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Long IslandEducation

Patchogue-Medford school district

VOTING

7 a.m. to 9 p.m. at South Ocean and Saxton middle schools and Medford, Tremont and Eagle elementary schools.

THE BUDGET

The district proposes a $190,467,316 budget for 2018-19, a 3.54 percent increase over the current $183,951,068. The tax levy would increase 3.21 percent, from $108,820,314 to $112,318,127. The increase matches the state’s tax-cap limit of 3.21 percent.

School taxes on the average single-family home would increase 3.74 percent, from $7,563.03 to $7,845.91.

The proposed budget funds additional positions for 8.5 teachers, 3 clerical, 6 teaching assistants, 1 audiovisual technician, 1 maintenance worker, 1 part-time library aide and 10 full-time equivalent security guards. It also calls for teachers to receive a step increase of 3.01 percent, and a 1.25 percent raise.

There are also two propositions on the ballot.

The first asks voters to establish a $15 million capital reserve fund for construction, improvements, equipment and furnishings of district facilities.

The second proposition would authorize the district to spend $1.2 million on security upgrades from existing capital reserve funds.

District website:

pmschools.org

THE CANDIDATES

Incumbents Marc A. Negrin and Anthony C. O’Brien are running along with first-time candidates Kayla R. Gogarty and Bernadette Smith for three seats. Negrin replaced Bunnie Schiller after she vacated her seat early; Christine Rignola also vacated early, creating an open seat. Negrin, O’Brien and Smith are running as a team. All terms are three years.

Marc A. Negrin

BACKGROUND: Negrin, 59, has lived in the district for 22 years. A teacher assistant at Eastern Suffolk BOCES’ Islip Career Center, he was appointed to fill a board vacancy in July 2017 and is making his first run for office. He studied at Stony Brook University from 1976 to 1980 and graduated from New York Chiropractor College in 1984. He has three children who graduated from the school district. He is chairman of the Raider Youth Football, Lacrosse and Cheer, a board member of the Suffolk County PAL Football and Boys Lacrosse. He’s a board trustee at Suffolk County Girls Lacrosse.

ISSUES: Negrin said he supports the district initiatives to enhance security at schools through hiring 10 new security guards, improving vestibules and introducing license scanners at all schools. He also said he supports a state Assembly bill that would exempt school security costs from the calculating the tax cap. He said he supports the “whole child” focus led by school superintendent Michael J. Hynes “so we can continue to create innovative thinkers.”

Anthony C. O’Brien

BACKGROUND: O’Brien, 51, has lived in the district for 47 years and is chairman of the Board of Education. He is completing his third term. His son graduated Patchogue-Medford High School last year. O’Brien is a retired director from a corporate catering firm and graduated from Dowling College with a bachelor’s degree in history in 1989. He also has associates degrees from Catherine Gibbs Associates in Melville and Suffolk County Community College.

ISSUES: O’Brien said the district is on firm financial footing, particularly compared to when he first came onto the board nine years ago. He said he will continue to push educational programs that promote the “whole child,” including yoga and expanded vocational training. He said the district plans to expand school security measures, including upgrading vestibules in all schools and requiring a system that scans licenses or identification cards. The district is also expanding the number of teaching assistants.

Kayla R. Gogarty

BACKGROUND: Gogarty, 26, has lived in the district since she was 2 years old. She is a math and science teacher and program administrator at Huntington Learning Center in Patchogue. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Drexel University in 2014 and a master’s degree in chemistry research from Stony Brook University in 2017. Her mother is a kindergarten teacher in the district. She is a member of the Suffolk County Next Generation Advisory Council, intended to bring young people’s perspective to government, and former secretary of Stony Brook University Scientists for Policy, Advocacy, Diplomacy and Education. She also served as a representative for Stony Brook University’s Advocacy Day at Capitol Hill.

ISSUES: Gogarty said she would provide a younger perspective to the board. “There’s nobody my age is on the board yet. Most are parents of current or former students,” she said. “I could provide a unique perspective that can better relate to the students — an understanding of what was important to me and other recent graduates.” She said she would advocate for STEM programs and support expanding career and technical training to both juniors and seniors. Currently technical programs are only open to seniors. She said

Bernadette Smith

BACKGROUND: Smith, 52, is a health coach based in Patchogue. She graduated in 1988 from Ithaca College with a bachelor’s of arts in has a bachelor’s of fine art in theatrical production arts lived in the district 19 years. In 2014 she received a certificate in nutritional health from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition in Manhattan. She is past president of Medford Elementary School PTA and past president of South Ocean Middle School PTA. Two of her children have graduated from the district and she has a son in ninth grade.

ISSUES: Smith said declining enrollment is the most pressing issue facing the district. That’s why she said it’s important for the district to stay within the state tax cap and have “fiscal discipline.” She said schools might have to consider adjusting grade levels. She also supports expanding vocational training in the school. She said the school’s website could be improved so information was more readily available to parents.

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