VOTING

6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday at Massapequa High School and Fairfield, McKenna and Lockhart elementary schools.

 

THE BUDGET

The district proposes a $194,619,501 budget for 2017-18, a 2.57 percent increase from the current $189,746,159. The tax levy would increase 2.38 percent, from $152,455,005 to $156,090,323.

This increase is within the district’s tax-cap limit of 2.41 percent, so a simple majority will be required to approve the budget.

School taxes on the average single-family house would increase 2.38 percent, from $6,967 to $7,133.

The budget includes estimated teacher salary increases subject to negotiation. The proposed budget maintains the current level of programs and teacher staffing. A total of 12.5 sixth-grade teacher positions would be added.

 

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THE CANDIDATES

Incumbent Gary Baldinger and candidates Brian Butler and Janice Talento are running for two at-large seats. Baldinger and Talento are running as a team. Terms are three years.

Gary Baldinger

BACKGROUND: Baldinger, 53, has lived in the district for 42 years. He was a National Football League defensive lineman and special teams player from 1986 to 1993, playing for the Kansas City Chiefs and Buffalo Bills. He is now a medical sales executive for CryoLife in Atlanta. Baldinger has a bachelor’s degree in history from Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. He has four children who attended or are attending district schools. Elected to the school board three years ago, he currently serves as board secretary. Baldinger serves on the executive board of the St. Rose of Lima R.C. Church Catholic Youth Organization in Massapequa.

ISSUES: Baldinger said, “I have been committed to community service and working with our youth for 30 years. Being a board of education member was the next step in providing service to our community and the school district.” During his three years on the school board, he said Massapequa High School was named one of the best high schools in the nation by Newsweek. Baldinger said, “I want to continue to try to enrich the curriculum and provide more opportunities for all of the kids.” He added he would continue a program of “transforming and upgrading athletic facilities and infrastructure in our schools.”

Brian Butler

BACKGROUND: Butler, 39, is a real estate investor with his own company. Butler is a graduate of St. Dominic High School in Oyster Bay, and he studied at Nassau Community College and SUNY Empire State College. He is a lifelong resident of the district. Butler’s three children attend district schools. He is a volunteer coach for Massapequa Little League baseball and Massapequa Mustangs football.

ISSUES: Butler said he is a “fiscal conservative who understands the balance of keeping people’s hard-earned money in their pockets and properly spending on the children for a maximum return.” Butler proposes “forming a committee of special-needs parents” to provide “a direct line of communication to the board and administration.” If elected, Butler said he will propose a board resolution to rescind relocating the sixth grade from the elementary schools to Berner Junior High School. “My seat will be the people’s seat,” he said.

Janice Talento

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BACKGROUND: Talento, 55, has lived in the district for 24 years. She co-owns a company that assists Medicaid dentists with state incentives. Talento earned an associate degree in business from Nassau Community College, and earned additional credits in finance from Hofstra University. Talento served on the Massapequa school superintendent’s roundtable, an advisory board, from 2014 to 2016. Her three children attended district schools.

ISSUES: “My focus has always been to work with the youth in our community to build their strength and character for a successful future,” Talento said. “If elected, I would like to improve on our communication between the community and the board of education.” She said she would strengthen the school board’s ties “with elementary and secondary PTAs” and “reach out to our teachers who are with our children day in and day out to see how I could support them.” Talento added that she “will continue to work to maintain the district’s high standard of education while expanding our curriculum to keep pace with today’s times.”