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Long IslandEducation

Syosset

SCHOOL VOTERS GUIDE

BUDGET

SPENDING $236,977,020, a 2.88 percent increase from the current $230,346,020. 

TAX LEVY 2.49 percent increase, from $195,954,954 to $200,830,319. This is within the district’s 3.34 percent tax-cap limit, so a simple majority vote is required for approval.

TEACHER PAY / PROGRAMS The district's budget includes 0.5 percent contractual raises and 1.5 percent step increases for teachers. The proposed budget does not call for reductions in teachers, staff, or programs. It calls for 2 additional positions to boost the social-emotional learning of students and provide support for post-secondary planning.

PROPOSITIONS

Proposition 2 would authorize the district to spend $2 million from the security capital improvement program reserve of 2018; $942,521 from the 2014 capital reserve fund; and $2 million from undesignated unreserved fund balance, less funds anticipated from the district's smart bond allocation, not to exceed $1,197,042, to be used to install ballistic doors across the district. Approval of this proposition will not add to the tax levy.

WHEN | WHERE

6 a.m. to 9 p.m. at Syosset High School, HB Thompson Middle School and Robbins Lane Elementary School. www.syossetschools.org 

CANDIDATES

Six candidates are running for four at-large positions. Incumbents Tracy Frankel, Robert Gershon, and Susan Parker will face challengers Court Cousins, Thomas A. Rotolo and Uzma Syed. The three highest vote-getters will receive three-year terms, while the fourth highest vote-getter will serve a one-year term to fill the balance of an unexpired term.

Tracy Frankel

BACKGROUND Frankel, 44, is a partner at the law firm, Farber, Brocks & Zane, LLP, of Garden City, heading the appellate/motion department. Frankel, board president, is a graduate of the University of Michigan, where she majored in communication and psychology and the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law at Yeshiva University. Her children attend district schools; one is in sixth grade, another in ninth grade. She is running as a team with Gershon and Parker. She has served on the board since 2013.

KEY ISSUE "Syosset has made thoughtful, important changes to curriculum and programming to address the social-emotional health of our students, as well as increasing the mental health professional staff in the district," Frankel said. "It will be critical to continue to prioritize social emotional health, given the pressures of post-graduation studies/careers; the needed focus on security; the more challenging mandated curriculum; and the increase in diversity in the community."

Rob Gershon

BACKGROUND Gershon, 51, is an attorney with a law practice concentrated in family law, and is board vice president. He has served on the board since 2013. He is a graduate of University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and Brooklyn Law School. He is running as a team with Frankel and Parker. One child graduated from district schools, while another is in ninth grade.

KEY ISSUE "Security continues to be the most important issue," he said. "We are increasing the allocation of funds for additional security guards, improving the infrastructure of our schools, and increasing surveillance."

Susan Parker

BACKGROUND Parker, 60, has served on the board since 2013. She has three children who graduated from district schools. Parker earned a bachelor's in marketing from SUNY Binghamton and an MBA from Boston University. She works part-time at Innovation Weight Loss in Syosset. She is running as a team with Frankel and Gershon.

KEY ISSUE "In addition to maintaining the high level of academic excellence, along with fiscal responsibility we demand, it's vital that we ensure that all students have a safe and secure environment in which to learn," she said. "Additionally, our community is becoming increasingly diverse, so we must maintain and stress our emphasis and commitment to inclusivity."

Court Cousins

BACKGROUND Cousins, 48, is an attorney with Goldberg Segalla LLP in Garden City, specializing in insurance and reinsurance law. His son is a second-grader in the district. Cousins holds a bachelor's degree in political science from SUNY Empire State College and he is a graduate of Hofstra Law School. He also serves as a volunteer firefighter/paramedic, and as a volunteer coach for the Syosset Baseball Association. Cousins is also co-president of the North Syosset Civic Association. He is running as a team with Rotolo.

KEY ISSUE The paramount issue is "safety and security." He said, "good policymaking for safety and security is better with a public safety background. As a 20-year veteran of the Syosset Fire Department, I have extensive experience working with the police to jointly resolve public issues."

Thomas A. Rotolo

BACKGROUND Rotolo, 49, is an accountant with his own practice in Syosset. He earned a bachelor's degree from SUNY Albany's business school. He is president of the Long Island and Brooklyn chapters of the Cooley's Anemia Foundation. Rotolo is commissioner of Syosset Soccer Club's intramural league and president of the Syosset Park Civic Association. Rotolo has two children attending district schools. He is running as a team with Cousins.

KEY ISSUE "The key issue for me is change moving the district forward, focusing on all the children, so they will be successful," he said. He highlighted his financial experience. "My concern is that we have a large district and the budget has continued to increase, so we need to re-look at everything. Can we sustain these increases every year, even though it's under the cap?" 

Uzma Syed

BACKGROUND Syed, 40, is an infectious disease physician. She graduated from an accelerated seven-year medical program, during which she earned a bachelor's degree from Utica College of Syracuse University and a doctor of osteopathy from the University of New England. Syed is founder and president of Align US Inc., a high school career mentorship program that pairs students and professionals. She is a member of the Nassau County Police Commissioner's Community Council, the Erase Racism Benefit Planning Committee, and a member of the Interfaith Council of Syosset-Woodbury. She has experience as a volunteer with the district's parent-teacher associations. She has two children attending district schools. 

KEY ISSUE "Maintaining the excellence in the district with our programs and our blue ribbon standards, while keeping the budget under the tax cap so future generations can afford to live here" is the key issue, Syed said. She also said it was important to "continue to work on character development and security … We need to make sure it's a safe and secure environment for all of our students."

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