School Budget Passes; Kleinberg, Gurin Elected

HALF HOLLOW HILLS, New York, May 28

As Half Hollow Hills incumbents Frank Grimaldi and James Ptucha opted not to seek re-election, voters had four candidates to choose from as they took to the polls on May 19.

Of those four candidates, Adam Kleinberg (1,488 votes) and Stephanie Gurin (1,476 votes) were elected to the vacant seats. Scott McElhiney (916 votes) and Adrian Montalvo (817 votes) were defeated.

Adam Kleinberg, left, and Stephanie Gurin.
Adam Kleinberg, left, and Stephanie Gurin.

“I’m thrilled that the community is giving me an opportunity to try and help the district,” Kleinberg, a 41-year-old father of two, said. “Obviously there are a lot of expectations for me and I hope to live up to them.”

Kleinberg, an attorney Sokoloff Stern LLP in Carl Place, supports a major push for transparency in the district and long-range planning when evaluating the district’s future budgets. He is also against state standardized testing, an issue that he believes is the biggest currently facing the district.

“I look forward to sitting down with the existing board members and hearing their goals and plans for the upcoming year,” he said.

Gurin is a 47-year-old mother of two sons – one of whom currently attends High School West – who has an extensive history of involvement with the Half Hollow Hills PTA system and has focused on a career in education.

She is also a supporter of increased transparency by the district towards the public – she’d like to see a monthly newsletter published to inform residents of events, important meetings, etc. – and would also like to see the district implement technological innovations in its classrooms. Gurin is also against standardized testing and, in turn, does not agree with linking scores from those tests to teacher evaluations.

Both Kleinberg and Gurin were elected to three-year terms.

Voters also unanimously approved a $238,658,101 budget for the 2015-2016 school year.

With 1,972 in favor and 569 against, the budget brings about a 2.34-percent tax levy increase – which was equal to the district’s tax levy cap.

The $238.6-million budget will be funded, in part, by $195,369,595. Another $28,999,697 in New York State aid is expected – more than $2 million more than the district was allotted for in the previous school year’s budget.

The ’15-’16 budget marks a 1.9-percent year-to-year increase, which officials have said is the lowest year-to-year increase since the ’96-’97 school year.

In building the budget, district officials stressed educational opportunities. Included are plans to: restore elementary clubs; implement fine arts courses such as filmmaking and photography; and revamp the physical education program to include group and outdoor education.

There are also three capital projects included: the replacement of High School East’s chilling and cooling tower, the renovation of High School West’s tennis courts and the replacement of High School West’s auditorium partition doors.

Originally published: Long Islander News: Half Hollow Hills
(Thursday, May 28, 2015;  A5)

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