The North Shore School District’s budget passed on Tuesday night, as did its two propositions, despite a campaign from some district residents to reject it. Additionally, incumbent school board Trustees Andrea Macari and Richard Galati won re-election in unopposed races.
The total count of votes for the budget amounted to 1,638, while 1,510 district residents voted “no.” Last year the budget passed by only 17 votes, so although just 128 more residents approved than disapproved of the budget this year, the margin of victory was greater.
Proposition 2 passed with 1,641 votes for and 1,472 votes against, and Proposition 3 passed with 1,620 for and 1,472 against.
“I think this is an exciting win for the community,” Dave Ludmar, president of the school board, said after the vote count. “I think it is a reinforcement of the truth we know about North Shore, which is that this community values education and values our kids, so I was certainly buoyed to know we were able to pass this.”
Although there were 98 unopened mail-in ballots when the vote was called, the difference between the “yes” and “no” votes were too great to change the total.
The budget for the 2023-24 scholastic year is just over $120.3 million, marking a roughly $4 million increase over the current spending plan. The largest contributor to the budget in-crease was rising employee benefit, which constituted roughly 60 percent of the growth. Other major factors included infrastructure demands, central services and transportation throughout the district.
The loss of revenue from the Long Island Power Authority deal also made an important impact on the budget. Tax costs that were borne by LIPA in previous years had to be covered by homeowners. Compared with 2001, homeowners will be providing the district with roughly 29 percent more in taxes to cover the loss from LIPA.
The two propositions which passed focused on the district’s capital reserve fund, which was originally established in 2016 and holds $1.9 million. The first asked the community to amend the goals of the capital reserve to include the replacement of the artificial-turf field, which administrators and members of the school board said could not have been covered by the budget alone.
The second proposition was to authorize using funds already in the capital reserve to pay for the new field and to convert an existing classroom into a dance space. Funds in the capital reserve cannot be accessed without the support of district voters, so the move had to be put to a vote.
Administrators and trustees from the board have argued for the need to use funds from the capital reserve throughout the budget process. The turf field is over 10 years old, past its standard life expectancy, and parents and supporters of district athletics have been pushing for a new one for years, while the growing participation of students in the dance program has precipitated the need for a devoted dance space.
“We’re very pleased that the propositions have passed, all three,” Chris Zublionis, the district’s superintendent, said. “It was a close election, we recognize that, and we’re very appreciative and we’re going to get right to work with some of these new initiatives.”
The two candidates who won re-election, clinical psychologist Andrea Macari and retired teacher Richard Galati, will be entering their second and third terms, respectively. Both said they were happy to be re-elected and were looking forward to continuing to serve their community.
“I’m very pleased to be able to serve another three years on the board of education for North Shore Schools,” Galati, who used to teach in the district, said. “This district means so much to me, and this community means so much to me, and I’m going to try my best to keep my ears open and hear people from all sides.”
“I am incredibly thankful for the community to come out and vote,” Macari said. “It’s the community that I have lived in my entire life, and I cannot wait to continue my commitment to it.”