TODAY'S PAPER
Clear 48° Good Afternoon
Clear 48° Good Afternoon

VOTING

7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday at West Islip High School.

THE BUDGET

The district proposes a $121,129,702 budget for 2017-18, a 0.5 percent increase from the current $120,529,829. The tax levy would increase by 0.33 percent, from $80,729,475 to $80,996,142. This increase is equal to the district’s tax-cap limit, so a simple majority vote is needed to approve the budget. School taxes on the average single-family home would rise 0.33 percent, from $8,184 to $8,211.

The proposed budget includes a 0.75 percent contractual increase plus a half-step increase of 1.5 percent for teachers. The budget also calls for the reduction of four teacher positions due to retirements, and the addition of a high school assistant principal, three social workers, two technology support positions, and one custodial position.

THE CANDIDATES

Incumbent Ronald Maginniss and candidates Catherine Artusa and Paul Michaluk are vying for two at-large seats with three-year terms.

Catherine Artusa

BACKGROUND: Artusa, 42, has lived in the district for 19 years. She received a bachelor’s degree from the Fashion Institute of Technology. She’s a stay-at-home mother and has two children attending district schools. She is active in the Bayview and Beach Street PTAs.

ISSUES: Artusa said she has attended almost every school board and budget meeting in the past nine years and has learned much about the budget process. “I really have seen what’s important, what frustrations the community has,” she said. If elected, she said she would work on issues such as class size, which she said was overly influenced by teacher contracts. “We should be worried about the students, not the contract for teachers,” she said. She also said she was concerned about the curriculum and helping the district become more agile in responding to problems.

Ronald Maginniss

BACKGROUND: Maginniss, 51, grew up in the district and received a bachelor’s degree from Hofstra University and a master of business administration from Adelphi University. He’s a finance executive and has two children who graduated from district schools, and another currently attending a specialized district program. He was first elected to the school board in 2011. He is on the board of the West Islip Soccer Club’s Special Needs Program.

ISSUES: Maginniss said he was proud that the district was able to restore programs that have been cut recently due to reduced state aid, but he said he wants the district to get more funding. He said he wants to make sure that the quality of education is not affected by changes in federal policy. “I don’t know what’s going to happen on the federal level, with charter schools, but we need to protect public education,” he said.

Paul Michaluk

BACKGROUND: Michaluk, 53, has lived in the district for 18 years. He received a bachelor’s degree from C.W. Post. He’s a financial adviser and has two children attending district schools. He used to coach soccer, softball and basketball, and teaches religion at Our Lady of Lourdes in West Islip.

ISSUES: Michaluk said he’s interested in maintaining state-of-the-art student education while staying below the state-mandated tax cap. “I do believe in keeping up with the ways that things are changing, like Smartboards and laptops. Five years from now there will be something new,” he said. He also said the district needs to maintain the infrastructure of school facilities within budgetary guidelines.

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