TODAY'S PAPER
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Long IslandEducation

Smithtown school district

VOTING

6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday at Accompsett, Nesconset, St. James and Smithtown elementary schools.

THE BUDGET

The district proposes a $244,913,464 budget for 2018-19, a 2.32 percent increase from the current $239,367,205. The tax levy would increase 2.95 percent, from $187,169,883 to $192,689,494.

This increase is equal to the district’s tax-cap limit of 2.95 percent, so a simple majority will be required to approve the budget.

School taxes on an average single-family house would increase 2.95 percent, from $9,463 to $9,742.

The proposed budget includes an average 2.9 percent salary increase in teacher pay, including a 0.5 percent contractual raise and a 2.4 percent average step increase.

The spending plan eliminates five elementary teacher positions. It adds one social worker, one psychologist, one guidance counselor, one health teacher and two physical education teachers. Elementary class sizes also would be reduced.

Voters will decide a proposition authorizing the school board to spend the remaining $13.3 million in proceeds of the capital reserve fund for completing capital improvements. Approval of the proposition would not cause any increase in the tax levy or the tax rate, the district said.

District website:

www.smithtown.k12.ny.us

THE CANDIDATES

Two positions are open in the by-seat board election. Incumbent Christopher Alcure and challenger Mandi Kowalik are vying for one seat. Incumbent Jeremy Thode is running unopposed for the other. Terms are three years.

Christopher Alcure

BACKGROUND: Alcure, 46, grew up in Glen Cove and has lived in the Smithtown district for 15 years. A corporate accountant, he received his bachelor’s degree in business in 1994 from Providence College in Rhode Island and his master’s degree in finance from Adelphi University in 1996. He sits on the advisory board of a not-for-profit Smithtown children’s foundation. He has two children attending district schools. A former president of the board, he is seeking his third term.

ISSUES: Alcure said the district is doing well financially and he wants to continue improving security. “The first priority is we’ve done a fair amount in the building security space,” he said. “It’s the highest priority, investing in additional building safety measures to safeguard our students and staff.” Maintaining small class sizes and helping students “on the path towards college and career readiness” are priorities as well, he said.

Mandi Kowalik

BACKGROUND: Kowalik, 42, grew up in West Babylon and has lived in the district for 14 years. A stay-at-home mother and former elementary teacher, she graduated from LIU’s Southampton College in 1999 with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and biology and received her master’s degree in elementary education in 2004 from the same school. She also received a postgraduate degree from Stony Brook University in educational leadership in 2007. She has one child attending a district school.

ISSUES: Kowalik said her educational background would benefit the school board. “I think a board member with an educational background is very important for making policy decisions and procedural decisions,” she said. Her priorities would be to “uphold what’s happening and keep improving.” She said the top issues for the district are school safety, overcrowding in schools and the cost of unfunded state mandates.

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