6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday at Drexel Avenue School, Dryden Street School, Park Avenue School and Westbury Middle School.
The district proposes a $145,295,800 budget for 2017-18, an 8.07 percent increase over the current $134,446,668. The tax levy would increase 1.97 percent, from $75,731,414 to $77,223,323.
This increase is within the district’s tax-cap limit of 2.3 percent, so a simple majority is required to approve the budget.
School taxes on an average single-family house in the district would increase 2.08 percent, from $9,963.14 to $10,170.64.
The proposed budget includes an average step increase of 2.16 percent for teachers. Teachers will not get a contract increase, as they are still in negotiations to replace the contract that expired a year ago.
The budget will fund 8.8 full-time equivalent teaching positions and 9.5 other positions, including nurses, security and teachers aides, in response to an influx of students earlier this school year. Depending on demand, the school may expand its Advanced Placement offerings.
- District website: www.westburyschools.org
Incumbents Karin B. Campbell and Robin L. Garrison Bolling and candidates Rodney Caines and Reynolds “Ren” Zelaya are running for two at-large seats. Caines and Bolling are running as a team. Terms are three years.
Karin B. Campbell
BACKGROUND: Campbell, 56, is running for her sixth term. She has lived in the district since 1972 and graduated from Westbury High School. She has a bachelor’s degree from Fisk University and a master’s degree in human resources and labor relations from the New York Institute of Technology. She is a retired railroad employee who now owns a courier service and works part-time in a men’s shelter and as a substitute teacher’s aide in a BOCES summer program for autistic students. She is a Cub Scout den leader, a board member of Reform Educational Financing Inequities Today, and a member of the Sherwood Civic Association and the Westbury Village Parks Commission. A son attended district schools until high school. She is guardian for a niece entering first grade in the district.
ISSUES: Campbell said overcrowding and the push to improve academic outcomes are the two most important issues facing the district, followed by the need for additional funds to cope with an influx of students early this school year — many of them unaccompanied minor immigrants without English language skills. “I don’t consider the students as a burden, but it is a financial stress,” she said. Another priority is finding a new superintendent who is “a dynamic, strong instructional leader,” she said. “I’d like to see the district extend the school day and year to improve academic outcomes,” she said, “and make tutorials mandatory.”
Robin L. Garrison Bolling
BACKGROUND: Bolling, 48, a station agent for the NYC Transit Authority, has lived in the district for 48 years and is running for a second term on the board. A Westbury High School graduate, she studied at Nassau Community College. She is vice president of the Westbury/New Cassel NAACP, and vice president of the McCoy Center Family and Youth Services board. She served in leadership roles in district PTSAs and PTAs, and served as a leader in the Girl Scouts. Two children attended district schools.
ISSUES: District residents “are burdened with one of the highest tax rates in the entire state,” she said. “Board members must be laser-focused on reducing the burden.” In her first term, she said she worked to increase state funding, which “resulted in a 16 percent ($7 million) increase in state aid compared to last year.” If she wins a second term, she said she would “continue working to reduce the tax burden . . . while continuing to address the needs of our children.” That includes finding additional space to relieve overcrowding, she said, and seeking funds through grants or additional state aid to meet the challenges of students with intensive educational needs. And, she said, she wanted greater collaboration between board members in decision making, which she said was lacking in the circumstances surrounding the departure of the former district superintendent.
BACKGROUND: Caines, 41, is a mechanical engineer working for NORESCO, an energy service company in Manhattan. He has lived in the district for 37 years and received a bachelor’s degree from the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy. He is a deacon at First Baptist Cathedral of Westbury and a board member of the Town of North Hempstead’s Community Development Agency. His three children attend district schools. Caines served on the board from 2010 to 2016.
ISSUES: Caines said he is running “to help restore sound management practices to the operation of the school district by the school board.” He said he believed the superintendent was forced to retire, said he was “appalled” that four board members voted for the action, which involved a payout of more than $700,000 of salary and unused sick and vacation pay on the last year of the superintendent’s five-year contract, “without any regard for the impact this would have on the already overburdened taxpayers of Westbury.” He said he had evaluated and worked with the superintendent while on the board and knew of no reason to force her out. “It’s time for a change,” he said. “I hope to be that change with the community’s support.”
Reynolds “Ren” Zelaya
BACKGROUND: Zelaya, 46, is a project manager of FirePlan of NY, a commercial fire alarm vendor in Hicksville. A 35-year resident of the district and a graduate of Westbury High School, he received a bachelor’s degree from New York Institute of Technology. He is on the board of the Westbury Middle and High School PTSAs, the PTA Council, and the board of the Hispanic United Association of Westbury. A son graduated from Westbury High School, and two younger children attend Westbury High School.
ISSUES: “My even temperament and collaborative disposition would help unite a fractured board,” Zelaya said. “As an involved parent, I know firsthand what ails the district and can push to identify and treat our problems.” The major issue confronting the district is “our low standing within Long Island and the state,” he said. He added he feels the board has failed to set adequate goals to improve the district’s academic outcomes, and said he would look at how other districts have more successfully assimilated an influx of immigrant children while maintaining a higher academic standing. He said he also would provide fresh perspectives on the issues of overcrowded facilities, budget constraints and the challenges of the Common Core.