2 to 10 p.m. at Elwood Middle School.
The district proposes a $59,484,516 budget for 2015-16, an increase of 1.45 percent from the current $58,634,724. The tax levy would rise 2.09 percent, from $42,669,999 to $43,560,749.
This is equal to the state's tax cap, so a simple majority is required for approval. School taxes on the average single-family home would rise 3.62 percent, from $9,681 to $10,032.
The budget funds an average 2.32 percent increase for teachers, which includes a 0.5 percent contractual increase. The budget calls for the restoration of full-day kindergarten, including 3.3 full-time staff members and includes a full-time teacher for some electives at the high school level. It also calls for 2.8 additional positions for the new Part 154 requirement for bilingual education.
Incumbent Dan Ciccone is being challenged by James Tomeo. Incumbent Joseph Fusaro is being challenged by Heather Mammolito. Terms are three years.
BACKGROUND: Ciccone, 57, works in executive management of a broadcast and digital advertising company and has lived in the district 22 years. He has two children, one who is a student at John Glenn High School and another who graduated from John Glenn. He has served on the board for 12 years and said although he is running independently, he is in full support of the candidacy of his longtime board colleague Joseph Fusaro.
ISSUES: He said the financially restrictive nature of the tax cap during a time of great change, such as the high-stakes testing associated with teacher evaluations and the Common Core curriculum, is one of the greatest issues facing the district. His priority continues to be providing a solid foundation of reading and math literacy during the primary grades. He said he would "seek out every innovation possible to maintain and strengthen our instructional programs." He also said he would work hard to keep costs from escalating.
James TomeoBACKGROUND: Tomeo, 25, is a lifelong resident of the district and is a student completing his senior year in the business and administration program at St. Joseph's College in Patchogue. He plans to graduate this month. He is a graduate of John Glenn High School. Tomeo served as the student council All-School president in 12th grade as well as student liaison to the board of education. He was captain of the tennis team and a lead/senior mentor of Operation Respect. He is part of the accounting and business club at the college. He recently purchased a home in Elwood.
ISSUES: Tomeo said he believes he can represent the community's voice and will provide a fresh voice on the board. "The current incumbents have served for over a decade and I believe the people are looking for someone with gumption, dedication and a drive to further improve the school district," he said. He said he would like to lead the community in a unified manner to provide the best education while utilizing taxpayer dollars in a cost-effective manner.
BACKGROUND: Fusaro, 57, is a financial adviser who has lived in the district for 23 years. He holds a bachelor's in finance from the University of Tampa. He has three sons who attended local schools. He said he supports the candidacy of Dan Ciccone. He has served on the board since 2003.
ISSUES: The most important issue facing the district, Fusaro said, is the limited revenue and state-imposed tax cap to fund increasing state mandates. Fusaro said his business and school board experience allows him to be a "good steward for the district." Fusaro said his immediate focus and target for the district is getting restoration aid "for our full-day kindergarten to the tune of $500,000. That is the immediate focus, and attention is on securing that aid," he said.
BACKGROUND: Mammolito, 39, is a self-employed small-business owner and accounting clerk who has lived in the district more than seven years. She holds a bachelor's degree in sociology from SUNY Plattsburgh. She is the PTA president at Elwood Middle School and is the former PTA president at the Harley Avenue and James H. Boyd schools. She is president of the Elwood Booster Club and corresponding secretary of the Elwood Taxpayers Association. She is committee chair and volunteer for various districtwide events. She has three children in district schools.
ISSUES: The most important issue facing the district is school funding and spending, Mammolito said. The district has struggled to adequately maintain programs with the increasing demands of unfunded mandates and a limited commercial tax base. "I know I can offer a fresh new perspective with regards to cost-saving initiatives that will help improve programs while benefiting taxpayers," she said. "We need to continuously monitor our spending to make sure we are making the most efficient use of our dollars."