Residents in Malverne and West Hempstead will have the opportunity to vote on their school budgets and board of education candidates on Tuesday.
Malverne is proposing a $64,407,654 budget-a 3.96% increase from last year. In addition to the funds necessary for the general operation of the district, the funds will be used for the implementation of a global language program at the elementary level and the expansion of the district’s coding program.
The district is also proposing a 1.99% or $916,156 increase in tax levy. However, this still comes in at under the legal state minimum. The district says that it was able to manage this mainly due to the $2,199,737 increase in state aid they received this school year.
Voters will also vote on a 2,595,379.88 proposition to approve the implementation of capital improvements to district facilities, such as new windows, repairs to the track and two new school buses.
West Hempstead is proposing a budget of $71,392,000, which represents an increase of 2,487,000 from last year. The increase is mainly due to increases in expenses such as insurance premiums, transportation and retirement plans as well as traditional cost-of-living expenses.
Additionally, some of the key items the money will used for include the hiring of a full-time custodian at Chestnut Street School, new math and science programs, social emotional learning programs, the continuing of the seal of civic readiness program and a flag football team sponsored by the New York Jets.
Tax levy has increased 2.14%, still within the allowable levy limit for the district.
Incumbent Malverne trustee Laura Avvinti is running unopposed for her seat.
She is a 20-year resident and works as a court clerk for the Village of Floral Park. She is married to her husband Vito.
Her biggest priority is ensuring the mental health of students.
“I’m very much about advocating for mental health awareness and ensuring that our students are offered as much time with counselors as possible, to ensure that they are not only getting an education but that we are offering them social emotional learning in order to treat the whole person.”
In West Hempstead, four candidates are running for three seats on the West Hempstead school board but only one is in competition.
Burt Blass is running against Jennifer Johnson for incumbent Gavi Hoffman’s seat, who is not seeking another term.
Incumbent Karen Brohm is running unopposed for another term.
Byars Cole is running unopposed for incumbent Patricia Greaves’ seat, who is not seeking reelection.
Blass is an accountant and financial manager, having started his career in public accounting before moving into financial analysis for major oil companies before most recently working as a financial manager for Albert Einstein College of Medicine.
One of his major goals is to help parents of special needs children.
“As someone whose son has special needs, albeit in a private school, it was a major battle to get the resources that he was legally entitled to,” Blass said. “We did it but it wasn’t easy and now it has became my passion. It’s tough enough that parents have these issues but I want to help them navigate the system and get the resources they need.”
Johnson has been in the education field for over 21 years, now working as a speech language pathologist for Nassau BOCES.
One thing she would like to do if elected is to continue to enhance the district’s technology infrastructure.
“I want to continue to improve our district’s education in regards to if we ever have to go remote again,” Johnson said. “I’d like to do some more research on how to improve that.”
Brohm is the Deputy Director of the communications bureau of the Nassau County Police Department and is a lifelong West Hempstead resident.
This will be her fifth election to the board but her work is far from finished. Of her specific goals for her next term, she says,
“I want to see the completion of the bond, maintain the fiscal responsibility of the district, maintain programs, give the children the best education possible and increase community involvement.”
Cole currently works in business development for a software company and previously worked in film production and media. Additionally, he has previously served on the board and is eager to serve again.
One of his biggest priorities on the board would be to continue the district’s work to prepare students for life after high school.
“We’ve made tremendous strides in those STEM programs so I want to continue those and especially try to get girls into technology, as well as other careers,” Cole said. “Not everybody is going to be going to college; before covid, we had some really interesting career days. The district brought in people from all different lines of work from doctors and lawyers but also union folks to expose kids to those careers and I did a presentation on film production.”
Voting is slated for May 17 from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. and voters should report to the middle school gym of their respective districts.