Polls will open for the school budget votes and school board elections in Oceanside and Island Park on May 21 from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Here’s what you should know before filling out your ballot.
Oceanside School District
Oceanside’s proposed $157.2 million school budget maintains all existing programs while introducing new initiatives, including the hiring of a security consulting company to assist with all district-wide safety measures.
The proposed budget includes funds for new playgrounds at Schools No. 2 and 4, new security systems at all schools, a replacement message board at the high school and 12 collaborative learning environments — six in the elementary schools and six at the high school — that would have new, flexible furniture to use in computer labs and classrooms. District officials have also budgeted for new staff positions, including one health and wellness counselor for elementary schools and a director of data, assessment and administrative services.
The spending plan is a 2.19 percent increase over the 2018-19 budget. Officials plan to generate $125.9 million from tax revenue, a 2.3 percent tax-levy increase. This year’s state tax cap was 2.67 percent.
“Our budget season has gone very smoothly, we’re very appreciative of that,” said Superintendent Dr. Harrington at the May 8 budget hearing. “But it does concern me that that tends to lead to apathetic voting, so please, if you are a district resident or wherever you live, remind people that every vote counts and get that vote out.”
The budget vote also includes a separate capital reserve fund proposition. Voters will decide whether the district use the fund for renovations to the high school’s 13-year-old turf field, which would also add protective netting around the interior perimeter between the field and track, and the replacement of three interior doors at the high school.
The total of the two projects is not to exceed $800,000 at no additional cost to taxpayers and is eligible for 45 percent state building aid. “It is money the district already has, but by law we need voter approval,” said Christopher van Cott, assistant superintendent of business.
Current school board trustees Robert Transom and Michael D’Ambrosio are each running for uncontested re-elections. Transom has served on the board for 21 years and D’Ambrosio for six.
Island Park Public Schools
In Island Park, school officials have proposed a budget of $40.3 million, a 1.07 percent increase over the current spending plan. The district plans to generate $32.4 million from tax revenue, a 1.42 percent tax-levy increase over this year.
The spending plan would maintain all current programs and services, according to the district’s business administrator, Albert Chase. “We’re still very healthy financially and able to have low tax and overall budget increases year to year,” he said.
“We’ve kept our focus on maintaining a tax levy of 1.5 percent or less, realizing the community is concerned about LIPA,” Superintendent Dr. Rosmarie Bovino told the Herald, referring to the looming settlement on Long Island Power Authority’s case to lower its taxes for its Island Park plant, E.F. Barrett Generation Station, which would raise property taxes for residents.
“We were able to plan for the future for new programs while leaving in place our successful programs,” she added.
The proposed budget would put money aside for new English Language Arts program materials, technology upgrades, the purchase of Chromebooks for classroom use and the introduction of new literacy, reading and writing programs for all grade levels. It also includes high school tuition for Long Beach and West Hempstead high schools, busing to high school, BOCES and private schools and the purchase of one school bus for $60,000.
Current school board trustee Tara Byrne will run unopposed for re-election. She has served on the board for five years.
The school budget vote and Board of Education election is May 21. In Oceanside, residents may vote at School Nos. 5, 6, 7 and 8, depending on their street address. In Island Park, voting will take place at Lincoln Orens Middle School.