TODAY'S PAPER
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Broken Clouds 57° Good Afternoon
Long IslandEducation

Rockville Centre

VOTING

7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday at South Side High School.

THE BUDGET

The district proposes a $112,682,073 budget for 2017-18, a 2.92 percent increase from the current $109,482,695. The tax levy would increase 0.75 percent, from $91,815,000 to $92,500,000.

This increase is within the district’s tax-cap limit of 0.76 percent, so a simple majority will be required to approve the budget.

School taxes on the average single-family house would increase 0.73 percent, from $12,196 without the Star exemption to $12,285.

The proposed budget includes a 0.66 percent salary increase and varied step increases for teachers. Six staff positions would be added: two special-education teachers, a teacher aide, a security guard, a groundsperson and a custodian.

THE CANDIDATES

Incumbent Gregg P. Spaulding and candidates Wayne Fitzgerald, Tara Hackett, Susan McNulty and Liz Stack are running for two at-large seats. Terms are three years.

Wayne Fitzgerald

BACKGROUND: Fitzgerald, 42, has lived in the district for six years. He is the chief operating officer of the U.S. real estate division at a financial planning and investment management firm. Fitzgerald, who is an Eagle Scout, is an assistant den leader of Cub Scout Pack 163 at St. Agnes Cathedral in Rockville Centre. Fitzgerald has a bachelor’s degree from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, and a law degree from the University of North Carolina School of Law. He practiced law for five years in Charlotte. Fitzgerald is an active parent member in the Riverside Elementary School PTA. His three children attend district schools.

ISSUES: “As a member of our Board of Education, I would engage in aggressive lobbying for additional state funding for our district,” Fitzgerald said, adding: “Rockville Centre needs more of the abundant income and sales tax revenue our community remits to Albany. This income could minimize future property tax increases.” He said the board should be a “bully pulpit to highlight the corrupt and dysfunctional property tax assessment system we have in Nassau County that forces homeowners to grieve their tax assessment every year.” He said, “I would work with members of the Nassau County Legislature and our representatives in Albany to seek system reforms.”

Tara Hackett

BACKGROUND: Hackett, 41, has lived in the district for four years. She is a self-described “full-time volunteer and stay-at-home parent.” She was the director of alumni relations/programs at Hofstra University from 1999 to 2005. Hackett has a bachelor’s degree from Hofstra University and a master’s degree in foundations of education, also from Hofstra. Hackett is finishing a two-year term as president of Hewlett Elementary School PTA. She is Hewlett Elementary School’s co-representative in the district’s Special Education Partners group, which ensures that district programs are inclusive of all children. Hackett’s two children attend district schools.

ISSUES: Hackett said the most critical issue facing the district is replacing the school superintendent, who retires in June 2018. Hackett said that her experiences in university administration, human resources and PTA leadership have prepared her for the task of selecting the new district leadership. Hackett said that “for the past four years, I have completely immersed myself full-time in our school district and have dedicated all my energy to advocate for our children.” Hackett said, “I am well-versed in the district, how it operates, and what is required to meet and exceed our high standards of excellence.”

Susan McNulty

BACKGROUND: McNulty, 42, has lived in the district for 11 years. She is a principal at Nassau BOCES Carman Road School in Massapequa. McNulty earned a bachelor’s degree from Providence College in Rhode Island and a master’s degree in teaching students with disabilities in grades 1-6 and a master’s degree in school administration and supervision, both from Touro College in Manhattan. She also has a master’s degree in mental health counseling from Boston College. McNulty was president of Watson Elementary School PTA from 2015 to this year. Her two children attend district schools.

ISSUES: McNulty said that the district’s “two essential concerns” are “maintaining our successful, cutting-edge curriculums and school programs” and staying within the tax cap. McNulty said that as a school principal she manages multimillion-dollar budgets, researches school programs and analyzes data to implement the newest curricula and technology for all students. “This experience uniquely positions me to work with fellow board members as well as district administrators to make impactful decisions within a tight budget,” she said. McNulty said if elected, she would work with local and state legislators “to secure appropriate resources and funding needed for the continued success of our schools.”

Gregg P. Spaulding

BACKGROUND: Spaulding, 55, has lived in the district for 53 years. He graduated from South Side High School and studied at Nassau Community College and LIU Post. He is a fire communications technician for the Nassau County Fire Marshal’s Office and has been a member of the Rockville Centre Fire Department for 27 years. He has four children who attended or are attending district schools. Spaulding first was elected to the school board in 2010. He previously served as co-president of the William S. Covert Elementary School PTA.

ISSUES: Spaulding said the most important issues facing the district include the selection process for a new school superintendent. If re-elected, he said, “I’m going to make sure the district communicates clearly to everyone in the public how we are improving the education of the children in our district.” Spaulding said that other important issues include class size and “overcrowded classrooms.”

Liz Stack

BACKGROUND: Stack, 55, has lived in the district for more than 17 years. She is a private English tutor and taught high school English in the New York City school district from 1987 to 1994, when she left to raise her family. She was a substitute teacher in Rockville Centre schools from 2007 to 2009. Stack has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Binghamton and a master’s degree in philosophy, also from Binghamton. She is also professionally state-certified as an English Language Arts 7-12 teacher. Stack is an active PTA member at the South Side Middle School and a member of the PTA fundraising and compact committees. She has three children who attended or are attending district schools.

ISSUES: Stack said the most important issue facing the district “is the threat to public education from Common Core reforms and push toward high-stakes testing tied to teachers’ accountability, though not student learning, progress and growth.” Stack said as the mother of three children, including a child who had special needs and is now in law school, she has experience that prepares her “to be as inclusive as possible to the many needs, abilities and challenges of children in our district.” Stack said: “I have learned a great deal through trial and error, what works, what doesn’t and how to be flexible.”

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