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Proposed Hewlett-Woodmere School District budget is $126.8 million

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Hewlett-Woodmere School District residents will be voting by mail-in ballots because of the coronavirus pandemic on three propositions, two board of education trustees and a library trustee. Eligible voters were mailed an absentee ballot with a postage-paid envelope to return the ballot. All ballots must be received by 5 p.m. on June 16. 

Incumbent Board of Education Trustees Cheryl May and Paul Critti are running unopposed for the three-year terms that begin on July 1 and expire on June 30, 2023.

Hewlett Harbor resident May is running for her fourth full term. She has served on the board since 2011 and noted that a prime motivator for her to run again is to maintain continuity during the health crisis. 

“This year has been harder than any other year serving on the board because of all the remote learning challenges and remote meetings,” she said. “I didn’t want to leave the community high and dry after going through all these years of serving.” 

May remains hopeful that in-person classes will return in September, she acknowledged that might not be the case. “The normal issues we face as a board are now compounded with making other plans for alternate learning,” she said. “We also will have the huge task of coming up with a contingency plan in case we are not open.”

First elected in May 2019, Critti is finishing up the unexpired term of former Trustee Scott McInnes’ term. “For the past 10 years, I’ve always volunteered in the school district,” Critti said. “Last year, I felt that running for the board was the next step for me to take.” 

Preparation for a second wave of Covid-19 is something that Critti thinks the district should emphasize. “Everyone had a rocky start to this and I think we have to look at what we did do, what worked and what didn't work,” he said. “Hopefully we get over this and don't go through this again, but I’m a realist and I realize this can happen again so it's important to be prepared just in case.”

Ballot Proposition No. 1 is the proposed 2020-21 budget of $126,882,632. It is a 2.89 percent increase from the current budget of $123.3 million. The 2.89 percent increase is in line with the state’s tax levy increase. The anticipated tax levy, the amount of money the district collects from property taxes — is $106,273,125. 

Assistant Superintendent for Business Louis Frontario said that the proposed budget, despite the 2.89 percent spending increase, is in the best interest of the community. 

“An important thing to mention about this proposal is that it preserves everything we know and love about this district,” he said. “This includes clubs and services that are beneficial to our students.” Frontario added that the average budget increase since 2012-2013 has been 2.32 percent.

Proposition No. 2 would allow the district to use $2 million from the Hewlett-Woodmere Long Range Capital Reserve Fund established in 2017, to address a number of maintenance projects.

Proposition No. 3 is the proposed Hewlett-Woodmere Public Library budget of $6,620,961, a $53,515 increase from the current budget. The cost of library materials, resources and services is proposed at $893,520, a $40,000 uptick from current costs. Incumbent library trustee and Hewlett resident Leslie Eisenberg will run unopposed for a second five-year term on the board.

“I am running for another term, to continue working with my fellow trustees and the director, to keep the library running smoothly and efficiently,” Eisenberg said. “It is my hope to further develop and offer a variety of programming, for our community, which will become even more important as a result the current pandemic.”

More information on the budget and propositions can be viewed at: https://bit.ly/3gqX9N7.