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Board of Education candidates

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Kings Park Superintendent Timothy Eagen. File Photo.

The Kings Park Central School district $92 million budget for the 2018-19 school year got the stamp of approval from voters, 1,189 votes to 550 votes. The budget contains a 4.09 percent increase, or approximately $3.6 million more than the current year. It willincrease the tax levy on district homeowners by 2.73 percent.

“This community is very supportive of education and the job that we’ve done here in Kings Park,” Superintendent Timothy Eagen said. “It’s a very supportive budget, and we have some strategic adds and supports in the budget,” “I’m just really happy that we can go forward with the spending plan that the board of education and I have carefully developed over the last couple of months.”

Kings Park budget by the numbers

$92M budget:  1,189 Yes votes to 550 No votes

Board of Education
Kevin Johnston: 1,383 votes
Diane Nally: 1,281 votes
Darryl Valinchus: 530 votes

The adopted budget features plans to increase security measures. These include $100,000 dedicated to the creation of security vestibules in the main entryways of all Kings Park school buildings. It provides funding for additional security cameras and the school administrators plan on having the teachers download an app to their phones called Rave Panic Button, which will enable them to have a direct line to police, fire and emergency medical service at the push of a button.

Eagen said that the new budget maintains all current curriculum, classes, clubs and activities while adding new courses. There will be funding for a new AP Capstone Research program, an exploratory course where students learn to do research in any number of fields and synthesize that research into research papers. Other new courses include an American Sign Language elective for eighth-graders, new math programs, robotics, computer programming and coding.

Kings Park board of education

Kings Park board of education incumbents Kevin Johnston, receiving 1,383 votes, and current Vice President Diane Nally, receiving 1,281 votes, were re-elected to their seats. Challenger Darryl Valinchus fell short with 530 votes in Tuesday’s election.

“This is a $92 million budget we’re talking about and very few people show up for the school board meetings.”

Kevin Johnston

Johnston said the board of education race remained civil throughout the process and hoped he would be able to reach out to Valinchus to tap into his knowledge of security procedures to aid the district.

Valinchus is a 15-year Kings Park resident and is a retired sergeant of the New York Police Department’s intelligence bureau. He currently owns a business as an expert witness providing services to law enforcement agencies and prosecutors’ offices.

Johnston also expressed some disappointment regarding the lack of turnout at the board of education meetings.

“We would like to have more input from people in the community,” he said Tuesday night as polls closed. “This is a $92 million budget we’re talking about and very few people show up for the school board meetings. I think over the last few years with Diane [Nally], we’ve accomplished a great deal providing for the students in Kings Park but we still have a ways to go.”

Pam DeFord, Kings Park’s board of education president wanted to express her gratitude.

“I look forward to the continued work that the board has started and to continue to do [what’s] in the best interest of our students and community,” DeFord said. “Kings Park is in a great place, and we’ll continue to show our Kings Park pride.”

Smithtown school district's administrative Joseph M. Barton building on New York Avenue. Photo by Kyle Barr

Across the Town of Smithtown, voters headed to the polls May 15 to show their overwhelming approval of their school district’s 2018-19 budgets. Many of the districts are planning to use funds to increase their security measures in schools or make critical infrastructure and building repairs.

Yet, threat of hazardous weather and early evening storms made for a light voter turnout, with fewer ballots being cast than in previous years. This disappointed school officials, who rely on their taxpayers’ votes for critical feedback and as a measurement of community involvement.

Proposed 2018-19 budget

Smithtown voters approved Smithtown Central School District’s $244.9 million budget for the 2018-19 school year by 1,873 votes to 800 votes Tuesday night. The budget represents a 2.3 percent increase, or additional $5.5 million more than the current year.


Smithtown budget results

$244.9M budget: 1,873 Yes votes to 800 No votes
Proposition 2: 2,090 Yes votes to 583 No votes

Board of Education
Seat of Christopher Alcure
Mandi Kowalik: 1,618 votes
Christopher Alcure: 935 votes

Seat of Jeremy Thode
Jeremy Thode: 1,790 votes

The school district’s security will receive a funding increase under the approved budget. The planned security upgrades include vestibules in all school entrances that will be constructed over the summer as well as full-time, unarmed security guards for all elementary schools.

“Full-time security guards began on May 1 in all district elementary schools and will continue as part of the budget moving forward,” said James Grossane, district superintendent.

 

In addition, the district is looking to add an additional school psychologist, one
social worker and a guidance counselor to its staffing to address students’ mental health and well-being.

The district’s spending plan maintains all current programs while transitioning to universal elementary school start and end times from 9:20 a.m. to 3:25 p.m. It also allows the district to offer new elective courses at the high school including adding Advanced Placement Capstone Research in addition to the existing AP Capstone program.

The approved budget will impose a 2.95 percent tax levy increase, which is within the district’s state tax levy cap.

Proposition 2

Residents passed Proposition 2 by 2,090 votes to 583 votes. The measure will allow Smithtown school officials to use the district’s capital reserve funds to complete a number of repairs and renovations. The project list includes repairs to the tennis courts at Smithtown High School East and West, window
replacement in the Accompsett Middle School and roof and skylight repairs at the Smithtown Elementary School.

Smithtown board of education

There will be a new face at the table of Smithtown’s board of education come July. Newcomer Mandi Kowalik, receiving 1,618 votes, managed to unseat incumbent trustee Christopher Alcure, who received 935 votes in Tuesday’s race.

“I am thrilled and honored to have been elected to represent the Smithtown Central School District as Board of Education trustee,” she said. “I thank every single one of my supporters, I absolutely could not have held this strong without all of you standing behind me.”

