Board of Ed Incumbents re-elected and the Budget passes


Last month, on May 17, the Port Washington School District (PWUFSD) held their annual budget vote.  This year’s ballot included the vote on increasing the budget, as well as elections for the Board of Education.  Finally, voters had to weigh in on a second proposition in addition to the budget, which would create a capital reserve fund for a facilities improvement program.  

The main focus of the  day was the school budget.  Voters that chose to increase the budget would increase the budget by $7. 5 million, to an all-time high of nearly $175 million.  This 4.52 percent increase in the budget would support the district while inflation continues to run rampant, but also allows our schools to institute new programs and hire new staff.  Superintendent Dr.  Michael Hynes outlined many of the planned usages for the new budget prior to the vote.  The increase in available money would allow PWUFSD to expand the Integrated Co-Teaching program in elementary schools, and add a full time equivalency speech teacher at Daly Elementary.  Passing the new budget also would permit the district to hire more IT staff as well as additional ENL (English as a New Language) teachers at Weber Middle School.  

With an increase in the budget, the district also planned to expand our athletic staff.  Hynes explained that coaches for boys and girls track at the middle school would be provided, as well as a new JV football assistant coach.  

“I think having track coaches at Weber and a winter track program will further promote the winning culture we currently have at Schreiber and do wonders for our team,” said junior John Southard, a member of Schreiber’s Nassau County champion track team. 

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the increased budget will provide for many structural changes to the schools in our district.  The new funding will allow several construction projects to occur, including roof repairs at several elementary schools, a refurbishment of the track at Seeber Field, masonry work at Daly, and facility renovations and health and safety projects across the district.  

While these projects seem to be incredibly helpful on the surface, there are concerns with the timeframe on the construction from students.  The current construction at Schreiber has been extremely prolonged, and it seems that the front of the building will not be opened before the end of the 2021-2022 school year. 

“This year’s construction on our school has taken a really long time.  I don’t know how the district would be able to efficiently manage multiple projects at the same time if it is taking this long to finish just one,” said junior Owen Schindler. 

In addition to the key changes that were proposed with a budget increase, various continuities will remain from the old budget.  The total breakdown of the budget was publicized before voting: employee benefits would account for 25%, transfers for 1%, debt service for 5%, transportation for 5%, supplies for 1%, textbooks and equipment for 1%, salaries for 50%, BOCES for 3%, and contractual for 9%. 

With all of these potential improvements to the school district, voters across Port Washington supported an increased budget.  The overall tally from the budget vote was 2,369 residents in favor of increasing the budget, and 762 against it, according to Newsday.  

“The Board of Education is proud to have put forward a budget that was overwhelmingly supported by the community that reflected the district’s Vision, Mission and Portrait of a Graduate.  The Board is also excited that the community overwhelmingly supported the establishment of a capital reserve fund for facilities improvement,” said Board of Education President Emily Beys.

A proposition known as “Proposition 2” was also passed, which will sanction the creation of a reserve fund that will be used to improve facilities throughout the district.  The tally for this vote was 2,150 residents in favor of the proposition, and 573 against it, according to Newsday.  PWUFSD officials stated that the new reserve fund will act as a savings account at no cost to taxpayers throughout Port Washington.

The Board of Education elections for the upcoming school year were also held, with President Emily Beys and Trustee Deborah Brooks running for re-election against the challenger, Michael Tretola.  Beys first joined the Board of Education when she was elected in 2016, and she was then re-elected in 2019.  Beys had had a sizable amount of experience in the Port Washington School District, as she was the president of the Schreiber Home-School Association, Weber Home-School Association, and Parents Council.  Last year, the Board of Education voted her to serve as its president, by a unanimous vote.

Brooks was elected to the Board of Education in 2019, and prior to her election, she had experience with child education.  Over the past school year, Brooks worked to ensure that the PWUFSD attained the proper state aid funds that would be used to combat the COVID pandemic.  Some of Brooks’ plans that she proposed during her campaign were to upgrade buildings throughout the district, make students’ education the number one focus, and improve the college application process so students that are first-generation will have more equitable opportunities. 

Tretola has been living in Port Washington for over 20 years, and during his campaign, he advocated for more inclusion in schools between students, such as book clubs.  Tretola is also a Port Washington parent and believed that his experience in finance could help the district in a very positive manner. 

All across Port Washington, signs and posters were put up by the candidates as a form of campaigning, hoping to gather the attention and support of Port Washington residents who would come to the polls and cast their votes.  The candidates also had the opportunity to speak at a forum which was hosted by the League of Women Voters Port Washington-Manhasset.  Much of the conversation was centered around how the district would work to adapt and overcome the COVID pandemic and how to re-engage students who may have lost motivation due to the pandemic’s negative effects.

The Board of Education voting took place simultaneously with the budget, and Beys (1,970 votes) and Brooks (1,758) defeated Tretola, who received 1,325 votes, in what was a rather close race.  Being elected to the Board of Education comes with a tremendous amount of responsibility, and members are required to follow the responsibilities laid out by the New York State School Boards Association.  Some of the requirements include hiring a superintendent, creating new policies, holding public meetings, establishing a position on collective bargaining, and more. 

“The Board of Education plays a very important role in the decision making process of our community and school district, and I hope for another successful year,” said junior Jack McNaughton.

As the 2021-2022 school year comes to a close, the Port Washington residents can feel comfort knowing that there has been a vote to establish the budget and elect representatives to the Board of Education.  Like any school year, the Board of Education will have to work tirelessly amongst each other and the Port Washington community to ensure the well-being and safety of the Port Washington School District.