Hempstead since 2004. A certified mammographer and X-ray technologist, she received a biochemistry degree from the National Autonomous University of Mexico. She also graduated from LaGuardia Community College’s Emergency Medical Technician program. Touré is active in New York Communities for Change and The Corridor Counts, and serves on committees for the Child Care Funds of 1199/SEIU, a health care workers union. She first was elected to the board in a special election in October 2014, won a full three-year term in May 2015 and was president of the board when she was defeated in the May 2018 election. She and Gwen Jackson are running as a team. 

KEY ISSUE Reducing wasteful spending — including on legal and administrative expenses — and targeting money at improving educational programs is critical, Touré said. Hempstead spends about as much or more money per student than some nearby districts, but “the money is being misused,” she said. “The situation in Hempstead is not that we don’t have the money. We have the money. But the money isn’t being allocated to the students.”

Latest Long Island News