6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday at the Dryden Street School, Park Avenue School, Drexel Avenue School and Westbury Middle School.
The district proposes a $134,446,668 budget for 2016-17, a 2.85 percent increase from the current $130,718,342. The local tax levy would decrease 1.83 percent, from $77,142,183 to $75,731,414.
This decrease is equal to the district’s tax-cap limit of -1.83 percent, so a simple majority vote will be required to approve the budget. School taxes on the average single-family home would decrease 0.14 percent, from $9,824.82 to $9,811.08.
The proposed budget includes a 3.2 percent average step increase for teachers. The district said it does not anticipate receiving enough state aid to maintain existing programs and will use reserves and a hiring freeze to meet the shortfall. The spending plan does not call for cuts in programs or services.
- District website:
Incumbents Rodney A. Caines, Leslie F. Davis and Laura L. Pierce and candidates Stanton Brown, Sherley Cadet, Jan R. Figueira, Perelene Kaalund Perpall, Pedro A. Quintanilla and Tania Stamp are running for three at-large seats. Caines and Davis are running as a team. Brown, Cadet and Quintanilla are running as a slate. Terms are three years.
BACKGROUND: Brown, 44, a district resident for 10 years, is chief operating officer of Bard Early Colleges. He has a bachelor’s degree from University of Maryland at College Park, a master’s of business administration from Harvard University and a doctoral degree in education from Fordham University. He serves as audit committee chairman of College for Every Student, a college-access nonprofit based in upstate Essex, and is chairman of the On Broadway Performing Arts Training Program. He served on the board from 2009 to 2011.
ISSUES: Brown cited students’ academic performance as the most important issue facing the district. “Far too many of our students, particularly those that have been in our district eight years or more, are not proficient in ELA [English language arts], math, nor are they prepared for postsecondary education,” he said. “For decades, our district has failed to support our students in achieving proficiency at all grade levels and does an equally poor job at preparing our students for postsecondary success.” To dramatically improve performance, a cultural shift toward accountability and innovation is needed, Brown said. He said he would use his expertise in strategic management consulting and education management to design an accountability system that focuses on intense management of activities that drive academic performance. “First we’ll set goals. Then we will measure our work against these goals and make staff accountable for results that we desire,” he said. “At present none of this happens.”
BACKGROUND: Cadet, 41, a speech language pathologist, has lived in the district for 22 years. She is a supervisor of Applied Behavior Analysis Services (ABS) Metro Children Inc. She holds a bachelor’s degree in communication science and disorders from LIU Post and is a board-certified behavior analyst, also conferred by that school. She is a member of The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. She has three children and is a member of the PTA.
ISSUES: Cadet said the greatest issue facing the district is academic performance. “For many years, the ranking of the Westbury school district has gone down and continues to go down — poor performance and a low graduation rate,” she said. Accountability throughout the system — from board members, administrators, teachers, parents and students — will improve academic performance, Cadet said. She said she would help provide proper tools to support and promote academic performance for higher graduation rates and success in college. She would like to implement parent centers to get parents involved and to encourage participation in school functions.
Rodney A. Caines
BACKGROUND: Caines, 40, is a mechanical engineer and 35-year district resident. He has a bachelor’s degree in marine engineering from the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy. He is a board member of the Town of North Hempstead Community Development Agency and a deacon at First Baptist Cathedral of Westbury. He has four daughters — two are in the public schools, one will enter prekindergarten in the fall and the youngest is not school age. He has served on the board since 2010.
ISSUES: The most important issue facing the district is the steady 3 percent to 4 percent rise each year in student enrollment, which is putting a strain on programs and resources, Caines said. To fund educational programs, he said he would lead the charge for more state aid and funding and would improve energy efficiency through focused management of the district’s resources. He also said he would strive to expand the physical plant both to accommodate growing enrollment and enhance education in science, technology, engineering and math fields.
Leslie F. Davis
BACKGROUND: Davis, 52, a lifelong district resident, is a teacher at Barry Tech, a career and technical education high school operated by Nassau BOCES. A Westbury High graduate, she has a bachelor’s degree in career and technical education from New York Institute of Technology and a master’s degree in educational technology from LIU Post. She is a trustee at First Baptist Cathedral of Westbury and a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority. Two of her sons graduated from Westbury schools and a third attends Westbury High School. She has served on the board since 2010.
ISSUES: Davis, in a statement to Newsday, said one of the greatest issues facing the district is growing enrollment. She said she plans to search for funding to ease overcrowding and has been working with the administrative staff to development enhancements to strengthen the strategic plan. Noting that she has operated several businesses in the area, she wrote, “My business experience, coupled with my membership in the community, gives me the ability to recognize areas where efficiency can be gained, pleasing taxpayers while still providing quality education for our students, which is what all parents desire.”
