"Education is what remains when one has forgotten what one has learned in school."

- Albert Eienstein


2017 North Shore Schools Board of Education Trustees Election 

Budget Vote and Election of Trustee Details

Date: Tuesday, 05.16.17
Time: 7am-10pm
Location: North Shore High School Gym

who or What are we voting For?

Short Answer:

  1. Two Trustee (Board Member) Positions. Candidates are Cheryl Brown, Joanna Commander (current trustee running for re-election) and Richard Galati. 
  2. Proposition 1 - The 2017-2018 School Budget
  3. Proposition 2 - Transportation Distance Limits

(You may have gotten one of these recently that highlights the two propositions.)

Here is a link to information about the candidates directly from North Shore Schools. 

Below is a summary of recent articles from local publications about the candidates. If you know of one that is not represented here, let us know

Sorry (not sorry)...that was a "long" short answer. 

Long Answer:

  1. Two Trustee Positions: Trustees are locally elected, public school advocates, and all around heroes. These representatives manage the important school district tasks. Chief among these tasks is electing the Superintendent, but it doesn’t stop there. (See below question re: school board functions for the deets.)
  2. 2017-2018 School Budget: This is an important one. As you know, Joe Taxpayer is responsible for footing the bill to run our schools. As such, we all get a say in what the proposed budget is - all with a vote.
  3. Proposition 2 Transportation Distance Limits: Some propositions are sexy, this one is not. Don’t be thrown by the fancy language - this sounds way more complicated than it is. The BOE is asking permission to modify its public school transportation eligibility, (i.e. whether or not a kid is eligible to hitch a ride on the big yellow school bus) for Grades 7 + 8 from the existing 1.5 mile limit to 1 mile for the next school year (Grade 6 already has a 1 mile limit). This modification would be at no additional cost to the District, but they must seek community approval before making any change.

Who can vote?

Short Answer:

18+ U.S. Citizen who lives in the North Shore School District

Long Answer:

Besides being a legal adult and a U.S. resident, you also need to be a resident for 30+ days prior to the voting date. So if you’re just DYING to vote in the North Shore School Board election, and you DON’T live in the district...the ship has sailed and you are (sadly) SOL until next year. But hey, the Sea Cliff real estate market is overflowing with affordable, adorable, move-in ready homes just waiting for you to sign on the dotted line. LOL - JK.

What does the School Board do anyway?

Short Answer:

The School Board runs the public school system in their school district. They are not responsible for spell checking your tweets, so stop asking them already!

Long Answer:

The School Board’s job is never done. Besides ensuring that students in their district receive top education for tax dollars spent, these folks have a steaming pile of education initiatives and business issues on their plate, including:

  • The hiring of a Superintendent (we just got a new one!
  • Creating the curriculum and developing school policies
  • Maintaining, improving or fixing facilities (think things like fixing roofs, updating playground equipment, removing asbestos, etc.)
  • Adopting collective bargaining agreements (hello teacher unions)
  • Managing the budget that makes all these things possible (see more about this below).

And as if this wasn’t enough responsibility, these folks manage these tasks while maintaining a level of accessibility and allowance for public input that sent Richard Simmons into an early retirement.


Who are these people, do I pay their salaries, and how long do they get to hold this position?

Short Answer:

The School Board is comprised of seven elected members, all volunteers, who serve 3-year terms.

Long Answer:

The current board consists of the following members:

  • President: Antoinette Labbate
  • Vice President: Sara Jones
  • Trustee: Dr. Herman Berliner
  • Trustee: Dave Ludmar
  • Trustee: Marianne M. Russo
  • *Trustee: Joanna Commander
  • *Trustee: Lara Gonzalez

*Denotes position up for (re)election.

These people donate countless hours of time and mental energy to the well-being of the schools they serve. Yep that’s right, you pay zero dollars for these services. And when they sign up it’s for a three-year stint. Trustee elections rotate every two years so that no board is fully and completely replaced - you know, continuity and all that.

Um - Where is the Superintendent in all that?

Short Answer:

The Superintendent is part of the central administration, not to be confused with the School Board. If the school district is a Fortune 500 company, the Superintendent is the CEO and the School Board is the board of directors.

Long Answer:

The Central Administration is in charge of the day to day operations of the school district. The school board sets policies, goals and objectives for the district, and then holds the Superintendent to implementing them. The Central Administration is made up of the following peeps:

  • Superintendent of Schools: Dr. Edward Melnick (until July when he is replaced by Dr. Peter Giarrizzo)
  • Assistant Superintendent for Instruction: Robert Chlebicki
  • Assistant Superintendent for Business: Olivia Buatsi
  • Facilities & Operations Manager: John Hall
  • Transportation Supervisor: Michele Hall
  • Director of Public Relations/Senior Illustrator: Shelly Newman

I have Hamilton tickets May 16th, can I still vote?

