The Huntington School District’s long budget development process culminated on Tuesday with residents approving the 2017/18 financial plan and two capital reserve fund propositions. Trustees Jennifer Hebert and Xavier Palacios were re-elected after running unopposed for new three year terms.
The $126,213,223 spending plan for the 2017/18 school year passed, 962-219. A proposition seeking release of $2.495 million from the Building Improvement Fund for various renovation and repair projects also sailed through, 1,022-148. A second capital reserve proposition to authorize the creation of a new Building Improvement Fund also passed by a vote of 998-176.
In the race for two seats on the Huntington School Board, voters re-elected Mrs. Hebert (1,037 votes) and Mr. Palacios (978 votes). Their new terms will commence on July 1 and run through June 30, 2020.
“On behalf of the Board of Education and administration, please accept my sincerest thanks for supporting the Huntington School District’s 2017/18 budget and capital propositions,” wrote Huntington Superintendent James W. Polansky in a letter to the community following the vote. “Your support will allow us to continue addressing the needs of our students in a financially responsible manner and despite any federally and state driven educational and fiscal challenges. Further, your endorsement of the capital propositions will permit us to make needed improvements and upgrades to buildings throughout the district in the years to come.”
The budget approved by voters carries an estimated tax rate increase of 1.15 percent. The average home in the district assessed at $3,600 is projected to see a tax increase of $95.04 before STAR program savings are factored in. However, should the district’s total assessed property values increase above the level estimated in the 2017/18 budget, trustees will be in a position to lower the tax rate increase when final action is taken in the early fall.
Tuesday’s vote culminated a budget process that saw the district seek to keep a tight grip on expenditures. Spending will rise 2.53 percent from the current year, due mainly to increases in instructional and building operations and maintenance costs. The district anticipates receiving an increase of $926,199 in state aid.
“We will maintain our efforts toward achieving cost savings and efficiencies, while preserving the goal of providing students across the district with a high quality education that promotes an appreciation for learning and one that prepares them for their lives beyond Huntington in a 21st century global society,” wrote Mr. Polansky in his letter to the community.
The polls were open for 15 hours on Tuesday. The vote followed months of work developing the budget, holding public meetings, listening to input from residents and updating initial drafts of the financial document.
“As always, I strongly encourage district residents to contact me at any time during the year with questions or concerns or simply to recognize a student or staff member accomplishment,” wrote Mr. Polansky to the community. “Together, we will continue to foster an environment that contributes to the development of academically prepared and well-rounded students, promotes parental involvement and encourages collaboration among all members of the school district community.”
Jennifer Hebert Wins New Term
Previously elected and re-elected in 2011 and 2014, respectively, Mrs. Hebert has an extensive background in education as a parent volunteer, teacher and program director.
Mrs. Hebert and her husband Jamie have lived in Huntington for 20 years. Together they have two boys attending district schools and a third who is a student at Johns Hopkins University.
A Long Island native, Mrs. Hebert graduated from The Wheatley School in the East Williston School District in 1986. She attended Tufts University in Boston, earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1990 and a Master’s degree in Teaching in 1991.
Prior to returning to Long Island, Mrs. Hebert worked as a public school kindergarten teacher in Massachusetts for several years. She is currently the director of the pre-school program at St. John’s Nursery School in Huntington village. She has devoted countless volunteer hours to the Huntington School District as a PTA president and treasurer.
Mrs. Hebert has served on various district committees through the years, including the Long Range Planning Committee. She can frequently be found attending academic, co-curricular and athletic events in schools across the district.
Widely known as a creative thinker who enjoys learning about all aspects of the district and its educational program, Mrs. Herbert believes in listening to all sides of every issue. She is particularly passionate about public school education and believes the learning experience offered to Huntington students should be the finest in the nation.
Xavier Palacios is Re-elected
Elected and re-elected in 2012 and 2015, respectively, Mr. Palacios was a member of Huntington High School’s Class of 1988. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree at Columbia University and a Juris Doctor at Boston University’s School of Law. He is the owner and managing partner of a Mineola-based law firm.
Mr. Palacios and his wife, Laura have three children, including a daughter who was a member of Huntington’s Class of 2016 and is now a University of Pennsylvania freshman and two daughters at Flower Hill Primary School; a first grader and a third grader, both in dual language classes.
In 2008, Mr. Palacios purchased and renovated a distressed property in Huntington Station where he established a satellite law office along with a community revitalization non-profit organization.
Mentoring has been a priority throughout Mr. Palacios’ life. At Columbia, he taught SAT prep and biology courses to inner city students. He has continued mentoring young people and families in the community and encouraged parents to be actively involved in their child’s education. He has been recognized for his work in the community and his efforts to strengthen opportunities for young people.
Mr. Palacios volunteered in each of the past two years to serve as the high school mock trial team’s legal advisor, training students in the art of courtroom skills and strategies. He has spent many hours working behind the scenes with coaches and athletes to help spur participation and promote excellence in the Blue Devil athletic program.
During his time on the Huntington School Board, Mr. Palacios has strived to be a problem-solver and to use his legal expertise to contribute to solutions regarding pressing issues facing students, teachers and taxpayers.