It’s school budget decision time again
BAY SHORE—On Tuesday, May 21, Long Island residents will decide on school budgets as well as school board trustees. In Bay Shore, there are three candidates running for one open three-year seat that is currently occupied by Andrew A. Arcuri, who is seeking another term. The polls will be open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. in the lobby of the high school gymnasium. The high school is located at 155 Third Avenue in Bay Shore. There will be a Meet the Candidates night and Budget Hearing on Monday, May 13 at 7:30 p.m. in the high school’s Little Theater.
The proposed budget for the 2019-2020 school year is $159,398,062 and sits within the state cap. It represents an increase of 2.43 percent, and for an average assessed home taxes are expected to increase by $188 a year.
Andrew A. Arcuri
Andrew Arcuri has been on the Bay Shore School Board for the past 15 years. He said he has faced many challenges along the way and has seen many successes. He’d like to keep that momentum going with another term.
The Bay Shore native is an attorney who is married and the father of four. He said his desire to serve is rooted in commitment. “I’ve been a good advocate for the school district. And that includes balancing between [the students] and the taxpayer. I’ve been able to find a happy medium.”
Arcuri reflected on the financial crisis that took place several years ago, when the cap had to be pierced and there were threats of a possible layoff of teachers and administrators. It was he who was chosen to speak with the union and their members, and appeal to them to take a zero percent pay increase, promising to never again pierce the cap and guaranteeing no layoffs.
“I made that presentation and they agreed to a zero percent freeze, and I kept my word. I was proud of that. We have great teachers, programs and extracurricular activities here in Bay Shore, and that equals great kids.” He noted that the diverse community has provided the students with a cross-section of life. “When the students leave Bay Shore, they are ready to face the world.”
One of the aspects of the district Arcuri is particularly proud of is how technology has been introduced in the classroom. The district is rolling out a laptop program that will eventually provide computers to every student. He said Bay Shore is a place that is “flourishing, challenging, and creating good citizens who are ready for life.”
Arcuri said his favorite time of year is graduation. “It’s when you get to see the fruits of our labor, and that recharges our battery,” he noted. “It makes it all worthwhile.”
Nicholas “Nic” Scott
Nic Scott is a 15-year resident of Bay Shore. He and his wife have two children in the district, which he considers to be “dynamic.” However, there’s always room for improvement.
“Bay Shore has a lot of programs that I would like to see expand to include a younger generation of students,” he said, noting that the district’s Robotics program and E-Sports, which involves competitive video gaming, would be beneficial. “It’s more than just playing a game, it’s team building,” he said. “Bay Shore is the first in the state to put an [E-Sports] competitive team together.”
An attorney who currently teaches in a Long Island public school, Scott is retired from the U.S. Army JAG Corps after 22 years. He served in Iraq, Afghanistan and more recently at the Pentagon. He said he chose to leave the Army and teach because “the most important thing for me is spending time with my family.” He noted regarding his children, age 12 and 14, “I’m committed to them now.”
The candidate said if elected, he would keep both the students and the taxpayer in mind. He’d work to keep the tax base near zero while maintaining the ability for program growth. He said another reason for running is because the current incumbent has been in the position for 15 years.
“I think it’s time for a change,” he said. “Bay Shore has an opportunity to make a choice. I’ve served our country and I’d like to continue that level of service [in our school district].”
Falconer is a 2003 graduate of Bay Shore High School. He is currently employed at Columbia University in Manhattan, where he works in biomedical informatics as a statistician. He explained his work involves collecting information on the trajectory of patients in treatment, which could determine the care that’s received. “It’s understanding what works and what doesn’t work for the patient,” he remarked.
The candidate noted that after attending school board meetings for three years, he decided that being a part of it would be a perfect fit. “All decisions made by the board are data driven,” he said. “I have the background for that. No one [currently] on the board has that background, so I thought it would be useful.”
Some of the issues that concern him now are student-to-teacher ratios, which he noted “seems to be on an upward trend.” He said smaller class sizes are especially important for younger grades, where a little extra TLC could “go a long way” in helping them learn in subsequent years.
School safety is another concern. “Bay Shore is headed in the right direction. I want to make sure we can apply resources to make our students and staff as safe as possible.”
He thinks the tax cap is a good thing. However, he added, “We need to make efficient decisions that result in the best outcome [for students].”
“I love Bay Shore,” Falconer said. “This is the best way I can give back to my community.”
The school district Budget Vote is on Tuesday, May 21.
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