Manhasset residents to vote on ed board seat and $93.8M budget proposal

Manhasset residents to vote on ed board seat and $93.8M budget proposal
Manhasset school district Superintendent Charles Cardillo (left) and School Board President Regina Rule

Voters in Manhasset will head to the polls next Tuesday to decide the fate of a re-election bid for Manhasset School Board member Patricia Aitken and to approve a proposed $93.8 million 2017-18 budget.

Aitken, who has served for 12 years on the Manhasset Board of Education, is seeking a fifth 3-year term. Her candidacy is unopposed.

Voting will take place on May 16 from 6:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. in the Manhasset High School gymnasium.

“This is about forming future young adults and future contributing citizens,” she said last month.

Before she joined the Board of Education in 2005, Aitken spent time on the district’s advisory committee for finance, incorporating skills she developed in corporate banking and financial restructuring, she said.

“The district was in a very different place at the time,” she said. “I started to become more involved when there were financial issues and concerns about spending.”

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

“We didn’t have bylaws when I first came onto the board,” she said. “We are a governance board that oversees policy.”

She said challenges faced by the board in upcoming years include the state mandated tax cap, which “doesn’t allow a lot of wiggle room.”

Another issue for the district is that “young adults today face a lot of pressure academically,” Aitken said. ‘We need to make sure we’re educating students and trying to relieve those pressures.”

“It’s still a school but part of a tight-knit community in Manhasset,” she added. “Maintaining that characteristic is important while raising kids and turning them into young adults.”

She said the choice to run for re-election was influenced by the impending retirement of Superintendent Charles Cardillo and the transition to incoming Superintendent Vincent Butera, who will begin his tenure on July 10.

The proposed budget calls for a 2.02 percent property tax rise, the maximum allowable under the state tax levy cap.

It projects a 2.05 percent increase in spending for 2017-18, which 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.

Rosemary Johnson, the Manhasset schools deputy superintendent for business and finance, predicted in April that the public will approve the budget.

“It maintains and expands opportunities for students, within the allowable tax cap,” she said.

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