Jan R. Figueira
BACKGROUND: Figueira, 58, is regional director of program for the Girl Scouts of Nassau County and has lived most of her life in Westbury. A Westbury High School graduate, she holds a bachelor’s degree in biology from Fisk University and a master’s in social work from Columbia University. She previously served on the Westbury Memorial Public Library board. She left the community for a brief time to work for Girls Inc. and returned in 2011. She is active in several service organizations, including Long Island Links Inc., and has organized many reunions of her high school classmates.
ISSUES: Figueira said compliance with more rigorous Common Core academic standards, coupled with a lack of funding from the state, are the biggest issues facing the district. She said she aims to “bring our children up to a certain level as far as reading and math, and being able to do that successfully under our current budget.” As a longtime Westbury resident who has experience running an organization, she said she has the skill set to help guide the district in the right direction. With her degree in social work, she said, “I understand the social and emotional issues young children have and how we can address that and get them on grade level and on par.” Of Westbury, she said, “I know it was a great place to grow up, and I had an excellent education and I believe we can rise to that level again ... if we all work together.”
Perelene Kaalund Perpall
BACKGROUND: Perpall, who declined to give her age, has lived in the district for 20 years. She has a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Baruch College. She has served as president of the PTA at the Dryden Street School, the Park Avenue School and Drexel Avenue School and serves as treasurer for the Westbury PTA Council. She has three children; one son attends a private middle school and the other two are in college.
ISSUES: The most important issue facing the district is the inequity of resources, she said. “I will rally the community to support the bill that is in Congress now to receive emergency funds to support school districts like ours for the education of unaccompanied minors,” she said, referring to children who illegally crossed the United States’ border with Mexico and have been resettled with relatives or sponsors here. The second most important issue, she said, is addressing overcrowding in the district. She said she would implement a housing committee to work with local village and town affiliates to come up with possible solutions.
Laura L. Pierce
BACKGROUND: Pierce, 59, works in human resources administration in the health care industry and is an ordained minister. She holds a bachelor’s degree in speech communication from Morgan State University and a master’s degree from NYIT, and is a doctoral student in The School of Education at St. John’s University. She taught for five years in the early childhood and elementary levels in the New York City public schools in Harlem. A district resident for 21 years, she has held office in various Westbury PTAs, and has worked as a Girl Scout leader and a volunteer with the high school track and swim teams. Her daughter graduated from Westbury High School in 2011. Pierce has served on the board since 2009.
ISSUES: Pierce said enrollment growth, leading to overcrowding and a need for more classroom space, is the district’s greatest challenge. The district has sought additional funding from Albany and board members traveled there to lobby in person, she noted. Trustees have considered several ways to address the issue, she said, including building portable classrooms, applying for grants and proposing a bond issue. “A solution is not that simple. And while space alone is an issue in crisis, we as a board have placed many proposals on the table and must do something to alleviate this challenge,” Pierce said. She said she is 100 percent for public education. “I grew up with a strong public education and that is what I gave my daughter through the Westbury schools, and it is really important to me,” she said.
Pedro A. Quintanilla
BACKGROUND: Quintanilla, 46, a district resident for 25 years, is a senior sales/relationship manager. He holds a bachelor’s degree in finance from SUNY Old Westbury. He is the past strategy team president of LI-Can [Long Island Congregations and Neighborhoods] and is a past chairman of the Hispanic Committee at St. Brigid’s Roman Catholic Church. His daughter attends St. Brigid Our Lady of Hope School and he has a son who is not yet school age.
ISSUES: Quintanilla said he believes lack of improvement in the quality of education is the greatest issue facing the district. Year after year, he said, Westbury schools are ranked near the bottom when compared with schools across Long Island. He said he would commission an independent analysis to find solutions, and work to ensure that educational quality and better graduation rates are the primary goal of the school administration and the school board.
BACKGROUND: Stamp, 43, is a licensed practical nurse and has lived in the district for 20 years. She studied early childhood education at SUNY Old Westbury and holds an associate degree from Nassau Community College. She received her nursing degree from the Vocational Education Extension Board. She is the current Westbury High School PTA delegate to the Westbury PTA Council and also is the council’s secretary. She has served the Westbury High School PTA as president, vice president and treasurer, and also has been a vice president of the PTA council. She was a Flag Team parent volunteer coach for eight years. She has three children — an eighth-grader at Westbury Middle School, one attending Long Island Lutheran Middle and High School, and one in college.
ISSUES: Ensuring financial stability is one of the most important issues facing the district, Stamp said. “For many years, we have relied on reserve accounts and fund balances to help offset pensions, health insurance and contractual salary increases,” she said. “These reserves will not last forever.” In addition, she pointed out that while many surrounding districts have had enrollment declines, Westbury has seen a steady rise. Stamp said she would work with district administrators to identify effective strategies to address these issues. “I will pursue grants to fund the things our students desperately need, as well as state and federal funding that accurately accounts for our continuously increasing school population,” she said.