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Long IslandNassau

Hempstead school district


7 a.m. to 9 p.m. at Alverta B. Gray Schultz Middle School.


The district proposes a $189,934,158 budget for 2015-16, a 2.69 percent increase from the current $184,960,572. The local tax levy would increase by 1.98 percent, from $74,141,076 to $75,609,069.

That figure is below the state's tax-cap limit of 2.02 percent for the district, so a simple majority is required to approve the budget.

School taxes on the average single-family home would increase 1.98 percent, from $11,627.49 to $11,857.71. The proposed budget calls for a reduction of about 100 positions. The school district proposes adding staff for a webmaster, additional registration and enrollment. The proposed budget does not include actual increases in teacher salaries. The budget calls for larger elementary and secondary classes as well as cuts to arts and music programs.

District website:


Incumbents Shelley Brazley and Maribel Toure, along with challengers David B. Gates, Gwendolyn Jackson, Caprice Rines, Jeffrey Spencer and Hans Thevenot, are seeking two at-large seats. Terms are three years.

Caprice RinesBACKGROUND: Rines, 47, is a retired claims adjuster and paralegal. She is vice president of the Parent Teacher Student Association at Alverta B. Gray Schultz Middle School, copresident of the district's Special Education Parent Teacher Association (SEPTA) committee, and past president of the Kiwanis International chapters in Roosevelt and Uniondale. Rines also is a member of the National Action Network, the NAACP and the National Rifle Association. Her son went to school in the district. She received an associate degree in business management from the now-closed Interboro Institute of Manhattan, and she is a certified paralegal. Rines, who has lived in the district for 15 years, has not previously served on the school board.

ISSUES: To encourage transparency, Rines said she would speak to different churches and organizations to ensure that members of the community are more aware of district finances. Rines said she would work to add more mentors to the district. A key issue is urging the federal government, through a letter campaign to officials or at a march in Washington, to provide money for an expected surge in unaccompanied minors from other countries.

Hans ThevenotBACKGROUND: Thevenot, 52, is dean of students at EBC High School for Public Service in Bushwick, Brooklyn. He holds a master's degree from Touro College in early childhood development and a bachelor's degree in cognitive psychology from Queens College. He is a licensed physics teacher. Thevenot has a daughter, 4, who will enter the district. He has not previously served on the board.

ISSUES: Thevenot said he aims to end the "consistent failure of our schools." His background in education is pivotal and will provide "steady proven strategies in order to get these kids graduated again," he said. Thevenot said he would urge adding remedial classes and ensure that student placement in classes is handled more accurately. He would urge allowing members of the public to have more time to speak at board meetings, and he would look to reduce the number of attorneys the district uses and search for a new firm. Thevenot said a way to improve student behavior is to require all students to wear uniforms.

Jeffrey SpencerBACKGROUND: Spencer, 49, is a lifelong member of the district and his daughter graduated in 2014 from the high school. He graduated as a certified mechanic from Delaware Technical Community College. He is a volunteer and chief fire inspector for the Hempstead Fire Department; a volunteer parks commissioner for the Village of Hempstead; a volunteer supervisor at Campbell Park in Hempstead; and a member of the Hempstead Democratic Club. Spencer has not previously served on the board.

ISSUES: Spencer said the first policy he would review is security in the village. Guards "are in the wrong locations," he said, noting more should be placed in the middle school. He said the recent hiring of former Freeport Village Mayor Andrew Hardwick for a $90,000 post to oversee security was misguided, citing Hardwick's qualifications and salary. Spencer said the district should focus on capital improvements and that portables -- unattached structures -- need to be rehabilitated. An outside agency should evaluate the performance of all components of the district, Spencer said.

Gwendolyn JacksonBACKGROUND: Jackson, 62, is a former Nassau BOCES teacher of the hearing-impaired. She holds a bachelor of science degree in speech pathology and audiology from Ithaca College, a master's degree in Deaf Education from Smith College, and a professional diploma in school administration from LIU Post. Jackson is a board member of the Nassau Reading Council. Jackson is running alongside current board member Maribel Toure. Jackson has lived in the district 29 years.

ISSUES: Jackson said the district must improve relations among parents, teachers and the administrators. For example, the school district can better let residents know when board meetings are held by issuing robocalls. She said schools could be open later and take students to dentist appointments. Regarding security, she said the district must analyze current practices. Mentioning the recent beating of a teacher on campus, she said, "people were not following the procedures in place." An analysis might reveal a need for more cameras or security guards, she said.

Maribel ToureBACKGROUND: Toure, 53, is a current board member who is running for her first full term. She is a certified mammographer and X-ray technologist, working in Manhattan for New York University at Bellevue Hospital Center. She graduated from the National Autonomous University of Mexico, where she received a degree in biochemistry. She also is a graduate of LaGuardia Community College's EMT program. She is a member of the New York Communities for Change and the 1199 SEIU Child Care Funds. Toure is running with Gwendolyn Jackson. Her children previously attended Hempstead schools. Toure has lived in the district for 10 years.

ISSUES: Toure says the district must better supervise its funds. She said she is proud of a recent resolution passed that requires district officials to disclose more information about job candidates. The district should work to create more after-school programs and extend the hours of the media center so students can stay longer at school, she said. The district should also create plans to improve infrastructure -- replacing the portables -- before potential jumps in enrollment.

Shelley BrazleyBACKGROUND: Brazley, 58, is seeking a second term on the school board. She is project director for Nassau County's Office of Minority Affairs. She received a master compliance administrator certification from Morgan State University. Her children previously attended Hempstead schools. She is running alongside David B. Gates. Brazley is a founding member of Democracy Inspiring Voter Awareness; and is a former executive member of Perfecting Faith Church in Freeport.

ISSUES: Brazley said the district must create a long-term facilities plan that outlines much-needed capital improvements. For example, a building can be demolished while levels could be built above existing structures. Brazley said she wants to expand student access to public transportation so that more buses are made available to students. Adding more vocational training is key, she said. For instance, students should have better business skills.

David B. GatesBACKGROUND: Gates, 51, is director of government programs for EmblemHealth in Manhattan. He holds a bachelor of arts degree from Lincoln University in Pennsylvania, and a master's in religious education and a doctorate in sacred theology from United Christian College in Manhattan. He is a member of the district's SEPTA committee, the Long Island Conference of Clergy, the Religious Conference Management Association and the Hempstead chapter of the NAACP. He also is a senior pastor of Miracle Center Inc. in Hempstead. He is running with current board member Shelley Brazley.

ISSUES: Gates said he wants to reform the district's registration policies so that a more centralized and digital database is developed. Gates said he would seek programs that encourage students to return to the district after dropping out. For example, the district can offer tutoring services and create partnerships with social service agencies and local colleges. Gates said it is important to expand the district's foreign language offerings so that students are taught the subject at a younger age.

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