TODAY'S PAPER
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Long IslandEducation

Hempstead school district

VOTING

7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday at Alverta B. Gray Schultz Middle School.

THE BUDGET

The district proposes a $215,075,440 budget for 2018-19, a 6.11 percent increase from the current $202,696,297. The tax levy would be $75,934,370, the same amount as that of the current school year.

This increase is within the district’s allowable levy of $79,796,682 and tax-cap limit of 5.1 percent, so a simple majority will be required to approve the budget.

The district said it could not calculate the amount of taxes the owner of an average single-family home would pay under the proposed budget because Nassau County has not provided the necessary assessment information.

Teacher raises have not yet been negotiated, according to the district.

The proposed budget includes the addition of three reading teachers and three music teachers. It also provides for hiring of a districtwide response intervention coordinator.

Voters will decide a proposition authorizing a $46,844,112 bond issue to demolish and replace the long-closed Marguerite G. Rhodes School, which would eliminate the need for nearly half of all portable classrooms in the district. The project’s costs would be offset by state aid, leaving a remaining taxpayer-funded balance of $16,016,262. A resident with a tax bill of $5,000 annually would see an increase of about $80.

District website:

www.hempsteadschools.org

THE CANDIDATES

Incumbents Maribel Touré and Gwendolyn Jackson and candidates Carmen Ayala and Patricia Spleen are vying for two at-large seats. Terms are three years.

Carmen Ayala

BACKGROUND: Ayala, a 1994 graduate of the Hempstead school district, is a vice president of sales and operations for a global fashion technology company. She declined to give her age and the name of the company. Ayala earned her bachelor’s degree in engineering and management from Clarkson University. She attended graduate market research classes at Columbia University. She is on the executive committee of the NAACP Hempstead branch as ACT-SO chairwoman. Ayala serves on the executive board of Hempstead for Hempstead and has relatives, including nieces and nephews, who attend schools in the district. She and Spleen are running as a team.

ISSUES: There are three main issues that are most important to Ayala. First, academic excellence, and “that means a sharp focus on learning and achievement,” she said. Second, operational efficiency, including a safe environment, ensuring facilities are adequate, and making sure that the administration and teachers are “fully supported through responsible policy and operating procedures,” she said. And lastly, fiscal responsibility. “It’s really ensuring, again, that the district has transparency, that they have systems in place, that they are staying true to what the community voted on, and accountability,” Ayala said.

Gwendolyn Jackson

BACKGROUND: Jackson, a district resident for more than 30 years, is the current board vice president and is running for her second term. She declined to disclose her age. Jackson 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. She and Touré are running as a team.

ISSUES: Improving student performance and fiscal responsibility are among Jackson’s top priorities. “We’re talking years and years that our children have not been doing well. It’s not because they’re not capable,” she said. “It’s because we have people in positions of authority who, for whatever reason, are not making sure that this happens.” If re-elected, Jackson said she will continue to be the “eyes and ears” for the community, keeping them informed of what’s going on in the district. “I think it’s about asking why and answering those questions,” she said.

Patricia Spleen

BACKGROUND: Spleen, who did not provide her age or occupation, has lived in the district for 37 years. She is a student at Nassau Community College. She has served as president, vice president, treasurer and secretary of the PTA/PTSO and currently serves on the Hempstead High School Community Engagement Team. She and Ayala are running as a team.

ISSUES: The most important issues facing the Hempstead district are with curriculum and instruction, Spleen wrote on a candidate information form returned to Newsday. “To bring about the change we need the full engagement of the guidance counselor, teacher and outside experts,” she wrote.

Maribel Touré

BACKGROUND: Touré, 56, a resident of the district for 14 years, has been on the board since 2014 and serves as its president. She is a certified mammographer and X-ray technologist, working for New York University at Bellevue Hospital Center in Manhattan. She graduated from the National Autonomous University of Mexico, where she received a degree in biochemistry. She also is a graduate of LaGuardia Community College’s EMT program. She is a member of New York Communities for Change and The Corridor Counts, and is on the advisory and executive committees of 1199 SEIU Child Care Funds. Her children previously attended Hempstead schools. She and Jackson are running as a team.

ISSUES: The main issues facing the district are corruption, mismanagement and fraud, Touré said. If she and Jackson win re-election, she said, they will be “the ears and the eyes for the community and tell the community what is going on inside the board.” Touré said she’s been working very hard to “unite the community.” “The main responsibilities of the board members are to protect the taxpayers’ money, number one, and to look for a better education for the students,” she said.

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