Patricia Aitken re-elected to Manhasset school board; budget passes

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Manhasset residents on Tuesday re-elected school board member Patricia Aitken for a fifth three-year term and approved the school district’s $93.8 million budget for 2017-18.

Aitken, who ran unopposed, received 1,429 votes and the budget was passed 1,384 to 375.

Efforts to reach Aitken were unavailing.

Aitken has served on the school board for 12 years and three of her children graduated from Manhasset High School.

In April, she said she wants all of the district’s children to receive the educational opportunities her children did.

“I feel very pleased and proud with how they have benefited from the fine education they got in Manhasset,” Aitken said of her children last month. “It enabled them to go onto successful careers in college and university and afterwards.”

Before joining the school board, she sat on the district’s advisory committee for finance, incorporating skills she developed in corporate banking and financial restructuring, she said.

Last month, she said since her early days on the board there “has been a real complete transformation” in the district.

The shift has included “anything from an improved teacher tenure process to an improved budgeting process,” she said.

The budget, which calls for a 2.02 percent property tax rise, the maximum allowable under the state tax levy cap, increases spending by 2 percent.

The spending increase allows the district to expand high school class offerings, provide Chromebooks for third-, fourth- and fifth-graders, and sustain class sizes at the elementary and secondary levels, among other initiatives.

The minor cuts in the budget were due primarily to personnel changes “including a retirement and a resignation received subsequent to the preliminary budget,” Rosemary Johnson, the deputy superintendent for business and finance, said.

The budget achieves a nine-year average tax levy increase of 1.81 percent, and a nine-year average budgeted expense increase of 1.75 percent, according to a district statement.

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