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District 14 Budget Approved, New Board Members Voted In

Fiscal plan receives approval with 61 percent of the vote.

Residents of School District 14 on Tuesday approved a $105 million budget that maintains Hewlett-Woodmere’s education programs with the lowest tax levy increase for the district in years.

Central Council PTA Co-President Melissa Gates and physician Jonathan Altus were voted onto the school board, along with incumbent Stephen Witt.

“It means the community continues to support education and the bottom line of the students,” Witt said. “I’m delighted by the results on behalf of our students and students to come.”

According to preliminary election results, the budget, which raises the tax levy by 1.91 percent, was passed by 1,388-877. Proposition 2, which creates a repair reserve fund from surplus funds, also passed by a vote of 1,324-756.

Melissa Gates received 1,605 votes, Witt got 1,501, Altus received 1,325 and opposition candidate Fred Usherson got 824.

Current board members Marcy Goldberg and Jill Stern did not seek reelection.

“I’m very grateful to the community for showing their confidence and I hope to serve them well,” Gates said. She said the budget passing was “a relief.”

Altus said that “it’s exciting I’ll be able to use my energies to make the school district the best possible.”

The Hewlett-Woodmere School District used its in order to meet its budget, which was only slightly higher than last year’s. Most of the increases, district officials said, were due to unfunded mandates.

“The board of education proposed a highly responsible and responsive budget,” said Superintendent Dr. Joyce Bisso. “The community supported their efforts to maintain and improve the instructional programs for our community’s children. We’re all grateful for their support.”

Turnout for this year’s election was much lower than , when about 3,160 people came out to vote.

Cheryl May, who was voted onto the board last year, said she’s “thrilled” the budget passed and that he fellow PTA member, Gates, is joining her on the board.

Fellow Central Council PTA Co-President Mitch Greebel said the district could now go back to doing what it needs to.

“In the end,” he said, “our kids win.”

Susan Britt May 16, 2012 at 03:44 AM
Great everyone...now check your taxes for the coming year and note that you will not be able to sell your homes because of it. Check the records of houses which have sold. This district is amazing in that whenever a budget is passed somehow the administration gets extraordinary raises which no one else in this economy gets. No one checks to see how money is truly spent in the district or if there is surplus which can be used to hold the line on increases. No one in the district feels they have to tighten their belts to get through this economy and avoid increrases in taxes. So enjoy the sports programs and the extracurricular activities!
Jonathan Altus May 16, 2012 at 03:48 AM
I would like to thank the community for their support in electing me to the school board. I would also like to congratulate Steve Witt and Melissa Gates on their election and on the budget passing. I look forward to working with them and the rest of the board. I wish Fred Usherson the best of luck and I hope he continues to be an advocate for the children of the community. A special thank you to the Five Towns Patch for letting the community engage in the discussion and promoting democracy. Jon Altus
Bojames May 16, 2012 at 12:19 PM
Concern over taxes ? More info about "Clergy " exemption on private houses which passes huge tax exemptions to others in UFSD 14 clergyexemption@gmail.com
5TResident May 16, 2012 at 12:48 PM
You make an interesting point, Ms. Britt. The School Board in District 15 has been trying to do exactly what you're complaining about here for the past few years - hold the line as much as possible on the school budget and making the system as efficient as possible so as to keep taxes as low as possible. Unfortunately, this has required some "belt tightening", as you put it, such as consolidating schools that are half empty and holding the line on teacher contracts. Yet, there are more complaints and more strife here than in District 14 because the majority of District 15 school board members do not send their children to the public schools. This has led to ugly charges of religious favoritism and outright anti-Semitism. Many people here think that only public school parents have the right to make financial decisions for the school system. Its a fair argument, but there is just one problem - the "private school" parents pay the same school taxes as the public school parents, even though they do not use the public school system at all. In this country, payment of taxes gives you certain rights, including the right to make your voice heard on how the taxes are spent. This seems to be a never-ending fight. So be careful what you wish for, Ms. Britt. You might get it and you might not like what you get.
Chris Albanese May 16, 2012 at 04:55 PM
Well said. Stay classy Doc.
Chris Albanese May 16, 2012 at 05:02 PM
Susan I agree with what you are saying and I believe the current Board understands our frustration with the compesation packages that were given in years past. Let's all work together now to ensure fiscal responsibility and accountability to our children and our community. I voted for the trio because I felt they understood why we as taxpayers were upset and the incumbents have already taken steps to put us back on course. If we see that the next group of admiistrators or contractors are awarded unrealistic or unsustainable contracts, then we will know that they broke their promises to us and will vote them out next time around like we will do in November with Mr. Hope & Change & every TV show I can get my face on..
r May 18, 2012 at 07:50 PM
its very true we are seeking a home in SD#14 and over look certain properties because of the ridiculous taxes im taking $14,000 and over. We are living in tough times and cant take the chance.... We know there are people who have lost their jobs that are being forclosed on and cant afford to live in the district anymore. As more people graduate with out jobs the younger generation with children will end up moving somwhere relse. What is the point of a great school district if enrollment begins to dwindle?
Befair April 01, 2013 at 03:44 PM
Let's not look at district 15. Let's look at another example. Great neck schools. Better by far than district 14. Taxes? About 40% less. Why is that? You guys are going to price yourselves out of the market on the biggest assets you have. Even the valley stream school district has a better percentage of students meeting standards than district 14. Just google it. It's there in black and white. And the taxes are much lower there. It's something to investigate. Why we have to hit the reserve. Maybe some of the staff should take a pay cut. I mean really. It's not NYU we are talking about here.
Jacob S. April 09, 2013 at 05:13 PM
Yes, You Can't Sell Your House in District 14. Prices keep Dropping. Prices in District 15 are about $200,000 Higher per house since the Overall Tax Bill is Double in 14. The School Tax Portion is More than Double. As Taxes go Up, Values Go Down. People are Afraid to buy in District 14 with the Never Ending Tax Increases and a Near 110 Million Dollar Budget, and Long Term Debt. It Doesn't Pay to Move into the District Unless you send your kids to the Public Schools. Even The Public School Parents Immediately Sell their Homes upon Graduation. Not a Very Stable Area.
5TResident April 09, 2013 at 05:18 PM
It seems that some District 15 residents would approve having $14,000 per year in taxes if it meant that private school parents could not be on the board.
Jacob S. April 09, 2013 at 05:55 PM
District 15 is Basically a Voucher System. They Still Spend Roughly $30,000 per student in the Public School system. School Taxes are $492 Dollars Versus District 14's - $1,141 per Hundred Dollars of Assessed Value. In other words, District 15 Tax Rate is 40% of District 15's. This is why Houses Sell for So Much More in District 15. My estimation is $200,000 more on a larger home. In District 15, if you do not want to use the Public schools, you have enough money to pay for the Private Schools. More Freedom from being held hostage by the school district, and the ability to keep living in your home after retirement.

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