Voters approve RVC school, library budgets

Hackett, Gruner elected to school board, Ludwig elected to library board


Voters in the Rockville Centre school district approved a $136.4 million budget for the 2023-24 academic year with 67 percent of the vote.

The upcoming spending plan will increase school taxes by an estimated $260 per homeowner, based on information provided by the Nassau County assessor’s office. The tax levy increases by just under 2 percent — just below the district’s state-mandated cap of 2.21 percent.

The budget increases overall spending by 5.7 percent, or $7.4 million. It includes roof repairs and a new artificial-turf field at South Side Middle School, which the district plans to use $4.3 million of its fund balance toward to reduce the impact on taxpayers.

The adopted plan comes with no layoffs or reduction of existing programs, and includes new cybersecurity measures, new classes in coding and robotics for students in all grades, expands the district’s integrated co-teaching model from the elementary school to the middle and high school levels, and provides funding for the addition of a new district-wide security director. It also includes six new sports teams and upgraded locker rooms at South Side High School.

The plan also takes into consideration enrollment changes for students taking special education courses at BOCES, additional support for the high school DECA club, and the increased cost of natural gas, additional security repairs, and reductions in legal services, computer software, workers compensation, retirement breakage, and employee retirement contributions.

Of the $136.4 million expense plan, nearly $79 million will go toward instruction, $31 million to teacher and employee benefits, $13 million to administrative costs, $5 million to transportation, and more than $190,000 to community services.

Incumbent school board secretary Tara Hackett won her re-election bid by an overwhelming majority — more than 2,000 votes — to secure a third term. Hackett has served on the education board since 2017. She has two children in district schools, and has previously served as president of Hewitt Elementary School PTA.

She is also a supporter of the RVC Education Foundation, Friends of MLK, RVC Sponsor of the Arts and the SSHS Booster Club.

Outside of her work with the district, Hackett serves as the major gifts for parent fundraising director at Hofstra University.

Newcomer Janet Gruner also won her campaign with 2,334 votes to serve a three-year term, succeeding Christine Ferazani.

Gruner is a lifelong Rockville Centre resident who graduated from South Side High School in 1995. She previously worked as a social studies teacher at Great Neck North High School for more than 10 years.

She has three children in district schools, and has previously served as president of both the PTA Council and the South Side Middle School PTA.

Challengers Roxanne Rizzi — a public school teacher in New York City with two decades of experience — and Linette Genovese, a lifelong educator and guidance counselor in the Long Beach school district, both lost their bids to join the board.

Voters also approved a nearly $4 million spending plan for the Rockville Centre Public Library with 78 percent of the vote. The adopted budget will raise taxes by $11 a year for the average homeowner.

Library board candidate Michael Ludwig won his bid against challenger Rachel Ferrick by more than 500 votes to return for a three-year term.

He succeeds Rebecca Nothel, and was previously a trustee between 2019 and 2022.