By a count of 1,967 votes to 589, residents overwhelmingly approved the Long Beach School District’s $135 million budget for the 2017-18 school year on Tuesday.
The spending plan, which is 0.15 percent smaller than thisyear’s budget and includes a 1.99 percent tax levy increase, passed with about 77 percent of the vote. District officials estimated that the $99 million tax levy would increase the average single-family household’s taxes by $100.
Incumbent Board of Education Trustees Dr. Dennis Ryan and Maureen Vrona were re-elected to three-years terms, defeating newcomer Lori Montgomery, a former nurse in the district. Ryan and Vrona garnered 1,727 and 1,454 votes, respectively, while Montgomery received 1,327.
“I want to thank everybody who participated in the election, for those candidates that ran, people that helped run people’s campaigns, and for our voters,” Schools Superintendent David Weiss said at a school board meeting late Tuesday night at Long Beach Middle School.
Residents also approved the Long Beach Public Library’s $3.4 million budget, by a count of 2,080 votes to 445. With two trustee seats up for election, Sam Pinto earned the most votes, 1,785, while incumbent Kathleen Dwyer — who was appointed to the board in October, after former Trustee Alan Greenberg resigned — had 1,517, defeating incumbent Warren Vegh, who had previously served on the board for 15 years. Vegh received 859 votes.
“It’s really exciting that the community came together and they offered me their support,” Pinto said. “I appreciate them, and hopefully I can serve them well as a library trustee.” Dwyer was not immediately available for comment.
Ryan has served on the school board for nine years, and ran on a platform focused on maintaining the quality of educational programs, staff and resources, like the science lab and students’ Chromebooks. Vrona pledged her commitment to more fully engaging students in their education.
The two incumbents addressed many issues during the campaign, including an ongoing disciplinary hearing for a middle school teacher accused of abuse, continuing contract negotiations with the Long Beach School Employees Association, the Common Core curriculum, and tax break requests from the Manhattan-based developer iStar for its project on the Superblock.
“The district put together a very solid budget,” said Matt Adler, Long Beach resident and Seaford High School math teacher. “Residents had their chance to voice their concerns, and they let their voice be heard. It’s always good to have an election that brings up ideas that might not have been brought up if it wasn’t contested,” he continued. “It’s good for the community and for us moving forward.”
The budget and election results were announced at the late-night school board meeting. Ryan congratulated Vrona, and wished her luck in her second term.
“I also want to give condolences to Ms. Montgomery,” Ryan said. “It’s not easy to step up and put yourself out there and deal with all the bumps that come with a public election.”
He hoped to see her at future board meetings, he said, citing her large following, to which she replied, “You will see me. You will see me.”
About 6.5 percent of registered voters cast ballots. “It’s a sad, sad day when only between 6 and 7 percent of this community, on a beautiful spring day, comes out to vote,” Ryan said.