Vote ‘yes’ on East Meadow school budget

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The proposed 2019-20 East Meadow School District budget includes funding for five additional security guards, in addition to the 10 who were hired this school year. The guards are one of several security upgrades the district is proposing, as schools across Nassau County focus on enhancing security.

The budget would also add a health teacher to give 10 lessons in mental health to third- and fourth-grade students.

During a comment period at a school board meeting on April 10, one parent urged the board to increase mental health education. Superintendent Kenneth Card said there were “promising practices emerging” to tackle mental health issues, referring to the plans in the budget, and after the meeting, Trustee Eileen Napolitano promised the parent that she would be included in the dialogue.

The budget — and the board’s reaction to the parent’s plea — prove that officials are listening. East Meadow is making strides to protect students while providing them with a well-rounded education.

The Herald urges residents to pass the spending plan on Tuesday. The airtight proposal, totaling $208.63 million, maintains all district programs and implements a number of changes and improvements to adapt to a modern learning environment. To make such changes, the district would increase the tax levy by 2.14 percent.

In addition to the hiring of additional security guards, some necessary and appropriate measures include a “door-ajar system,” which would alert security officials when a door was slightly open or unlocked; renovations of district athletic fields; new fencing; electrical upgrades; ventilation improvements and new carpeting. Increasing storage space in 2019-20 will be another major expense, due to a spike in enrollment this year.

We believe these improvements are necessary to ensure the advancement and equality of all students.

Elect one incumbent, two newcomers to the board

Voters will elect three candidates to the Board of Education in an at-large, uncontested race.

Last year, district voters passed the 2018-19 budget’s Proposition Three, which altered the board election process. Under the old system, new candidates named the incumbents they wanted to challenge. The new method, at-large voting, pits all candidates against one another for all open seats.

This year, Trustees Joe Parisi and Marcee Rubinstein are stepping down, while board President Matthew Melnick is up for re-election. Dr. Jodi Luce and Allyson Benowitz are vying to fill the two empty seats. The board will appoint a president and vice president in July.

Since his was elected in 2016, Melnick has shown that he can focus on the district’s goal of looking out for its students while keeping taxpayers in mind. He continues to look for new ways to get involved in the community, and is active in all 10 East Meadow PTA units.

Last year, voters approved the district’s first capital reserve fund, which is financing needed repairs and upgrades at all of its buildings and athletic fields. Melnick deserves credit for working with the board to create such a plan and for rallying community support.

As a school and clinical psychologist for 18 years, Luce has a fresh perspective as well as experience in tending students’ mental health needs. And she had a hand in bringing full-day kindergarten to East Meadow, a decades-long goal of parents, board trustees and district officials alike. Luce rallied parents to help pass the program in the 2015-16 budget.

Benowitz is an active member of the community, the president of the Meadowbrook Elementary School PTA for four years and the den leader of Cub Scouts Troop 362 for 10 years. The Herald believes her experience will contribute to the board, and that her goals align with its plan to increase mental health education and improve the school’s athletic fields.

On Tuesday, show your support by voting for these candidates who are dedicated to the district and hope to deepen their involvement for the good of its students.