Roslyn to vote on re-election bids for ed board prez and VP

Roslyn to vote on re-election bids for ed board prez and VP
(From l to r) Roslyn school Superintendent Allison Brown, School Board President Meryl Waxman Ben-Levy and School Board Vice President Clifford Saffron.

Voters in Roslyn will head to the polls next Tuesday to decide the fates of re-election bids by Roslyn school board President Meryl Waxman Ben-Levy and Vice President Clifford Saffron and a proposed $107.1 million 2017-18 budget.

Ben-Levy and Saffron, who have both served for 12 years on the Roslyn Board of Education, are seeking a fifth three-year term. Their candidacies are unopposed.

Voting will take place on May 16 from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. at Roslyn High School.

Both candidates initially sought their seats after a multimillion-dollar financial scandal rocked the Roslyn school district in 2004.

“On one of my early campaigns I met Meryl,” Saffron said, noting that Ben-Levy joined the board only months after he did.

“Almost since day one we shared a singular view of what had transpired and what needed to be done to get Roslyn back on track,” he said.

“We have unfinished work and I made a promise to the community and a pledge to myself that I would do all I could as a volunteer to put Roslyn in a healthy educational and physical posture,” Ben-Levy said. “I made that promise many years ago and I want to see it through.”

Since then, the district has made strides in technology, infrastructure and curriculum offerings, Ben-Levy said.

Among the additions to the curriculum, Ben-Levy cites advanced placement courses in the high school as well as  science, technology, engineering and math (or STEM) offerings throughout the district.

Other achievements listed by Saffron include the adding of student clubs, the effort to give students iPads and the equipping of teachers with technology to support instruction.

Asked what she hopes to accomplish if she is re-elected, Ben-Levy said, “Clearly the capital plan,” referring to a $41.3 million infrastructure improvement effort that won voter approval in 2014.

“That’s unfinished business that we need to see through,” she added. “It’s very important we take good care of facilities and buildings and grounds so they never fall into the kind of disrepair we found them in when I started board service years ago.”

Looking ahead, Saffron said, “We’ll continue to challenge the administration to come up with ways to challenge our students to make sure our curriculum fits where we are as a world right now, with a focus on initiatives around technology, data and analytics.”

“Our community demands the highest education for its children and it supports us to achieve that,” he added.

The proposed 2017-18 budget calls for a 0.43 percent property tax increase to help fund an increase in spending of 1.98 percent over last year.

The 0.43 percent property tax increase is well below the 1.21 percent increase in revenue allowed under the state’s tax cap law.

“Dollar for dollar, let’s not save it; let’s give it back to the taxpayers,” said Joseph Dragone, the assistant superintendent for business and administration, at a Board of Education meeting in April.

The proposed budget allows for new early development classes, a fifth-grade robotics class, a class that incorporates virtual reality headsets, and a physical education class that incorporates wristbands to monitor students’ heart rates.

It would also add computer coding courses for grades six through 12, classes incorporating virtual reality, app creation classes, engineering classes and a high school robotics club, among other curriculum improvements.

“We think it’s a terrific budget and it’s fair,” district Superintendent Allison Brown said last Thursday. “We’re really excited about it.”

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