Voting on Uniondale budget, board is Tuesday


Uniondale school district residents can exercise their right to vote on May 21, the day that all school budgets, Board of Education candidates and district propositions are on the ballot.

The proposed fiscal plan for Uniondale’s 2024-2025 school year is $266.73 million, a more than $10 million increase from the current operating budget. The district is expected to receive a nearly $5 million uptick in gross state aid.

Three of the major jumps in spending can be attributed to tuition/charter expenses of $3.5 million. Debit service is going up by $2.57 million and transportation costs will increase $2.28 million.

Other increases include salaries/benefits at $828,256, special education $706,108, BOCES $443,319 and supplies coupled with what the district termed other is going up by nearly $4000,000.

Steve Bermudez is challenging incumbent Board of Education Trustee Natalie Longsworth. Trustee Charmise Desiré is running unopposed. All terms are three years.

Bermudez, a 1990 Uniondale High graduate, said he takes pride in the education he received from the school district, and would like to contribute to the community. He said that the district is being hit hard by the loss of the federal Covid money and concerned about the 3.4 tax levy increase. He wants to help be a good steward of the money that is being spent and help ensure that the district is in compliance with having the proper special education therapists in place.

“I’m a big supporter of the kids and the taxpayers and I want to do whatever I can to help,” Bermudez said, adding that he is proponent of mentoring and said, ‘The Big Brother/Big Sister is a program that could benefit our school district.”

Running for her second term, Longsworth said she is very proud of the district accomplishments from having a “dynamic superintendent” — Monique Darrisaw-Akil — to creating and applying a strategic plan that was presented to a national audience in New Orleans.

Continuity, is why Longsworth currently the board’s vice president, is running again saying, “We made some tremendous strides in education for our children,” pointing to enhanced support for special education, the program for autistic students, the graduation rate and the amount of students headed to Ivy League colleges and building a vocational program.

On the board since 2018, Desiré has served the district as a PTA member, founding president of the Uniondale High School Football Parent Booster Club and on a variety of district interview committees, the Uniondale High Education Committee, the Technology Committee, the Pupil Capacity Focus Group and as a computer instructor for the adult education program.

Also on the ballot is Proposition One that asks voters to approve the spending of a little more than $1 million for upgrades and renovations at the elementary schools, Walnut Street, California Avenue, Northern Parkway and Smith Street, and Turtle Hook Middle School.

At Northern Parkway the district aims to spend $300,000 to replace the roof above the fifth grade wing and $125,000 to upgrade the natural gas line that connects to the school’s boilers. At Walnut spend $130,000 to replace all the hallway ceiling tiles and classroom and sink renovations totaling $50,000.

Repair and refinish 11 classroom wood floors for $110,000 and classroom and sink renovations costing $50,000 at California Avenue. Another upgrade to a natural gas line for $125,000 at Turtle Hook. Installation of a new exit door from the kitchen to the outdoor walk-in freezer at Smith Street for $95,000 and classroom and sink renovations for $50,000.

Voting takes place on Tuesday, May 21 from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m., at California Elementary School, 235 California Ave.; Grand Avenue Elementary School, 711 School Drive, North Baldwin; Northern Parkway Elementary, 440 Northern Parkway; Smith Street Elementary School, 780 Smith St.; and Walnut Street Elementary School, 1270 Walnut St.