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Mineola School Budget Passes

McGrath Re-elected, Napolitano Elected

Even with residents feeling the effects of a nationwide recession, enough residents came out to support the Mineola School District’s proposed budget for the 2009-2010 school year. The budget passed easily by a 1,088 to 595 margin. 

Here is how each of the schools voted: 

Cross Street School – 241 to 124 in favor
Hampton Street School – 193 to 103 in favor
Jackson Avenue School – 362 to 240 in favor
Meadow Drive School – 292 to 128 in favor

The budget amounts to a $79,239,241 spending plan for approximately 2,700 students for a $29,347 cost per pupil. The budget increases spending by 1.17 percent of the 2008-2009 budget and the tax levy increase amounts to a 2.45 percent increase. The average household in the district with a school tax bill of $5,400 will see a tax increase of $132.

The school district passed its budget for the 2009-2010 school year without cutting any programs including athletics and extracurricular activities and also without closing any schools.

Closing a school or schools has been discussed as a cost-cutting method. However, there hadn’t been enough support to close a school for the 2009-2010 school year. The board is still expected to discuss whether it will close a school, but with the budget passing, it seems unlikely.

School board member John McGrath ran for re-election on the platform that no school should be closed. McGrath, who is the most senior member of the board, felt that there isn’t enough of a savings in closing a school to warrant jeopardizing the educational program the school district delivers. McGrath will serve another three-year term on the board.

“I wanted people to say either ‘yes’ or ‘no’ [on closing a school]. I wanted the voters to come out and say whether they wanted to close schools or keep them open and I think, to a certain extent, this vote said that. My election means, at least to some degree, that people would prefer to see the schools remain open,” said McGrath.

McGrath ran against challenger Kathy Darmstadt, who ran for the first time for the board of education. Darmstadt has been a member of the school-community-based finance committee and has a sharp eye for finances. Although unsuccessful in her first bid for the board, Darmstadt could very well have a future on the board of education. She received 733 votes as opposed to McGrath’s 830.

Also elected along with McGrath was Christine Napolitano, who was unopposed for the seat occupied by Steve Siwinski, who decided to retire from the board. Napolitano, who will serve her first term on the board, believed that the budget votes should decide if the board should close a school. She received 1,103 votes.

Napolitano, who has been active in the school district and has attended practically every board of education meeting, is looking forward to working with the administration to continue the school district on the path it’s on.

For Superintendent of Schools Dr. Larry Licopoli, this was his last budget vote as superintendent and it was a successful one. Dr. Licopoli will be retiring at the end of June. Deputy Superintendent Dr. Michael Nagler will become the new superintendent on July 1. Napolitano will be sworn in as a member of the school board in July.