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Long IslandNassau

Westbury school district


6 a.m. to 9 p.m. at Dryden Street School, Park Avenue School, Drexel Avenue School and Westbury Middle School.


The district proposes a $130,178,342 budget for 2015-16, a 5.22 percent increase from the current $123,715,746. The local tax levy would rise 1.85 percent, from $75,741,151 to $77,142,183.

The increase is equal to the state's tax cap of 1.85 percent, so a simple majority vote will be required to approve the budget. School taxes on the average single-family home would decrease 2.52 percent, from $9,473.24 to $9,234.50.

The budget funds a contractual increase of 1.5 percent for teachers and a 3.2 average step increase. The budget does not include any cuts in programs or services.

District website:


Incumbents Pless Dickerson and John E. Simpkins and challenger Larry D. Wornum are running for two at-large seats. Terms are three years.

Pless Dickerson

BACKGROUND: Dickerson, 66, has lived in the district 40 years. He has served on the school board for two terms, from 2006 to present. Dickerson holds several degrees, including a doctorate from the Educational Leadership Program at Teachers College, Columbia University. He is a former superintendent of the Wyandanch school district.

ISSUES: Dickerson said the greatest challenge the district faces is the constant increase in student enrollment. The student population is at 5,200 and growing. This number includes the recent arrival of unaccompanied children from Latin America. "Our responsibility is to educate all students who reside within our school district boundaries," he said. "This presents a great number of challenges." The major challenge is overcrowding with buildings at capacity, class sizes increasing and a student-to-teacher ratio that is less than ideal, he said. He plans to seek additional funding from the state as well as grants and partnerships to provide such resources.

John E. Simpkins

BACKGROUND: Simpkins, 50, is a director of talent acquisition and special projects for Henry Schein, and is seeking his second term on the board. He has three children who all attend private schools. He is a graduate of St. John's University. He has lived in the district for 21 years.

ISSUES: Simpkins said the Westbury school system is facing unprecedented challenges. The explosive enrollment growth requires firm and responsible governance to ensure that district money is being utilized effectively to bring about the best academic experience for children, he said. "I have demonstrated responsible governance working alongside my fellow board members, yet my work individually and collaboratively is far from over. I am running to continue to lend a voice to all constituents: public and private school parents, residents and business owner," he said.

Larry D. Wornum

BACKGROUND: Wornum, 63, is retired from the U.S. Department of the Treasury and has lived in the district for 27 years. He holds a bachelor's degree in criminal justice from Northeastern University. His three adult children graduated from district public schools. He had served on the board from 2007 to 2010.

ISSUES: He said that while the test scores, ranking and graduation rates are poor, the school budget has continued to increase and the "fault is clearly at the door of the school board," he said. He said he would not support building a new school and would instead reconfigure the school schedule and use portable classrooms. He said he would work to increase participation by parents, non-parents and especially retirees. He also questioned the timing of board meetings, saying they start at 7:30 p.m. and typically last until after midnight when votes are taken. "I would end this practice," he said.

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