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Long IslandEducation

Valley Stream school district 24

VOTING

7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday at the Brooklyn Avenue School, William L. Buck School, Robert W. Carbonaro School and the South Corona Avenue firehouse.

THE BUDGET

The district proposes a budget of $28,757,452 for 2018-2019, a 3.99 percent increase from the current $27,653,316. The tax levy would increase 2.37 percent, from $20,125,513 to $20,602,290.

The increase equals the district’s tax-cap limit of 2.37 percent, so a simple majority is needed to approve the budget.

School taxes on the average single-family home would rise 4.1 percent, from $6,601.57 to $6,872.05.

The proposed budget includes a 1.92 percent salary increase — through a 1.07 percent step portion and a 0.85 percent contractual increment — for teachers.

The proposed budget also seeks to add a new technology teacher, a new science program and security enhancements.

The ballot also includes a proposition to establish a new Capital Reserve Fund to pay for capital improvements for the district’s schools. The reserve fund would be up to $2 million over 10 years. The funds would come from various sources, including state aid reimbursements and unexpended funds or unappropriated fund balance.

DISTRICT WEBSITE: valleystreamschooldistrict24.org

THE CANDIDATES

Incumbent Donna LaRocco is being challenged by Melissa Herrera for a three-year term.

Donna LaRocco

BACKGROUND: LaRocco, 59, has lived in the district for 32 years. She is a retired Verizon customer service representative. Her three children graduated from district schools. She was elected to the board in 2009 and also served on the Central High School District Board from 2010 to 2015. She also was previously the president of the William L. Buck PTA, among other roles for the organization. She is currently a member of the district’s Health and Wellness Committee.

ISSUES: LaRocco said she is working with the Nassau County Board of Elections to make the district’s schools secure during primary and local elections. “I was always nervous that anybody could walk in the building and the children were still in school,” she said. She added that she’d like to keep class sizes smaller but acknowledged that space is a concern at the schools. She said she would continue to lobby elected officials to get more funding and grants for the district. “I think if we had more funding for the schools, I think we could expand on everything we have.” She wants to enhance mental- health programs and add more counselors. She said the district also needs to beef up its technology program and security.

Melissa Herrera

BACKGROUND: Herrera, 37, has lived in the district for six years. She is a homemaker. Two of her three children attend district schools. She has an associate degree in liberal arts from Nassau Community College. She is the vice president of the Robert W. Carbonaro School PTA, her second time in the position. She is also a member of Valley Stream Girl Scouts and Valley Stream Cub Scouts.

ISSUES: Herrera said she would look to increase state funding, particularly for special education, so programs that were previously cut can be reinstated. “Year after year, parents have seen a decline in services, a decline in programs and an uptick in property taxes and school taxes,” she said. “I think that creates a divide and a disconnect in what we feel we provide our community and what our community provides back to us.” She said she wants to act as a liaison between teachers, schools and parents. Herrera, who speaks Spanish, said she might be able to offer “multilingual communication” to other families in the district because often Spanish-speaking parents do not feel like they can relate to the members of the board. She also wants to see further transparency from the board, especially as it works to hire a new superintendent.

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