TODAY'S PAPER
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Long Island

North Shore School District

VOTING

7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday at North Shore High School gymnasium, Glen Head.

 

THE BUDGET The district is proposing a budget of $88,861,064 for 2011- 12, up 2.78 percent from the current $86,455,773. The local tax levy would rise to $81,647,654, up 3.95 percent from the current levy of $78,547,918. Should the proposed budget be defeated, the district's contingency budget would be $87,827,371 and the contingency tax levy would be $80,613,961.

An average single-family home with an assessed valuation of $1,702 would see a 1.27 percent tax increase, rising from an average $8,718 this year to $8,829 in 2011-12.

Teachers will receive a contract raise of 3.5 percent, with one-third receiving a 2.29 percent step increase. No teachers or staff would be laid off, and there would be no cuts in programs or services under the proposed budget.

A referendum seeks to authorize the district to spend up to $3.1 million from a previously established capital reserve fund to renovate North Shore High School's track and install artificial turf, including incidental costs. The district says the expenditure, if approved, would not increase the tax rate.

District website:

northshore.k12.ny.us

 

THE CANDIDATESIncumbent Amy Beyer and two challengers, Paul J. Echausse and Thomas P. Knierim, are vying for two at-large seats on the board, each carrying a three-year term. Mary Kolkhorst is not seeking re-election.

 

Amy Beyer

BACKGROUND:Beyer, 49, co-owner with her husband, John, of a moving storage company and an 18-year district resident, is seeking her fourth term. She has been a member of the board since 2002 and is a former president and vice president. Beyer earned a bachelor's degree from the University at Albany in 1982. She and her husband have two children, a daughter who graduated from the district's high school and now is in college, and a son at North Shore High School. She is active in Autism Speaks.

ISSUES:Beyer says the most important issue "is our ability to continue to provide quality educational and extracurricular programs for our students if a tax cap is imposed without mandate relief." While she said she has worked with others since 2005 to address "costly mandates" and share services, those efforts don't reduce costs enough to make up for cuts in state aid or the effects of a property tax cap. At her urging, she said, the board formed a committee, which includes local residents, to draft legislation to help districts control costs. "It is my hope that this committee will partner with other local communities so that we may stand together in numbers to demand the necessary change."

 

Paul J. Echausse

BACKGROUND:Echausse, 50, is an investment manager who has lived in the district for 16 years. This is his second bid for the school board. He and his wife, Beth, have four children, three of whom are in college. The fourth attends a parochial high school. Three of the children attended district schools through the eighth grade, and the oldest graduated from North Shore High School. Echausse graduated from Fordham University in 1983 and received a master's in business administration from New York University's Stern School of Business in 1989 and a law degree from Fordham in 1993. He is on the board of trustees of the Catholic Youth Organization of Nassau-Suffolk, is a former head of St. Boniface CYO Boys Basketball Travel Program, and is a former basketball and lacrosse coach.

ISSUES: "With the prospect of a tax cap forthcoming, I believe we need to engage in a comparative analysis of best-performing school districts and introduce best practices within North Shore," Echausse says. Noting the tax cap in Massachusetts, he says he wants to examine three school districts there to "learn from their experience transitioning their districts through the tax-cap period and the management of a school district under those conditions."

 

Thomas P. Knierim

BACKGROUND:Knierim, 47, a commercial banker, has lived in the district eight years. He and his wife, Elizabeth, have three children, all of whom attend the district's elementary school. He earned a bachelor's degree from Oberlin College in 1985 and a master's degree from Hunter College in 1989. He is coach of Sea Cliff Junior Baseball, leader of entrepreneurial education workshops for Workshop in Business Opportunities, and a former alternate member of the Sea Cliff Zoning Board of Appeals.

ISSUES:Knierim said North Shore, like other districts, is facing "unprecedented financial challenges" because of state aid cuts and the proposed property tax cap, rising pension costs and other expenses that are "outside the district's control." He said North Shore has done an "excellent job" in maintaining quality education and "strong fiscal discipline," which he wants to continue. He said the district is saving $1 million in transportation costs through its new bus facility. "I would look to raise additional revenues through shared use of the facility, as well as finding other areas of the budget where we can cut costs and share services with other districts," he said.

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