Two new faces elected to Floral Park-Bellerose Board of Education

Two challengers were elected to the Floral Park-Bellerose School District's Board of Education on Tuesday. (Photo courtesy of Flickr)

Two newcomers were elected to the Floral Park-Bellerose Board of Education on Tuesday.

Winning candidates Jaclyn O’Donohue and Beth Kierez received 1,248 and 1,146 votes, respectively.

O’Donohue defeated Amanda Talty to fill the seat on the board previously held by President Laura Ferone, who is retiring after 14 years on the board, district officials said.  Kierez defeated incumbent Trustee Douglas Madden, who had been on the board since 2017.

Thank you to EVERY ONE of our supporters and team leaders who were right there with us all day!!,” O’Donohue said in a Facebook post. “Could not have done any of this without you and I am so thankful and appreciative of everything!”

“This has been a humbling experience and it has all been well worth it. Thank you so much for those who have been supportive throughout this journey for both Jackie [O’Donohue] and I,” Kierez said on Facebook. “We couldn’t have done it without you. Thank you to our family and friends who have gone the extra mile in one way or another. Thank you to all the candidates who put in the time and effort to be willing to represent our community and our children. And thank you to Mr. Madden for the last 4 years of your service and dedication to our children. In the words of Dr. Seuss, “Oh the places you’ll go” and I sincerely believe together as a community we shall go far.”

O’Donohue, a registered nurse, has been active in several local organizations, including as president of the Wednesday Mother’s Club, Liz’s Day board member and co-leader of her daughter’s Girl Scout troop and son’s Cub Scout den.

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Kierez has spent the last two decades in the educational field, including as the current assistant principal at Benjamin N. Cardozo High School in Bayside, Queens. Kierez has four children and said her goal is “to ensure that every parent and child has an advocate at the table.”

“My love for education and the desire for all children to have their needs met has always been my priority as a teacher, an administrator and more importantly a mother,” Kierez said on Facebook last month. “I truly know for change to happen it has to start with those who seek change for the better good and our children’s education is the better good.”

Voters also passed a $34.2 million budget. The budget received 758 votes in favor, compared with 352 votes against it.

The budget calls for an increase of $1.7 million, or 5.3 percent, from the 2020-21 budget. The tax levy increased by 3.87 percent, which is under the allowed limit.

Expenditures in the budget include establishing a four-day pre-kindergarten program, support for English as a New Language courses, and $475,000 for a new kindergarten-through-sixth-grade reading series that will be implemented in the 2022-23 school year.

A resolution was also passed to establish a $6 million capital reserve fund to pay for school building and grounds upgrades. That resolution received 791 votes in favor, compared with 311 against it.

New Hyde Park-Garden City Park

New Hyde Park-Garden City Park school district residents Binu Jacob and Danielle Fagan won their uncontested election bids after to three incumbent Board of Education trustees announced they were not seeking re-election.

Fagan received 432 votes and Jacob received 368 votes. Jacob and Fagan will fill the spots of Jennifer DeRocchis and David Del Santo, respectively.

Trustee Danielle Messina announced she would also not run for re-election, but received 20 write-in votes. Officials previously said the board would appoint someone to fill Messina’s seat if no one else was elected.

Del Santo, who has also served as the Sewanhaka Board of Education president, spent five terms on the board. DeRocchis, a former Manor Oaks Parent Teacher Association vice president, was first elected to the board in 2015 after unseating Frank Miranda. Messina, an involved parent in the school district, was appointed to the trustee position last year.

Efforts to reach Jacob and Fagan for comment were unavailing.

The public also passed the adopted $42.3 million budget for the 2021-22 school year . The budget received 384 votes in favor, and 265 votes against it.

The budget comes with a tax levy increase of 1.14 percent. The $32,971,547 tax levy will cost the average homeowner $42 more.

It also includes a 0.69 percent decrease in salaries to $20,649,980 and a 0.32 percent increase in benefits to $10,803,115. Administrators expect a decrease in staffing needs based on enrollment projections, and there has been a decrease in staff due to retirements, according to Michael Frank, the school district’s deputy superintendent.

Voters also passed a resolution to authorize the establishment of a capital reserve fund for a maximum of 15 years not to exceed $10 million with 373 votes in favor of it, compared with 240 opposed. Another resolution was passed to increase the current transportation limits from district kindergarten to sixth-grade students from one mile to 1.5 miles. It received 329 votes in favor of increasing the radius, compared with 314 opposed.

Herricks

Herricks Board of Education Trustees Brian Hassan and Nancy Feinstein were both re-elected. 

Feinstein received 888 votes and Hassan received 675, according to the district.

Feinstein, a Roslyn resident, was elected to her fifth three-year term on the board. She has three children who have all attended and graduated from Herricks schools.

Hassan, an Albertson resident, was also elected to his fifth term on the board. He has three children who have graduated from the Herricks schools.

Efforts to reach the incumbents for comment were unavailing.

Voters also passed the $122.9 million budget. The budget received 825 votes in favor of it, compared with 391 votes opposed.

The budget is a $2.33 million, or 1.94 percent, increase from the 2020-21 budget.

The budget called for a 1.42 percent increase in the 2021-22 tax levy from this year, but it remained below the state cap of 2.51 percent.

The initially proposed 1.86 percent levy increase was lowered to 1.42 percent as a result of additional state aid. The district’s average levy increase since the cap’s inception in 2012-13 is 1.66 percent.

The district also passed a proposition to allow the district to spend $1.2 million of capital reserve funds for renovations to the Herricks High School auditorium. The proposition received 888 votes in favor, compared with 301 against it.

“Our Board and Administration worked diligently to develop a budget that continues to support all programs and opportunities for students yet was well below the allowable tax levy cap,” a district statement said. “We appreciate the efforts of and thank everyone in the community who participated in the budget development process and all those who express a continued interest in our schools.”

Sewanhaka

Voters of the Sewanhaka Central High School District passed the $215.7 million budget for the 2021-22 school year. The budget received 2,813 votes in favor, compared with 1,286 votes against it.

The budget is an increase of 3.09 percent, or nearly $6.5 million, from the $209.3 million budget for 2020-21.  The board also adopted a 1.11 percent tax levy increase for the 2021-22 school year, which is below the tax cap.

One of the biggest increases to the budget is a 3.84 percent, or $6 million, increase in additions to programming.

Officials said that some of the programs they are focused on including in the 2021-22 school year include art offerings for seventh- and eighth-graders, English as a New Language courses for seventh-graders to seniors, literacy offerings for struggling readers, math workshops for additional support, and several inclusions for science technology, engineering, art and mathematics programs for middle schoolers.

Officials said they also expect to receive more than $48 million in state aid this coming year, an increase of more than $6 million from the previous year.

The district’s voters also passed a proposition to authorize the district to create a capital reserve fund, with 2,769 votes in favor of doing so, compared with 1,114 opposed.

Sewanhaka’s school board is made up of two representatives from each of the five elementary districts that feed into the high schools.

This article has been updated wth the correct tally of votes in the Floral Park-Bellerose School District election.

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Robert Pelaez

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