Mount Sinai gets full-day kindergarten

Mount Sinai gets full-day kindergarten

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Mike Riggio, center, speaks to his new fellow school board trustees following Tuesday’s election. Photo by Erika Karp

Full-day kindergarten is officially coming to the Mount Sinai Union Free School District, as residents approved a $56.7 million budget for the 2015-16 school year.

Under the spending plan, the district will expand its current half-day kindergarten program to full — a move backed by many parents as well as the teachers’ union. The budget also maintains class sizes, offerings and extracurricular activities, and brings the Columbia University’s Teachers College Writing Project — which provides writing curriculum and professional development for teachers — to grades kindergarten through fifth.

The budget passed with 1,241 yes votes to 316 votes against.

Superintendent Gordon Brosdal, who joined the district last summer, called the support “outstanding,” and expressed satisfaction that Mount Sinai would no longer be one of the few districts on Long Island left without full day kindergarten.

“To have that margin means to me the community supported the budget,” he said on Tuesday after the vote.
A resident with an average assessed home value of $3,500 will see an annual tax increase of $156.

Throughout the past few months, school board trustees and officials have urged residents to show up and vote. The district has had a relatively low voter turnout over the years, and Brosdal previously stated that elected officials do take notice. Compared to last year, 40 more residents cast a ballot in the budget vote.

“I think, to a degree, voters did hear our plea and came out,” Trustee Ed Law said.

The budget wasn’t the only item residents voted on. They also approved a proposition for library services at either the Comsewogue Public Library or Port Jefferson Free Library, and re-elected incumbent board trustee, Lynn Capobianco, to a second term, and newcomer Mike Riggio with 678 votes and 993 votes, respectively.

Candidates John DeBlasio and Joanne Rentz missed election.

Despite his loss on Tuesday, DeBlasio, a 54-year-old attorney, said he was happy the budget passed. Rentz, a 51-year-old brand manager, was not immediately available for comment on Wednesday. In a Facebook post Tuesday night, she thanked her supporters and said she hopes for great things in Mount Sinai.

Riggio, a 42-year-old retired New York City Police Department commander in the department’s counterterrorism unit, touted his security background and budgeting experience during his campaign. He said on Tuesday evening that he wanted to thank everyone who voted and that win or lose, the experience was “cool.”

“I think people like how I was honest,” he said.

Capobianco, a 65-year-old retired Mount Sinai school librarian, said she was grateful for the community’s support and excitement about full-kindergarten, now a reality.

“I am thrilled that our program is now a full k-12 program,” she said. “… It has been a long time coming.