Kowalik is a 14-year Smithtown resident and a published children’s author. She worked as a school teacher for nursery school through sixth grade for 13 years before leaving to raise her three children. Kowalik has one son starting kindergarten this September with two younger daughters she plans to
enroll in the district.

“I am thrilled and honored to have been elected to represent the Smithtown Central School District as Board of Education trustee.”
– Mandi Kowalik

Kowalik said during her campaign for the board seat that she wants to focus on security as well as the mental and physical well-being of students.

“The security of our students and staff are the most important issue that we are
currently facing,” she said. “I am prepared to do whatever it takes to keep our school safe.”

Kowalik said she believes students need time to socialize without adults actively interacting and closely monitoring them. While she said the district has explored this at some levels, she would like to continue to explore further avenues for it.

“I have truly been enjoying all of the meaningful dialogue, and I hope that people will continue to feel comfortable approaching me,” Kowalik said. “Let’s keep engaging in these important conversations, and together we will make a difference.”

Current board President Jeremy Thode ran unopposed for his third term as trustee and was re-elected with 1,790 votes.

Both Kowalik and Thode will serve three-year terms through the 2020-21 school year.

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Three candidates vie for two open trustee seats on board of education May 15

Kings Park Superintendent Timothy Eagen. File Photo.

The Kings Park Central School district is asking residents to vote on a proposed $92 million budget that looks to include new course offerings and security projects.

The Kings Park school board of education has put forth a proposed budget to the tune of $92,168,700, which represents a 4.09 percent increase, or approximately $3.6 million more than the current year.

The tax levy, which is the amount of money a district needs to raise through property taxes to balance its budget, shows an increase of 2.73 percent from last year, which is below the New York State mandated tax levy cap.

“We were pretty strategic in the adds for next year’s budget,” Superintendent Timothy Eagen said. “I think this year’s budget has some real positive inclusions in it.”

The proposed budget features plans for increased security measures. These include $100,000 dedicated to the creation of security vestibules in the main entryways of all Kings Park school buildings.

I think this year’s budget has some real positive inclusions in it.”
– Timothy Eagan

“What a security vestibule would do is you would come in the first door, and you’d be in a vestibule, but you wouldn’t get clearance or get buzzed into the building until security scanned your license and confirmed your identity,” Eagen said. “Then you are buzzed through the second door.”

Along with additional security cameras, the school plans on having the teachers download an app to their phones called Rave Panic Button, which will enable them to have a direct line to police, fire and emergency medical at the push of a button.

“The whole idea is to shorten the time that emergency services need to get to the school,” the superintendent said.

Eagen said that the new budget maintains all current curriculum, classes, clubs and activities while adding new courses. If approved, the budget will allow funding for a new AP Capstone Research program, an exploratory course where students learn to do research in any number of fields and synthesize that research into research papers.

Other new courses include an American Sign Language elective for eighth-graders, new math programs, robotics, computer programming and coding.

Kings Park board of education

Kevin Johnston. Photo from Kings Park school district

Three people are currently running for two open seats on the Kings Park board of education. Candidates include incumbent trustee Kevin Johnston, incumbent and current board Vice President Diane Nally and newcomer candidate Darryl Valinchus.

Johnston is a 31-year Kings Park resident. He has spent a year on the board and is looking for a second. He said there is still work to do on school renovations, modernization, decreasing class sizes and school security.

“I would like to see the process through,” Johnston said. “I’m a big proponent of education. I would just like to continue in the direction Kings Park is going with education because year by year the number of students going on to secondary education has improved.”

Johnston is a retired educator from the school district where he spent 35 years as an English teacher and coach. His two children are graduates of Kings Park, and he currently works for State University of New York Oneonta as a supervisor of student-teachers. He believes his experience as teacher helps him as trustee, especially when it comes to aiding students and promoting programs for kids with special needs.

“Some of them still feel vulnerable and isolated, and we need to give them the help and attention they need and deserve,” Johnston said. “They need an advocate, and we want to make everyone feel a part of the school.

Nally is a 58-year resident of Kings Park, and she has had three children graduate from the school district. She has been on the school board for the past six years and she is looking to run for another term.

 

Diane Nally. File photo

“My three children are educators, my husband is an educator, so I believe education is really important to me and my family,” she said. “I believe it is a responsibility of all citizens to educate our children. That’s why I feel the job I am doing on the board is really important.”

Nally retired as director of religious education at St. Joseph’s School of Religion program in 2016, and now she spends most of her time baby-sitting her three grandchildren. She said two of the most important things she wants to tackle as member of the board are drug issues and the mental health of students, and that she wants to involve the community in that process.

“There’s been a lot of concern over emotional issues facing some of our children,” she said. “I think that is something that needs to be addressed.”

Valinchus is a 15-year Kings Park resident and is a retired sergeant of the New York Police Department’s intelligence bureau. He currently owns a business as an expert witness providing services to law enforcement agencies and prosecutors’ offices. He has also spent 10 years on the Kings Park Youth Athletic Association’s board. He said he is running to provide his expertise on
security to the district.

Darryl Valinchus. Photo from Kings Park school district

“I think my background in law enforcement will help us with one of the most pressing things right now … securing our students and our schools,” he said. “I feel that diversifying the backgrounds on the school board will help us come [up] with better solutions and better decisions.”

Valinchus said he doesn’t want to wait for the state to give funds before they add extra security to the school.

“There’s things we can do to secure our buildings, without offending people, without making it look like smoke and mirrors, without sending our security too far,” Valinchus said.

Valinchus has had two sons who graduated from the district, one in 2014 and the other in 2017.

Beyond security, Valinchus said he wishes to provide a financially responsible budget that addresses the community’s concerns.

“Education is a priority,” he said. “We need to make sure our students are prepared for college.”

The budget and board of education vote will take place May 15 from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. at the Kings Park High School rear gymnasium.