Kerpen, Gilliar elected to Port school board; budget passes

Dave Kerpen and Rachel Gilliar

Residents on Tuesday elected Rachel Gilliar and Dave Kerpen to the Port Washington Board of Education and passed the 2017-18 school budget.

Gilliar received 1,998 votes and Kerpen received 1,750 votes to replace outgoing school board members Alan Baer and Christina Nadolne.

Peter Smith, who was vying for one of the two open seats, got 1,191 votes.

The school’s $151 million budget, which calls for a $4.5 million increase in spending and a 2.3 percent tax levy increase, passed 2,453 to 624.

Kerpen said he is excited to increase communication and transparency between the board and the school community.

He taught math in New York City for three years and is the CEO and co-founder of Likeable Media, a social media marketing company.

“I know the board can and will do a better job to get the word out,” he said.

He said he is a team player and the background that he will bring to the board will help in a unique way.

“I will be relying on the rest of the board, too,” he said. “I am a team player and the board functions as a team.”

Kerpen has lived in Port Washington for seven years and briefly ran for Queens borough president in 2009.

He said he is not only grateful for the volunteers and supporters who helped him get elected, but also for the Home and School Association and the parent councils for getting the budget passed.

“People don’t realize the hard work these groups put in and they are really important,” he said.

At 9 p.m. Tuesday, Kerpen, who ran a marathon a few years ago, told his wife, Carrie, that it felt like he was on mile 25.

“I was exhausted emotionally, mentally and physically, but I knew the finish line was coming soon,” he said. “But now I am really excited because I have many plans to bring to the board.”

Gilliar, a lawyer, said she believes the message she was preaching during the campaign resonated with voters.

“My message has been that we’ve been reactive for too long, because of pressures of the tax cap and growing enrollment,” she said. “Even though we’ve had budget increases, they have been small and we’ve had to cut programs that parents and teachers thought were important.”

She said she wants the district to look at programs and “reaffirm what we want from school and see how we can make that happen.”

“I think this is a victory for excellence in education,” she said.

She said her experience as a parent to young children will set her apart from other board members.

Gilliar also said her law career allows her to work and learn about other people’s situations and help their interest, a skill she said would be vital as a school board member.

Smith did not respond to a request for comment.

The budget calls for medical insurance spending increases from $19 million to $21 million as insurance rates increased this year, Mary Callahan, the district’s assistant superintendent for business, said.

The district allocated funds to hire two new administrators for the district, including a new elementary assistant principal and an associate administrative literary specialist, as well as a district-wide nurse and 15.4 instructional positions, some of which will split time between schools.

The proposed hires include a high school English teacher, a high school art teacher and music, health, foreign language and physical education teachers, as well as general teachers.

Teacher salary spending increases by $1.4 million in the budget, jumping from $20,750,499 to $22,181,178.

The budget calls for slight increases in spending in other areas, including spending for programs for students with disabilities.