TODAY'S PAPER
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Long IslandEducation

North Merrick

VOTING

6:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday at North Merrick Public Library.

THE BUDGET

The district proposes a $31,389,464 budget for 2017-18, an increase of 2.05 percent from the current $30,757,827. The tax levy would increase 2.99 percent, from $21,384,450 to $22,024,914.

This increase is within the district’s tax-cap limit of 3.17 percent, so a simple majority will be required to approve the budget.

School taxes on the average single-family house would increase 2.99 percent, from $4,532.58 to $4,668.11.

The proposed budget includes a salary increase of 0.5 percent and an average 1.09 percent step increase for teachers. Current staffing and program levels would be maintained.

A proposition would authorize changing school board elections from by-seat to at-large, effective as of next year’s election. Candidates currently run for specific seats. Voters also will be asked to approve the Bellmore-Merrick Central High School District’s 2017-18 budget of $153,666,863. Another proposition asks voters to allow the high school district to spend more than $1.5 million from a capital reserve fund to cover infrastructure improvements.

THE CANDIDATES

There are three by-seat positions open. Incumbent Jonathan Butler is being challenged by Edward Corona. Incumbent Lisa Katz is being challenged by Tracey Miller. Incumbent Todd Ransom is running unopposed. Butler and Katz are running as a team, and Corona and Miller are running as a team. Terms are three years.

Jonathan Butler

BACKGROUND: Butler, 62, has lived in the district for 35 years. He is a retired New York City Board of Education educational evaluator and special education teacher in Queens. Butler has a bachelor’s degree from York College, and a master’s degree in special education and a professional diploma in educational administration and supervision, both from LIU Post. Butler is a member of the district’s PTAs and a member of the North Merrick Civic Association. Butler’s two children graduated from district schools. He was elected to the school board in 1996.

ISSUES: Butler said the biggest issue facing the district is “how to maintain as well as increase quality education programs that are meant to provide deeper learning for our students while working within the fiscal constraints set upon us.” Butler said that the district’s new superintendent is “very creative and is enhancing the science program” in the district. Butler said he’s pleased that “with the new superintendent, all staff development is done in house” instead of off-campus. As a result, Butler said, “we don’t have to pay for substitute teachers, and we have continuity of education.”

Edward Corona

BACKGROUND: Corona, 54, has lived in the district for 22 years. He is a high school math teacher in the North Shore district. Corona has a bachelor’s degree from SUNY Oswego and a master’s degree in mathematics from Stony Brook University. Corona is a member of the state track and field committee of the New York Public High School Athletic Association. His three children attended district schools.

ISSUES: Corona said if elected, he would “advise parents of their rights to opt out of New York State testing.” Corona said he would “help develop district policy as it pertains to state testing to reflect the sentiments of our district parents and educators.” Corona said that there is a “lack of transparency with board of education activities.” He said that he would bring about change to the district by “providing more comprehensive and detailed budget information” to the community. Corona said he would restart a committee of community members to advise the school board on budget matters, and said he would provide “timely and accurate information regarding board of education activities on the district website.”

Lisa Katz

BACKGROUND: Katz, 46, has lived in the district for 18 years. She is a medical biller for a Long Island anesthesiologist. Katz has a bachelor’s degree from Hofstra University. Katz has three children, two currently attending district schools and one a district graduate. Katz is a North Merrick district liaison for Long Island Opt-Out, a network of Long Islanders opposed to Common Core. Katz is an active PTA member and volunteer at the district’s Old Mill Road School. She was elected to the school board in 2014.

ISSUES: Katz said the most important issue facing the district is “ensuring every student receives a quality education that goes above the Common Core standards and expectations.” She said “in light of the unsuitable rollout and implementation of Common Core,” the district should write its own curriculum that aligns to the standards. “Common Core standards are not going away.” Katz said. “I would make sure that our kids have a well-rounded education immersed with arts, music and educating the whole child, not just focusing on tests.”

Tracey Miller

BACKGROUND: Miller, 50, has lived in the district for 40 years. She is a middle school science teacher in New York City. Miller graduated from Sanford H. Calhoun High School and has a bachelor’s degree from Boston University and a master’s degree in earth science and education from Queens College. Miller is a Scout leader with Boy Scout Troop 351 in Merrick. Her two children attend district schools.

ISSUES: Miller said the most important issue facing the district is last year’s adoption of new New York State science standards, which will be implemented in the next few years. “As a science teacher, I would like to see more emphasis on science and social studies” in district schools,” Miller said. “When they start kids young with STEM [Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics], they excel in all areas, not just in science. They are learning to think differently.” Miller said the school board should do a better job of communicating with district residents about upcoming meetings and agendas.

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