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Long IslandEducation

Smithtown

SCHOOL VOTERS GUIDE

BUDGET

SPENDING $251,429,436, a 2.66 percent increase from the current $244,913,464.

TAX LEVY 2.69 percent increase, from $192,689,494 to $197,866,115. This is equal to the district’s 2.69 percent tax-cap limit, so a simple majority vote is required for approval.

TEACHER PAY / PROGRAMS Includes a 2.8 percent increase, comprised of a 0.50 percent contractual increase and an average step increase of 2.30 percent. The proposed budget adds four elementary teachers, and positions for two social workers and three guidance counselors.

WHEN | WHERE

6 a.m. to 9 p.m. at Accompsett, Nesconset, St. James and Smithtown elementary schools. www.smithtown.k12.ny.us

CANDIDATES

Four candidates are running for four positions, elected by seat. Michael Catalanotto and Peter Tufo are vying for a seat with a three-year term; incumbent Daniel B. Lynch is not seeking re-election to that post. Jerry R. Martusciello and Ralph Michele are vying for a seat with a one-year term; this was the seat of Gladys M. Waldron, who resigned. Incumbent Michael Saidens is running unopposed for a three-year term. Incumbent Frank H. James is running unopposed for a one-year term created by the resignation of Joanne McElroy, whose seat James was appointed to fill.

Michael Catalanotto

BACKGROUND Catalanotto, 40, is a Smithtown native and a family law attorney. He received a bachelor's degree in accounting from Salisbury University in Maryland in 2001 and a master's in business administration there in 2002. He received his law degree from Touro Law School in 2005. In addition to his law firm, he runs a real estate firm and owns a workout supplement company called Proven 4 Inc. He also is executive director of a pediatric food allergy awareness nonprofit called Tyler and Madden's Food Fight. He has two children attending district schools.

KEY ISSUE Catalanotto said beyond academic curriculum, the district needs to work with parents on issues such as social media guidelines and mental health resources. "We need … to educate the parents and to work with the administration to come up with some sort of policy" on these, he said.

Jerry R. Martusciello

BACKGROUND Martusciello, 51, has lived in the district for 23 years. He is an elementary school teacher in the Brentwood school district. Martusciello received a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from SUNY Old Westbury in 1995 and his master’s degree in liberal studies from Stony Brook University in 1998. He has one child attending a school in the district.

KEY ISSUE Martusciello said he wants to focus on limiting class sizes in district schools. "I strongly believe that class size has a huge impact on learning," he said. In addition, students should have the opportunity to take both Advanced Placement classes and "diverse electives. Not everyone is on the academic track."

Ralph Michele

BACKGROUND Michele, 45, has lived in the district for 38 years and has two children attending district schools. He is a project manager who received a bachelor's degree in architecture from New York Institute of Technology in 1999. He is on the board of the Smithtown Kickers soccer program.

KEY ISSUE Michele is concerned about addressing the drug and vaping use in district schools. "We have a significant drug and vaping problem at every school," he said. "We need to be discussing vaping with the younger age groups and we have to tackle that much more. The parents have to get involved."

Peter Tufo

BACKGROUND Tufo, 50, is a lawyer who has lived in the district for nine years after growing up in Seaford. He received a bachelor's degree in business administration from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Florida in 1990, and his law degree from St. John's University in 2000. He is part of the state and Suffolk County bar associations and the National Organization of Social Security Claimants' Representatives. He has four children attending district schools. 

KEY ISSUE Tufo said school safety is the top issue for the district and every school. "We want to provide a safe and secure environment with proper security at the front door," he said. "That’s always going to be the number-one priority."

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