7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday at West Hempstead Middle School.
The district proposes a $61,122,822 school budget for 2018-19, a 1.97 percent increase from the current $59,943,330. The tax levy would increase 2.31 percent, from $44,566,967 to $45,594,326.
This is equal to the district’s tax-cap limit of 2.31 percent, so a simple majority will be required to approve the budget.
The district did not provide the dollar amount of the school tax increase for the average single-family home, because final property assessment figures were not available.
The proposed school budget includes a 3.24 percent step increase for teachers and an estimated salary increase subject to contract negotiations. Two special education teacher positions would be added, one at the district high school and one at the elementary school level. A districtwide literacy specialist position would also be added.
Incumbent Andrea Shinsato is being challenged by Perry Fogg; Sarah Esses and Tony Katrakazis are running for the seat of Caitlin Close, who is not seeking reelection. The terms are three years. Byars Cole and Carol Dolan are running for the one-year term remaining on the seat given up by Rudolf Schindler.
BACKGROUND: Cole, 59, has lived in the district for 13 years. He works as a global account director for CenturyLink Communications in Manhattan. Cole studied music and theater at the University of Mississippi in Oxford during the 1970s, but did not complete a degree. He left college to pursue a professional career in music, film and television in Los Angeles and New York, and has more than 200 music videos with stars such as Mariah Carey and Tony Bennett. Cole received a certificate in internet technology from Pace University in Manhattan. Cole has three children, two of whom currently attend district public schools, and one who attended district elementary and middle schools and is currently enrolled at a parochial high school on Long Island. Cole was the assistant football coach for the West Hempstead Broncos in 2015-16, and in 2016-17 he coached CYO basketball for St. Thomas the Apostle R.C. Church in West Hempstead. Cole was appointed to the West Hempstead School Board last year to finish the three-year term of Rudolf Schindler.
ISSUES: Cole said that continued academic improvement should be the district’s “top priority.” Cole said the district can continue improving its academic scores “with relentless focus on the implementation of central administration plans including professional development for teachers, teaming teachers for best practices and peer reviews.” Cole added, “We must continue to add programs for technology, science, math and languages as well as improved music, theater and athletics” programs. Cole said, “We continue to work on very tight budgets. Therefore, fiscal responsibility is and will continue to be critical for our schools and community.”
BACKGROUND: Dolan, 61, has lived in the district for 27 years. Dolan is a special education middle school teacher at the Henry Viscardi School in Albertson. Dolan received a bachelor of science degree in elementary education from LIU Post and a master of science degree in special education from Adelphi University. Dolan currently serves as the executive vice president of the Henry Viscardi Faculty Association, the school’s teacher union. Dolan’s two children attended and graduated from Long Island parochial schools. Dolan, whose son is serving in the Marines, is a member of Nassau County’s Chapter NY 12 of the Blue Star Moms of America. She is a former president of the St. Thomas the Apostle School parent club, and a former leader local scout leader. This is her first run for the school board.
ISSUES: Dolan said that the district’s “testing scores of our students must and can be improved.” Dolan said that if elected, she would use her 25 years of working with students in elementary and primary grades to “look at creative and innovative programs to help increase our students’ academic abilities.” Dolan said that not every student has the “ability to go to college.” However, she said she is a “strong advocate” for increasing services for students who are not college bound. Dolan said she would like to see an increase in work experience opportunities in “a cross section of industries including more STEM [science, technology, engineering and math]employers in West Hempstead.”
BACKGROUND: Esses, 48, is a second grade English as a New Language teacher at P.S. 119 in the Bronx. Esses grew up in the Bronx, previously lived in Flushing, Queens, and moved into the district in 2016. Esses has an associate degree in fashion buying and merchandising from the Fashion Institute of Technology in Manhattan, a bachelor of arts degree in communications, arts and media from Queens College, CUNY, in Flushing and a master of science degree in applied linguistics and TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages), also from Queens College. Esses has two children attending a parochial school in Queens. This is her first run for the school board.
ISSUES: Esses said that as the West Hempstead school district experiences a drop in enrollment she would “want to ensure equity in funding for all schools in our district, as well as maintain high standards in achievement and learning.” Esses said, “As an educator, I will share my knowledge and expertise in the most effective teaching practices and programs.”
BACKGROUND: Fogg, 56, has lived in West Hempstead for 51 years and is a 1979 graduate of West Hempstead High School. Fogg attended SUNY New Paltz in 1979, but did not complete a degree because he decided to go into business. Fogg is a self-employed entrepreneur who has run a custom-tailor business in West Hempstead for 25 years. For the last 19 years Fogg has been a co-provider with his wife, Chandra, in a West Hempstead-based professional group family day care business. Fogg has five children, four of whom are district public school graduates and one of whom is a parochial school graduate. Fogg coached football for the West Hempstead Broncos football senior team earlier this decade. He was a member of the district’s strategic planning council in 2010 and 2011. Fogg previously ran for the school board in 2012.
ISSUES: Fogg said that he is running for the school board because, “I have been giving back to my community by helping children and I want to do more.” Fogg said he is “an independent thinker” who has “been self-employed for more than 26 years serving our community.” Fogg said that if elected, his role as a trustee would be to “help administration by letting them do their job and by pulling together my resources and relationships that I have developed through the years in business.” Fogg said that his years as an assistant day care provider have taught him “to value the work and dedication” of teachers.
BACKGROUND: Katrakazis, 42, has lived in the district for 10 years. Katrakazis is a steamfitter with Local 638 Union Steamfitter in Long Island City. He is a graduate of Bayside High School in Queens. He attended Hofstra University for a year, but did not complete a degree. Katrakazis has been president of West Hempstead Broncos Football for the last three years and has coached for the organization for the last six years. He has also coached for West Hempstead youth programs in girls softball and boys baseball. Katrakazis has three children, two of whom currently attend district public schools and one of whom is a district public school graduate. This is his first run for the school board.
ISSUES: Katrakazis said the district’s greatest challenge is what he called “lack of funding” for extracurricular and enrichment programs. Katrakazis said that if elected, he would encourage more involvement of local businesses in the community and the schools. “We could speak to town businesses and get them to support the schools by advertising on school buses,” he said. Katrakazis said school safety in West Hempstead is “pretty decent” because the district and its parking lots are patrolled by security guards during school hours.
BACKGROUND: Shinsato, 43, who has lived in the district for 17 years, is a self-described “stay-at-home mom.” Shinsato received a bachelor of arts degree in English from SUNY Oswego. She worked as a teaching assistant in the early 2000s at Herricks Middle School. Shinsato is a former PTA president and an active member of the PTA and PTSA at West Hempstead schools. She chairs PTA committees for Photo Day, staff appreciation and the annual book fair. Shinsato also chaired the fall fundraiser for West Hempstead Club Scout Pack 240. She served on the district’s building better schools committee, which made recommendations for capital projects. Shinsato’s two children attend district public schools. She was elected to the West Hempstead school board in 2015 and is currently board vice president.
ISSUES: Shinsato said that “budget constraints” are the district’s most pressing issue. Shinsato said that if reelected, she would “continue to work with the administration to ensure the education of our children remains our top priority as they create a balanced budget that is sensitive to our economic climate.” Shinsato said she will continue to explore ways to increase district revenue, including consulting with the Island Park School District, which sends some of its high school students to West Hempstead High School and is a source of tuition income. Shinsato said, “We have to make sure that Island Park knows all of the great things going on here, so they can make an informed decision about attending our high school.” Shinsato said that if she is reelected, “I will continue having conversations on the soccer field, on the baseball field and in our neighborhood to receive input from our residents.”