TODAY'S PAPER
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Long IslandEducation

North Bellmore school district

VOTING

6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday at Newbridge Road Elementary School.

THE BUDGET

The district is proposing a budget of $57,228,137 for the 2018-19 school year, a 3.45 percent increase from the current $55,321,132. The local tax levy would rise 3.40 percent from $37,010,640 to $38,269,002.

This increase is within the district’s tax-cap limit of 3.40 percent. However, because of transportation ballot initiatives that would break the tax cap limit, the budget will have to be approved by a 60 percent supermajority.

The dollar amount of the school tax paid on an average single-family home would rise 3.41 percent, from $3,932 to $4,066. The budget includes a 1.6 percent step increase for teachers and estimated teacher salary increases subject to negotiations. Ten teacher positions, one administrative assistant position and one building and grounds worker position would be cut.

Three propositions are on the ballot. One asks voters to choose from among three public transportation eligibility formulas for the 2018-19 school year. Choice A would change bus transportation eligibility for grade 4 to 6 students from the current 1-mile limit to one-half mile, at an approximate additional cost of $610,000. Choice B would eliminate all bus transportation except for K-6 students who reside more than 2 miles from school, resulting in approximately $450,000 in savings. Choice C would maintain current limits of one-half mile for K-3 students and 1 mile for grades 4 to 6.

Another proposition changes the eligibility for nonpublic transportation from the current 15-mile limit to 17.5 miles from a student’s home to the school, at a cost of approximately $100,000.

The ballot also includes the proposed 2018-19 Bellmore-Merrick Central High School District budget of $159,788,043.

District website:

www.northbellmoreschools.org

THE CANDIDATES

Four candidates are running for two at-large seats: Tara Casucci, Jeannie Shipman and incumbents Melissa Cmar-Grote and Nina Lanci. Terms are three years.

Tara Casucci

BACKGROUND: Casucci, 48, works as a secretary in the principal’s office at W. Tresper Clarke High School in East Meadow. Casucci was raised in Valley Stream. She has an associate degree in applied science from Nassau Community College. Casucci served as a PTA president in Valley Stream District 13. She coached for the Valley Stream Soccer Club in 2011 and taught religion at Holy Name of Mary R.C. Church, also in Valley Stream. In 2015, Casucci moved to North Bellmore. Casucci serves on the North Bellmore special education PTA executive board. Casucci has a child attending a district school. This is her first run for the school board.

ISSUES: Casucci said that since moving into North Bellmore, she has attended school board meetings to learn about the district and its schools. Casucci said the district is “faced with challenges due to the tax cap,” and added, “We have the potential to be under fiscal stress.” Casucci said that if elected, she would urge the district “to be in constant contact with local and state representatives to help us to get back our fair share of state aid.” Casucci said, “I want to work in partnership with the board, administration, local and state representatives and the state education department to try to maintain our programs and to preserve as much as we can.”

Melissa Cmar-Grote

BACKGROUND: Cmar-Grote, 42, has lived in the district for 17 years. Cmar-Grote received an associate degree in liberal arts from Nassau Community College and a bachelor of science degree in clinical laboratory science from Stony Brook University. She works as a medical microbiologist at Sunrise Medical Laboratories in Hicksville. Cmar-Grote’s two children attend district public schools. Cmar-Grote served as co-president of the district’s Saw Mill Road PTA from 2009 to 2011 and again from 2013 to 2015. Cmar-Grote has been a leader of Girl Scout Troop 976 in North Bellmore since 2012. Cmar-Grote was elected to the North Bellmore school board in 2015 and currently serves as the board vice president. She is running as a team with fellow board member Nina Lanci.

ISSUES: Cmar-Grote said the most important issue facing the district is “growing and improving our programs under the financial constraints of the tax cap.” Cmar-Grote said that during her first three-year term, she has “gained the knowledge and experience needed to be an asset to the North Bellmore School Board.” Cmar-Grote said that she and school board president Peter Mayo recently met with high level state officials to discuss how “state aid calculations are not keeping pace with what we need to spend to give our students the education they deserve.” Cmar-Grote said she would continue to press for more state aid for the district in her second term.

Nina Lanci

BACKGROUND: Lanci, 55, has lived in the district for 28 years. Lanci received a bachelor of business administration degree in accounting from Adelphi University. Lanci is president of the Community Parent Center, which offers community programs, and treasurer of the Bellmore Lions Club. From 2016 to 2017 Lanci was district governor of the Lions of Nassau County. She also serves as the treasurer of the General Building Laborers Local 66 Charitable Foundation in Melville. Lanci has a child who attended district schools and graduated from Wellington C. Mepham High School in the Bellmore-Merrick Central High School District. Lanci was appointed to the school board in 2003, and lost an election in 2011. She was elected again in 2012. Lanci also serves as a trustee of the Bellmore-Merrick Central High School District. Lanci is running as a team with fellow incumbent Cmar-Grote.

ISSUES: Lanci said that school district operating costs increase every year due to unfunded mandates and contractual employee benefits such as health care. However, Lanci said, the district has “a budget that maintains programs and gives the kids the best opportunities without burdening our taxpayers any further. Lanci said, “You can have an ordinary education or an extraordinary education. We’re trying to give kids an extraordinary education.”

Jeannie Shipman

BACKGROUND: Shipman, 53, has lived in the district for 25 years. Shipman is a New York State licensed real estate broker in Nassau County. Shipman is owner of Absolute Expediting & Building Services Inc. in Bellmore, which assists in obtaining residential and commercial development permits. Shipman attended a district public school when her family lived in the community in the 1970s. Shipman graduated from Valley Stream North High School in 1983 and served as an airman in the U.S. Air Force from 1983 to 1985. She worked from 1985 to 1988 as a civilian laboratory technician at the Wiesbaden Regional Medical Center in Germany. Shipman has two children, both of whom attend public school in the Bellmore-Merrick Central High School District. This is her first run for the school board.

ISSUES: Shipman said she is running for the school board because, “I want to make a difference as far as our taxes, and what are they paying for.” Shipman said that the five Bellmore-Merrick school districts, including four elementary districts and a high school district, should be consolidated into one. “I don’t know how feasible that is to do, but it’s definitely worth a serious look,” Shipman said. “With five districts there is the possibility of too much overspending.” Shipman said, “Although I may not be as well versed in the ongoing business of the board as others in the district, I am willing to learn.”

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