Written by Rich Forestano Friday, 27 May 2011 00:00
It was the talk of board meetings; you heard it in the halls and parking lots and was endlessly discussed on District Superintendent Dr. Michael Nagler’s blog. Would the budget pass? Would Mineola welcome two new board members? Could the reconfiguration be done away with?
Last Tuesday, Mineola got its answer. The Mineola School District budget passed last week, with a yes/no vote of 1633-1194. The public voted on a budget increase of 5.11 percent and a tax levy of 2.37.
Next year’s budget is set at $84,221,638. The current 2010-2011 district budget is $80,128,573.
“This board has been adamant that this is the plan,” Nagler said. “When they put out the first bond in September, this plan was outlined. The plan was always there. This has been a year in the making and I’m just happy to see the ending of one chapter and the beginning of the next chapter.”
Two seats were open for the taking last week, and all eyes were on the four candidates: current Board of Education President Terence Hale, Trustee William Hornberger and challengers Veronica Levitan of Albertson and Joseph Manopella of Williston Park. Incumbents Hale and Hornberger retained their seats on the board with 1,647 and 1,662 respectively. Levitan grabbed 1,022 votes while Manopella attained 860.
“Tonight’s turnout just showed that [the residents] voted the bums in,” Hale said joking about the flier circulating the village to “Throw the Bums Out.” “The district believes in what we do. They believe in advocates; they don’t believe in hypocrites.
“We’re going to move forward now,” Hale said. “Things are going to be great for Mineola. Now I can get some sleep.”
Albertson resident Gerard Magaldi was not on the ballot. He resigned from the race earlier this month for unknown reasons.
Hale said in his 16 years in being involved, he never saw such a buzz in the community concerning a school budget. It was the “talk of the town.” “It was on everyone’s mind, dinner table, every street corner and supermarket,” he said. “It was everywhere.”
Rumors ran rampant in the district, with theories of a new regime doing away with the current reconfiguration and keeping schools open while adopting a new plan. Those theories and skeptical thoughts came to a stop last week.
“It would’ve been a lot of turmoil and chaos to just undo three years of work, providing that rumor was true,” Hale said. “I could never understand that; the whole feeling of that. I have no hard feelings for the other candidates. They stood up; they ran for the board. People want what’s best for their children and tonight’s turnout showed.”
Finance Superintendent Jack Waters recently said Mineola received an additional $130,000 in state aid from the original proposal by Governor Andrew Cuomo. Without including Education Jobs Fund aid, Mineola experienced a state aid reduction of approximately $140,000.
All current programs are included in the budget, as well as a $500,000 facility upgrade, which has been applied to such projects as the Hampton Street School press box.
“I thank all the voters who came out, regardless of which side they voted for,” Hornberger said. “I think the votes just decided what people want for the path into the future of this district, which is to focus on the education of the children. I look forward to another three years.”
“I should have brought pots and pans like New Year’s Eve,” resident Linda Ramos said in the hallway of Jackson Avenue School.
Following the announcement of the results, Superintendent Nagler expressed his relief at the results and the ending of the three-year process of reconfiguring the school district.
“We can move forward properly and transition the children properly for next year and the year after,” he said. “I’m very happy. It’s good to know that we’re moving ahead with what we’ve been planning for four months and things aren’t going to change and we know what our projects are, our capital work, and we’re going to get moving on them.”