TODAY'S PAPER
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Long IslandEducation

Valley Stream school district 13

VOTING

6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday at the James A. Dever, Howell Road Elementary, Wheeler Avenue Elementary and Willow Road Elementary schools.

THE BUDGET

The district proposes a budget of $51,496,380 for 2018-2019, a 3.32 percent increase from the current $49,841,963. The tax levy would increase 2.54 percent, from $35,479,114 to $36,380,283.

The increase is under the district’s tax-cap limit of 3.14 percent, so a simple majority is needed to approve the budget.

School taxes on the average single-family home would rise 2.54 percent, from $3,652.72 to $3,745.50.

The proposed budget calls for adding two full-time special education teachers and part-time teachers for speech and English as a New Language.

The ballot also includes a proposition to establish a new capital reserve fund to pay for improvements at the district’s schools. The reserve fund would be up to $10 million over 10 years and the money would come from transfers from general fund balances.

DISTRICT WEBSITE: valleystream13.com

THE CANDIDATES

Incumbent Vinny Pandit is being challenged by Reginald St. Fort for a three-year by-seat term. Incumbent William P. Stris is running unopposed for a three-year term.

BACKGROUND: Pandit, 59, has lived in the district for more than 17 years and is an accountant for Fidelis Care. He earned his bachelor’s degree in accounting from Sydenham College of Commerce and Economics in India in 1979. He also studied at the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India and completed prerequisite CPA coursework at NYIT’s Manhattan campus. He is an active member of Lions Club International. One of his three children is a sixth-grader at a district school; a second is at Valley Stream North High School; and the third, now attending Hofstra University, graduated from a district high school. A trustee since his 2015 election, he has served on the board’s business committee and as the policy committee’s chairman. He currently is the board’s vice president.

ISSUES: Pandit said he wants school resource officers to be assigned to district schools in light of recent school shootings. “They are trained professionals and they know how to deal with these situations,” he said. Pandit said he would like to see Nassau County auxiliary police officers occasionally patrol around district schools so that any potential intruders would know there is a police presence in the area. He said he wants to see additional “challenging” programs in which students get “hands-on” opportunities in coding and robotics. “We do have some programs, but they’re in the initial stages,” he said. “I want to make sure we have them on a robust stage and move forward.” He said he wants to increase awareness around projects in the district that receive tax incentives from Hempstead Town and Nassau County industrial development agencies.

St. Fort did not return a candidate information form to Newsday or respond to requests for an interview.

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