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Mineola School District Budget Passes

Mineola resident Dr. Margaret Ballantyne-Mannion celebrated a birthday Tuesday, May 20; one that ended with her taking a seat on the Mineola Board of Education for the 2014-15 school year as a new trustee, and the passage of the $87 million budget for the upcoming fiscal year by a 2-1 margin (760-328). She, along with incumbent trustee Nicole Matzer, received 751 and 759 votes, respectively.


Current trustee William Hornberger’s announced he would not seek a new term on the board in April, which vacated a seat. Ballantyne-Mannion, a resident of Mineola since 1972, announced her candidacy shortly before Hornberger’s decision. She currently holds an A.M. and

Ph.D in Hispanic studies from Brown University and is a professor of Spanish at CUNY York College.


 “It made me feel very real, so I’m excited; I’m excited about the (Spanish immersion program), I’m excited about the curriculum for science and art, there’s a lot of good curriculum stuff that I’m interested in working on,” Ballantyne-Mannion said.


Board members feel her experience in education and Matzer’s time on the board will aid to the school board’s function.


“She’s a professor of Spanish studies,” board president Artie Barnett said of Ballantyne-Mannion. “She’s going to be great. She’s an educator and she knows her way around the table and around the board.”


At the Jackson Avenue School last week, District Superintendent Michael Nagler announced a total of 1,088 votes cast, a little over 600 total votes less than last year.


“[Ballantyne-Mannion] comes with a wealth of experience and knowledge in education, been a professor for years and I think she brings a wonderful perspective as we move forward,” Nagler said.


According to district officials, there have now been at least seven consecutive passed budgets in the district.


“It’s healthy,” said Barnett. “That’s a very healthy pass.”


The 2014-15 budget totals $87,799,041, representing an increase in spending of about $1.65 million, or a 1.92-percent budget-to-budget increase. The levy for 2014-15 is $79,045,241, a 1.46-percent hike over last year, or $1.13 million.


“We’re happy to put out a financially responsible budget that expands our programs and offers this community a great school system,” Nagler said. 


The budget includes no cuts to programs or activities, maintains staff and professional development and will continue expansion of half-day pre-K to five days per week for all students, outsourcing universal pre-K to Harbor Child Care to provide 54 seats for the program, continuing of technology initiatives, including the iPad initiative for grades three through nine, science labs for grades three through seven and an expanded dual language program at the Jackson Avenue and Meadow Drive schools.


The budget will also allow for the continued replacement of school buses according to a five-year plan and facilities upgrades including seats and flooring for the middle school auditorium, a new public address system at Hampton, and air conditioning at the elementary schools.


Matzer, a current trustee who was appointed to the board in 2013 to fill the remaining term of former trustee Terence Hale, who resigned last year. Matzer was sworn in to her new full term immediately due to the completion of the appointment period.


“It feels wonderful,” Matzer said of being elected to her first term outright. “I’m very excited, I’m very honored and I’m looking forward to the next three years.”


She has previously volunteered in the district, starting as the PTO president of the Willis Avenue School for two years when her daughter was at the school. She also served as district council co-president.


“It’s just the two of us and there’s two seats so we weren’t competing against each other,” Matzer said.