TODAY'S PAPER
Good Afternoon
CLOSINGS
Good Afternoon

BUDGET

SPENDING $79,806,470, a 2.38 percent increase from the current $77,953,532.

TAX LEVY 2.93 percent increase, from $57,763,782 to $59,455,414. This is within the district's 2.94 percent tax-cap limit, so a simple majority vote is required for approval.

TEACHER PAY / PROGRAMS Includes a 0.75 percent contractual increase and an average 1.78 percent step increase. The proposed budget adds three part-time security workers, an elementary school teacher, an English as a New Language teacher at a 0.8 full-time-equivalent position, and a part-time elementary psychologist. Reductions include two teacher aides and a part-time custodian. The spending plan also supports addition of Advanced Placement computer science; continuation of the Chromebook initiative; expansion of science, math, and reading and writing programs from sixth into seventh grade; and a continued focus on modernizing instructional spaces.

WHEN | WHERE

7 a.m. to 9 p.m. at Forest Lake, Mandalay and Wantagh elementary schools. www.wantaghschools.org

CANDIDATES

Tara Cassidy, Laura Reich and incumbents Kera McLoughlin and Peter Mountanos are running for two seats, elected at-large. Terms are three years.

Tara Cassidy

BACKGROUND Cassidy, 45, has lived in the district for 11 years. She works as a financial controller. Cassidy earned a bachelor's degree in accounting from LIU Post and became a licensed Certified Public Accountant in 2016. She belongs to the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the New York State Society of Certified Public Accountants. Cassidy is a member of the Wantagh PTA 6-12 Association, serves as a coordinator for the Wantagh Arrows Cheerleading League and is treasurer of the Nassau Suffolk Cheerleading Association.

KEY ISSUE "The most important issue currently facing our district is the lack of a contract for the teachers. ... While I cannot address the issues specifically, as I am not privy to them, I can assure you that both my fresh perspective and dedication to the community will bring about a much-needed resolution. I value our teachers and the education they provide our children and I also recognize that we need to be fiscally responsible."

Kera McLoughlin

BACKGROUND McLoughlin, 41, has lived in the district for 13 years. She formerly taught social studies in high school and now is a stay-at-home parent. She earned a bachelor's degree from the University of Notre Dame in 1999 and a master's degree from Columbia University Teachers College in 2001. She has had leadership positions in district PTA and SEPTA groups, and has been involved in spearheading and planning events for LI Autism Speaks. She has three children in district schools. McLoughlin first was elected to the board in 2013 and is seeking her third term; she was the panel's president in 2017-18. She is running as a team with Peter Mountanos.

KEY ISSUE "We need to come to a fair and financially sustainable resolution to the contract negotiations with our teachers. I will continue to apply the skills I've developed from multiple successful negotiations to reach the best possible outcome for our students, teachers and community. We will need to develop a new five-year facilities plan in 2020 and continue the implementation of our strategy to tackle the $59 million worth of outstanding facilities work in our district."

Laura Reich

BACKGROUND Reich, 48, has lived in the district for 14 years. An attorney, she earned her bachelor's degree in English from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst and her law degree from Hofstra University School of Law. Reich was president of the Wantagh Elementary School PTA from 2013 to 2015 and treasurer of the Wantagh 6-12 Association and the Wantagh High School Band Wagon from 2016 to present. She also has served on the Wantagh Sports Booster Club. Two of her children attend district schools and two graduated from Wantagh High School and are in college.

KEY ISSUE "I want to make Wantagh schools a place for our students to thrive and succeed, to feel secure and nurtured, and to be happy and inspired. I look forward to continuing to improve and enrich the curriculum and educational programs for all learners at all levels in the district. It is equally important to continue to promote music and the arts to develop our students’ talents in all of our schools and to support our sports programs to provide a 'home' for our athletes, whether on the court or on the field. I intend to reach this goal while remaining fiscally prudent in the interests of the taxpayers in our Wantagh community."

Peter Mountanos

BACKGROUND Mountanos, 24, is a lifelong resident of the district. He is a software engineer with Google. A 2012 graduate of Wantagh High School, Mountanos received his bachelor's degree in machine learning, with a minor in mathematics, from New York University's Gallatin School of Individualized Study. He was elected to the board in May 2013 at age 18, after his freshman year at NYU. He was re-elected in 2016. Mountanos served as the panel's vice president in 2017-18 and is the current president.

KEY ISSUE "We are moving toward a more progressive model of education that focuses on differentiated instruction, rather than the 'one size fits all' model that we have seen for many years. As a board member for the past six years, I have helped shape our mission and vision, along with our five-year strategic plan that we are currently implementing."

CORRECTION: A previous version of this entry gave an incorrect percentage for teachers' average step increase.

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