TODAY'S PAPER
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Long IslandEducation

Uniondale school district

VOTING

6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday at Smith Street School, Walnut Street School, Grand Avenue School, California Avenue School and Northern Parkway School.

THE BUDGET

The district proposes a $197,337,434 budget for 2018-19, a 5.41 percent increase from the current $187,212,721. The tax levy would rise 0.99 percent, from $121,096,336 to $122,295,190.

This increase is within the district’s tax-cap limit of 3.82 percent, so a simple majority will be required to approve the budget.

The district said it could not calculate the amount of taxes the owner of an average single-family home would pay under the proposed budget because Nassau County has not provided the necessary assessment information.

The teacher’s contract has not been settled, according to the district, so average salary increases were not available.

The proposed budget would allow the district to upgrade one-to-one iPads for third-graders, and provide iPads to fourth- and fifth-graders. The proposal includes 15 new personal computers for a computer graphing in studio art course, as well as 12 new Chromebook carts and 30 new Chromebooks to support the use of digital textbooks in the social studies department.

The spending plan also would provide for addition of the AP Capstone diploma program and professional development on the state’s new Next Generation Learning Standards.

District website:

district.uniondaleschools.org

THE CANDIDATES

In the by-seat election, incumbent Emerson Mott is vying against Justin Brown and incumbent James M. Sharpe III faces a challenge from Charmise Desiré. Terms are three years.

Justin Brown

BACKGROUND: Brown, 27, a district resident for 15 years, is a 2009 graduate of Uniondale High School. He works for NYU Winthrop Hospital as an Institutional Review Board specialist. He received his bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from St. Thomas Aquinas College and expects to graduate this spring with his master’s in health administration from Hofstra University. He is a member of the Uniondale Community Land Trust, the Institutional Review Board, and both coaches and plays Uniondale PAL basketball. Brown has a 5-year-old son who will be attending school in the district in the fall.

ISSUES: The most important issue facing the district is ensuring that students are challenged academically, Brown said. The district must provide “the resources to ensure that they will excel outside of Uniondale once they graduate,” he said. Brown said he would work to implement more programs and electives for younger students to help them “build skills that they can utilize throughout their lives.”

Charmise Desiré

BACKGROUND: Desiré, 46, is the communications director for an institution of higher education on Long Island. She earned her bachelor’s degree in information science from the University at Albany. She is pursuing her master’s degree in public relations at Hofstra University. She has lived in the district for 17 years, and her two sons are graduates of Uniondale High School. Desiré is a member of the Parent Leadership Initiative, Public Relations Professionals of Long Island, and the New York State Association for Bilingual Education. She also is a member of several other civic groups, including the Nostrand Gardens Civic Association, Uniondale Community Land Trust, Uniondale Chamber of Commerce and Greater Uniondale Area Action Coalition.

ISSUES: Desiré said her top priority is helping the district find creative ways to communicate with and engage parents who are busy trying to juggle life. Desiré said she has experience working with districts to boost parent involvement. “If parents are more involved, students can benefit from their oversight, and educators benefit as they partner with them,” Desiré said. “We need to build a stronger communications strategy for all of our community stakeholders.”

Emerson Mott

BACKGROUND: Mott, 63, a resident of the district for 32 years, is the board president and has served on the panel since 2005, with a one-year hiatus. He retired after a 27-year career as a Verizon manager. He earned his bachelor’s degree in psychology from Shippensburg University in 1977. He served as a board trustee for the Uniondale Chamber of Commerce and is actively involved in civic organizations, including the Uniondale Community Council and Nostrand Gardens Civic Association. He is a PAL basketball coach and Boy Scout leader. Both of his children are Uniondale graduates. Mott’s wife is a teacher and his daughter is a social worker, both working in the district. He and Sharpe are running as a team.

ISSUES: Aging infrastructure is a major issue for the system, Mott said. “Our school district is old and simple upkeep is not sufficient,” he said. The board was successful in getting a $158 million bond passed by the community for extra classrooms to address overcrowding, he said. “I will do my duty to assure the funds are disbursed properly and accounted for through oversight,” Mott said. He also stressed the importance of prekindergarten becoming “universal” for all children.

James M. Sharpe III

BACKGROUND: Sharpe, 58, the board’s vice president, has served on the panel for the last nine years, with three of those as board president. A district resident for 28 years, he is a retired New York City firefighter. He took classes at LaGuardia Community College and at Westchester Community College. Sharpe has served as president of the PTA Council and is a member of the district Safety Team, United Neighbors Civic Association and The Corridor Counts Inc. Both of his daughters graduated from the district. He and Mott are running as a team.

ISSUES: The main issues facing the district are the need to boost test scores, continuing to raise the district’s graduation rate, maintaining the great learning environment and addressing space issues, he said. Sharpe said his knowledge of the district will “go a long way” in ensuring the funds from the recent bond vote are properly spent. “I want to make sure that the public keeps the confidence that they have in the district, and I think my experience can help to do that,” he said. “I know this school district in and out.” The district also will benefit from his firefighting and security experience as it installs new security systems, Sharpe said.

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