The $256 million Uniondale school district budget for 2023-2024 school year was approved by voters 623 to 244 on Tuesday.
Incumbent Trustee Mary Bediako, who currently serves as the Board of Education president, defeated challenger Olga Moreneo-Hernandez 490 to 356 for the three-year term. Bediako is a retired educator with more than 40 years of experience. Moreno-Hernandez is a local activist.
Bediako said her mission remains the same. “[To] lead and help achieve the district’s goals,” she said.
Noting there is much more to do, Bediako said, “This board is actually working, we’ve achieved so many things it seems like.”
She called the students in the district “stars,” adding, “We want them to shine and we are going to help them shine, and they are going to be the light of this nation.”
Hernandez said she was hoping to advocate from the inside, but insists the election losss will not keep her from fighting for her community, the students in the district and working to combat the “closeted racism” they face daily.
A proposition was also approved — 636 to 177 — that will allow the school district to spend $907,000 from the reserve fund.
Upgrades are planned to multiple school buildings and include removing and replacing gymnasium dividing walls at several schools, replacing the gym bleachers at the high school and installing new entrance doors to replace damaged doors.
The approved fiscal plan will also allow the district to offer a variety of new resources such as after school programs, a new autism program at California Avenue Elementary School, and a new career and technical education program featuring courses on construction systems, CAD (computer aided design), CAP (computer aided production), small engines repairs, and welding courses in partnership with the Lincoln Institute.
Superintendent Monique Darrisaw-Akil said these programs are aimed at helping children learn the skills necessary to succeed in the outside world and have the opportunity to compete for good, high-paying jobs after graduation.
She also boasted about Uniondale’s recent academic performance, saying that 93.9 percent of seniors in the district applied to at least one college or trade school.
Akil also noted that out of that number, 10 students received full scholarships with nine seniors being awarded the Dream.US a national scholaship for high school and college students that helps fund the education of undocumented students, also known as Dreamers. The other student received the Simon Scholarship, which focuses on helping economically disadvantaged teenagers by guaranteeing them a pathway to a doctirate degree.
Bediako said that statistic of nearly 94 percent is merely a testament to the work that the board and the Uniondale student body have done.
“It’s impressive, it has never been accomplished before in this district,” she said, noting that the student success will continue. “I only want the best for the students, we are going to put Uniondale on the map.”