6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday at Massapequa High School, and the Fairfield, McKenna and Lockhart elementary schools.
The district proposes a $199,808,099 school budget for 2018-19, a 2.67 percent increase from the current $194,619,501. The local tax levy would rise 1.93 percent, from $156,090,323 to $159,106,027.
The increase is within the district’s tax cap limit of 2.02 percent, so a simple majority will be required to approve the budget. School taxes on the average single-family house would increase 1.93 percent, from $7,436.17 to $7,579.69.
The proposed budget includes a 1 percent contractual increase and a 1.44 percent step increase for teachers. It maintains the current level of programs and teacher staffing.
A ballot proposition asks voter approval to spend $15.34 million to build an aquatic center at Alfred G. Berner Middle School.
Four candidates are seeking two at-large seats: Jeanine Caramore, Tina Cardali, Rose Stein and Kerry Wachter. Incumbents Maryanne Fisher and Joe LaBella are not seeking re-election.
BACKGROUND: Caramore, 44, has lived in the district more than 40 years. Caramore worked as a guidance counselor for the Bellmore-Merrick Central High School District from 2007 to 2010 and works as a part-time SAT and ACT tutor for Future U, a private educational company in Woodbury. Caramore is a 1991 graduate of Massapequa High School. She received a bachelor of arts degree in psychology from Boston College, a master of arts degree in child development from Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts, a master of science degree in school counseling from LIU Post in Brookville and a juris doctor law degree from Boston College Law School in Chestnut, Massachusetts. Caramore, a second-degree black belt, is an instructor for the Police Athletic League Shotokan karate programs in Massapequa, Wantagh and Seaford. She is a board member of the Michael Manzella Foundation, which supports cancer research and other causes. Caramore has two children attending district public schools. This is her first run for the school board.
ISSUES: Caramore said that the most important issue facing Massapequa is school safety. Caramore said she would address school safety by advocating for the formation of a committee consisting of security personnel, building administrators, teachers, students and parents. She said the committee would “discuss potential security concerns that can then be addressed by our security firm.” Caramore said that she would also promote creation of a comprehensive mental health program in the schools. She said the program “will assist students with basic coping strategies and reduce the likelihood of violent, bullying, self-destructive and substance-abuse behaviors.”
BACKGROUND: Cardali, 49, an independent financial consultant, has lived in the district for 13 years. Cardali has a bachelor of arts degree in accounting and finance from Queens College, CUNY, in Flushing, Queens. Cardali has one child, who attended district schools through 2014, and is studying at a private school for children with disabilities. Cardali volunteers with Massapequa Takes Action Coalition, an organization targeting substance abuse in the community. This is her first run for the school board.
ISSUES: Cardali said the most important issues facing the district are safety and security. “Because of everything that’s going on in the schools these days, we have to review what we are doing as far as armed security, mental health and training your staff on how to handle school violence,” Cardali said. She added, “I’d like the teachers in the school trained in how to handle emotional and social behaviors.” Cardali said that if elected, she would want to ensure that the community would get more detailed information about school budgets. Cardali said, “The public is funding the lion’s share of the school budget, therefore they should have more information at their fingertips and it should be easier to dissect.” Cardali said, “The community needs to be heard, and the board must listen to what the community is asking for.”
BACKGROUND: Stein, 38, a high school English teacher at St. Francis Preparatory School in Fresh Meadows, Queens, has lived in the district for nine years. Stein has a bachelor of arts degree in English and secondary education from Queens College, CUNY, in Flushing, Queens, and a master of science degree in English and secondary education from Molloy College in Rockville Centre. She is a PTA committee chairwoman at the Unqua Elementary School and served as the school’s PTA president from 2012 to 2014. Stein was a member of the superintendent’s roundtable committee, which met several years ago to discuss school district issues, and she is a former vice president of the Massapequa Council of PTAs. Stein is a curriculum leader for the Holy Name of Mary School in Valley Stream, and a catechism teacher for St. Rose of Lima R.C. Church in Massapequa. Stein’s three children attend district public schools. This is her first run for the school board.
ISSUES: Stein said that, if elected, she would bring to the board “many years of experience as a middle school and high schoolteacher.” She said her experience as an educator provides a “unique perspective to work closely with our district administration to guarantee Massapequa is providing the strongest fiscally responsible education program it can offer.” Stein continued, “One of my main goals as a board trustee will be to make sure we provide the strongest safety and security measures for our students and staff within the school environment.” Stein said another goal would be to strengthen communication between the school board, the district administration and the community.
BACKGROUND: Wachter, 45, a bookkeeper solely responsible for accounting at two churches on Long Island, has lived in the district for 19 years. Wachter is a 1990 graduate of Grover Cleveland High School in Ridgewood, Queens. She received 59 credits in liberal arts and accounting at Queensborough Community College in Bayside, Queens, but did not complete a degree. Wachter is president of the McKenna Elementary School PTA, and she chairs the Massapequa Council of PTAs curriculum committee. Wachter is a member of the school board’s budget and finance committee. She is a den leader for Cub Scout Pack 776 in Massapequa and a Sunday school teacher at North Shore Community Church in Oyster Bay. Wachter’s three children attend district public schools.
ISSUES: Wachter said that attending school board meetings and participating in school district committees and district PTAs for nearly a decade have given her “the experience necessary to perform my oversight responsibilities in a way that ensures transparency and accountability.” Wachter said that most important issue facing the school district is “finding ways we can continue to innovate and add excellent educational programs, while remaining on the cutting edge of school safety, and keeping taxes under the 2 percent tax cap.” Wachter said that if elected, she would use her experience in accounting and community advocacy “to ensure our budgets are reasonable” and “responsible to all our students, staff and taxpayers.” She added, “I will work with our director of security to maintain our proactive approach to school safety by enacting the most up-to-date security measures.”