East Williston Board of Education President Mark Kamberg defeated challenger Denise Tercynski for a three-year term as school district residents also voted in the $68.9 million budget for the upcoming school year.
Residents also voted to approve a proposition establishing a capital reserve fund of $7 million over ten years.
The $68,889,276 budget for the 2023-2024 school year, a 3.88% increase in spending from the current budget, passed with 1,026 of 1,554 total votes, or 66.02%.
Kamberg, an Albertson resident, received 54.67% of the ballots cast with 907 votes; Tercynski received 752 of the 1,659 total votes.
Kamberg has been a trustee for 15 years, serving as board president for 13 of them. Tercynski, a Mineola resident, served on The Wheatley School and Willets Road School’s PTO executive board.
Tercnyski thanked voters for their support while addressing an issue she said inserted the “nationally divisive political atmosphere” into the district.
“After reading one of the opinion pieces in The Island 360, recent events started to make sense to me. An email was distributed to community members, stating that I was ‘fueling division in our community’ and have brought a national campaign against school districts to East Williston. It went on to say that I am ‘capitalizing on the propaganda of this campaign to provoke outrage and mistrust.,” Tercynski posted to Facebook early Tuesday morning. “Several inciting and divisive articles were attached in an attempt to prove these mischaracterizations of me. The national campaign referred to is insulting to the parents and residents in our district, who simply wanted their voices heard. I am disappointed that the nationally divisive political atmosphere had been inserted into our community.”
Tercynski made the post to a private Facebook group for her campaign, which she said was first made private due to it being a “work in progress” before realizing private Facebook groups cannot be made public after creation.
“These characterizations have no merit. Being accused of possessing radical political beliefs I don’t hold and having despicable traits assigned to me is hurtful and, frankly, dangerous,” Tercynski added.
Recent Board of Education meetings have had discussions on diversity, equity and inclusion programs and recent attempts by Project Veritas, a right-wing group known for deceptively edited exposé videos with ties to prominent conservative and Republican groups nationally, to make its presence felt in some of Nassau County’s public school districts.
The budget’s tax levy increase is 1.94%, which falls below the state-mandated tax cap.
The district is receiving $7.1 million in state aid, a 33.86% increase from the current year’s state aid of $5.3 million.
Based on district numbers from the 2022-2023 school year, East Williston is spending $43,109.68 per pupil according to the proposed budget.
Budget highlights include boys modified volleyball as a new program, an additional social worker, universal pre-kindergarten at North Side Elementary School and redesigns of The Wheatley School’s TV studio and robotics training space, among other things.
East Williston’s ballot proposition passed with 1,123 out of 1,545 total votes, or 72.59%. The proposition allows the district to establish a capital reserved fund not to exceed $7 million, funded over a maximum of ten years.
The reserve fund would include but is not limited to eventual roofing replacements, improvements to Willets’ fields and Wheatley’s wood shop and cafeteria.