6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday at North Country Road Middle School.
The district proposes a $70,602,887 budget for 2016-17, a 0.85 percent increase from the current $70,006,880. The tax levy would decrease by 0.14 percent, from $44,819,949 to $44,757,730.
This decrease is equal to the district’s tax-cap limit of -0.14 percent, so a simple majority vote will be required to approve the budget. School taxes on the average single-family house would decrease by 0.14 percent, from $8,303.84 to $8,292.31.
The proposed budget includes a 0.4 percent contractual salary increase and a 2.89 percent step increase for teachers.
- District website:
Incumbents Noelle Dunlop and Johanna Testa and candidates Michael Manspeizer and Michael Unger are vying for two at-large seats. Terms are three years.
BACKGROUND: Dunlop, 44, has lived in the district for 13 years. She has a bachelor’s degree in biology from Yale University and a master’s in library and information science from Simmons College in Boston. She has three children, two currently attending district schools and one entering kindergarten in the fall. Dunlop is a parent leader of the Miller Place Explorers 4H Club and of Girl Scout Troop 960 in Miller Place. She is interim chair of the Miller Place Friends of the Arts. Dunlop was elected to the board in 2013.
ISSUES: Dunlop said that since she was elected three years ago, she has worked “within the tax cap to expand opportunities of all of our students.” To improve student safety during what she called a “contentious election year,” she said the district should consolidate polling places at the high school instead of having separate polling places at the elementary and middle schools. Dunlop said she will work to place a crossing guard at the intersection of Route 25A and Miller Place Road. She explained, “It’s a very busy four-lane highway where there are lots of accidents.” She noted that the district has introduced a Pep Band, science and art clubs and other programs “to enrich the students’ experience.”
BACKGROUND: Manspeizer, 56, is a program manager for Cisco Systems in Manhattan and has lived in the district for 12 years. He has a bachelor’s degree in political science from SUNY New Paltz. He took graduate courses at Brooklyn College and has a Project Management Professional certificate from the Project Management Institute. Manspeizer has two children, one a district graduate and one currently attending a district public school. Manspeizer was elected to the school board in 2013 to complete the unexpired term of another school board member who had resigned. He lost an election bid last year.
ISSUES: Manspeizer said the district’s taxes are too high. Although this year’s proposed budget increase is 0.85 percent, he said, “that translates to half a million dollars in expenditures.” He said that the per-student cost increased by 24.6 percent from 2011 to 2015. Manspeizer said he wants to return to the school board to assist in the search for a new school superintendent, a decision that he said will affect the direction of the district’s education and property values for years to come.
BACKGROUND: Testa, 49, is a credit representative for Maggio Environmental, a recycling and sanitation company in Yaphank. She has lived in Miller Place for 17 years. Testa has an associate degree in business from Queens College. Testa has a child and three grandchildren attending district public schools. Testa served as the vice president of programs for the Miller Place parent-teacher organization from 2011 to 2013. She was elected to the school board in 2013, served as board vice president from 2014-15 and currently is board president.
ISSUES: Testa said she supports “maintaining existing programs and expanding opportunities” in STEM — science, technology, engineering and mathematics — in what she called “a tax cap environment.” Testa said she will “continue to be part of responsible and conservative financial planning” in the district. Testa said she opposes “the over-regulation by the state and federal government, leading to unfunded mandates and a one-size-fits-all process.” She said that as a board member she would “continue to meet with our elected officials to hear what obstacles our children are facing in getting the quality education that Miller Place has a history of giving.”
BACKGROUND: Unger, 53, has lived in the district for 12 years. Unger, a certified public accountant, is chief financial officer of a municipal equipment firm on Long Island. Unger has a bachelor’s in accountancy degree from Villanova University. Unger was elected to the board in 2009, and was board president for two years. In 2015, he declined to seek re-election, citing personal reasons. Unger has children attending district schools. He has been a youth basketball coach locally for 25 years, and is the founder, director and a coach of the St. Louis de Montfort R.C. Church Catholic Youth Organization basketball program in Sound Beach.
ISSUES: Unger said, “During my six-year tenure on the board, we eliminated painful budget meetings, added full-day kindergarten, proposed and completed a bond upgrading all schools and created one of the top-rated fiscal districts.” Unger continued, “There is much work to do including the completion of a five-year fiscal plan and starting the process of reducing class sizes in the elementary schools.” He said, “I am an expert in school district finance and my children have 42 years of schooling in our district, giving me the most overall experience of any candidate.” Unger said, “I am a tireless advocate for all district children and residents and truly enjoy being a trustee.”