Short answer:

Not sure if “Hamilton Tickets” falls under NY State’s qualifications to vote by absentee ballot, but in general absentee ballots do exist for those who qualify.

Long answer:

First, you need to get an absentee ballot application form. You can either grab it here, or get one in person or by mail from the office of the District Clerk at 112 Franklin Avenue in Sea Cliff. The application must be received by the District Clerk by May 9 (at least seven days before election day) if the absentee ballot is to be mailed to the voter, or by May 15 (1 day before election day) if the ballot is to be picked up in person.

Completed absentee ballots must be delivered to the Office of the District Clerk no later than 5 PM on May 16 if you want your vote to count - which we're assuming you do!

Do I need to army crawl into the Superintendent’s office late night to peep the 2017-2018 budget?

Short Answer:

No. You don’t need to harken back to the good ole days of your rabble rousing youthful mischief. Just check on the proposed budget here. You’re an adult now.

Long Answer:

If you can’t tell, the North Shore School District does a stand up job providing the community with information on its website. Seriously, these people like informing you guys about as much as we do - and that’s saying something. So if you want budget info - they’re gonna give it to you. For example check out the video of Dr. Melnick presenting the initial budget here, and summary of the budget proposal here, estimated 2017-2018 revenues here, and the Five Year Budget Planning Document here

What is covered in the budget?

Short answer:

What’s not covered in the budget, amirite?

Long answer:

No, seriously - what’s not covered in the budget is probably an easier question to answer. In its most simple definition, the painfully detailed school budget explains and justifies spending for any and allllll the things that keep the school running. That can include things as simple as utilities and as complicated as curriculum, staff development and counseling services.

How does the budget affect me? 

Short Answer:

If you own property in Sea Cliff, you are paying school taxes to the North Shore school district. Each year, the School Board will put forward a Budget Proposal, or plan to spend your dough. If passed, the budget is funded through a tax levy, or the revenue that’s raised from all the property owners in the district. Budget increases are paid through increased tax levies.

Long Answer:

“Taxes?! Boo! None for me, thanks. I’ll just vote no on this here budget.”  - said a Sea Cliff resident who either forgot home values are linked to the quality of schools, or simply doesn't care. Sorry Super Saver Sea Cliffer, we like low taxes and maximum benefits too, but voting no on the budget won't lower your taxes. If community voters fail to pass a budget twice, the district by law will be forced to adopt a budget with the same or lower tax levy as the prior year - essentially a zero percent increase. You will be paying the same taxes at a minimum, but if that last approved budget was lower than what the BOE proposed for the current year, expect some budget cuts.

Good news for people who want to invest in their schools, but also still be able to afford nice things like food, clothes, and shelter - there is a tax levy limit. For school districts, the tax levy limit is the highest allowable tax levy that a school district can propose as part of its annual budget. Only a simple majority of voters (50% + 1) is required for budget passage. Any proposed tax levy amount above that limit requires budget approval by a supermajority (60 percent or more) of voters.

Does the budget hearing allow for public comment?

Short Answer:

Yes, but.....

Long Answer:

..... the budget review and public comments for the 2017-2018 budget took place 3/6/17.

PSST: The Board of Education has scheduled meetings with comments from the Public as a regular discussion item. Take a look at their calendar!

I still have a question for the proposed budget - now what?

Short Answer:

Did you read the last question?

Long Answer:

Be sure to attend a Board of Education meeting and make use of the forum they provide there for questions. Can’t make it? Reach out to your BOE directly! They make it super easy - email them directly by clicking on their pics on their homepage.

I don’t have kids in the school system, give me one good reason I should care about this vote?

Short Answer:

To paraphrase Lady Gaga...you've got a hundred million reasons to walk away, but baby, you just need one good one to vote: because it’s your money they are spending.

Long Answer:

You only asked for one good reason. We gave it to you. Move on. No seriously, why are you still reading this. Stop. Now.

Where can I read more about who’s who and what’s when in the North Shore School District?

Short Answer:

Are you saying we haven’t covered your question yet? We don’t believe that’s true.

Long Answer:

Okay fine. If we really haven’t answered your question, you can find gads of info about board members, employees, volunteers and scheduled events (24 pages worth!) in the district’s 2016-17 Calendar and Directory. Check it out and get mad informed. Also, feel free to poke around the North Shore School District website. It’s a rabbit hole of info. If you like knowing stuff, you can get lost for hours clicking around these pages.

If you still have questions, hit us up here. We have a potentially concerning obsession with chasing down info and will jump at the chance to show off our skillz.