6 a.m. to 9 p.m. at Commack High School and Commack Middle School.
The district proposes a $185,123,747 budget for 2015-16, a 1.03 percent increase from the current $183,234,238. The tax levy would rise 0.95 percent, from $130,689,787 to $131,931,340.
This increase falls within the state's tax-cap limit of 1.28 percent, so a simple majority is required to approve the budget. School taxes would rise 0.95 percent, from $10,522 to $10,622, for an average single-family home in the Town of Huntington, and from $9,984 to $10,079 in the Town of Smithtown.
Salary negotiations with the district's teachers are underway. The budget calls for smaller classes, additions in Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate classes, and the enhancement and restoration of secondary sports. It also calls for increased districtwide security and expansion of special education programs.
The budget funds an enhanced middle school enrichment program and adds six new courses (new total is 10 courses for seventh- and eighth-graders). It adds five staff teachers, 2.5 for ENL (English as a New Language) and three for AIS (Academic Intervention Services).
Jarret M. Behar and William Marchesi are running for the seat currently held by Deborah Guber, who is not seeking re-election. Terms are three years.
Jarrett M. BeharBACKGROUND: Behar, 38, is an attorney who has lived in the district for nine years. He holds a bachelor's degree in political science from the University of Florida and a Juris Doctor degree from NYU. He has served as the PTA budget representative and the PTA treasurer for the Rolling Hills Primary School. He serves as the Commack PTA Counsel Budget Committee co-chair and has served as a Commack South Little League manager 2012 to 2015. He also is an assistant coach with Dix Hills Basketball. He has one child attending the district and a preschooler.
ISSUES: Behar said the most important issue facing Commack in the next several years is the state's "current attempt to handcuff our teachers and burden our students with ineffective high-stakes standardized testing." He said the policies behind these tests are based on flawed premises and improper motives. As a board member, he would continue to lobby state leaders to eliminate these tests and "get these invasive and burdensome tests out of our schools." He also would "continue to advocate for both the complete phaseout of the Gap Elimination Adjustment and other increases in state funding so that Commack can continue to improve while also reducing the burden on the community."
BACKGROUND: Marchesi, 62, is a retired Teamster official and currently a safety supervisor for a bus company. He has lived in the district 56 years. He is a graduate of the local schools and has a son who also graduated from the Commack schools. He is a member of the Commack Civic Association and is a committee-person for the Smithtown Republican Committee and belongs to the R. Warren Republican Club of Commack.
ISSUES: Marchesi says transparency is the No. 1 issue facing district residents. He said the district's budget, as well as the budgeting process, could be made a lot more clear to the community. He also said he believes all students should be represented and every student should have a voice in school district matters.