Mineola School District voters overwhelmingly passed the 2012-13 school budget and sent the longest-tenured member of the packing Tuesday.
Following a relatively quick count in the principal’s office of the , current board of education president emerged into the hallway telling a small group of parents and PTA members that she would like to introduce them to the newest board member, .
“He cares,” trustee Terence Hale said of Barnett after the unofficial tallies were read. “He cares a lot about the community and what goes on and it’s going to be fun, it’s going to be a pleasure working with him.”
“I think he’s going to bring a different approach,” Napolitano said of Barnett, whom many had said was her running-mate. “He’s very plain spoken, I like that about him and I think that we will work well together.”
Superintendent Dr. Michael Nagler first announced that residents had overwhelmingly voted to approved the 2012-13 budget 1,249-559. There were a total of 1,808 votes cast, 1,019 less than last year’s total vote count.
“It passed, we put out a good budget , we kept all of our programs in the community and that was our goal all along,” the superintendent said, pointing out that this was the district’s fourth year of a levy increase below 2.5 percent. “We’re very purposeful when we plan, the whole reconfiguration, we’re delivering what we promised, lower tax levies and all of our programs intact.”
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The total , a decrease of $229,458 or a 0.27 percent drop in spending from 2011-12. The proposed tax levy for 2012-13 for Mineola is 1.93 percent, in line with the , or $76,242,180, an increase over 2011-12 of $1,443,803. The 2011-12 tax levy was $74,798,377.
“A very strong support of the budget, which worried me more than anything else,” the new trustee-elect said. “Honestly, the budget worried me more than anything else.”
The campaign between McGrath and Barnett had been noted for being at times, with each candidate to the Mineola Patch the .
“I don’t think they liked the tone of the campaign,” Napolitano said, referring to residents, “which was unfortunate because it was something I never really wanted to happen but I think Mr. McGrath took it in a direction that we didn’t need to go. To me this got very personal. Last year you were talking about an issue; this year you were talking about people and even though I wanted to stay on the topic of issues, it seemed to spiral in a direction that I really didn’t want it to go.”
McGrath was not present at the final tally Tuesday night.
“John had a number of good years, a good run,” Hale said, thanking McGrath for his years of service. “I wish John the best, always have, I still have respect for John, he brings a lot to the table. We now look forward to working with Artie.”
Napolitano had no comment when approached about McGrath’s departure.
When asked if he felt that the vote was a referendum on McGrath’s legacy Barnett said that “maybe they just thought I was a better person, maybe it was just a vote for me and not against him. I’d like to think it was a vote for me and not against him; I think I have something to offer.”
Napolitano came in with the most votes of the night at 1,373, while Barnett garnered 1,161. McGrath had 635 votes cast in his favor. There were 6 votes cast for Eric Triben, a write-in candidate.
“I feel very honored, as I did the first time,” Napolitano said. “I’m just glad to be able to put the campaign behind us and get back to work. I can’t say I was surprised because I truly didn’t know what to expect. I’d like to think it’s a validation (of reconfiguration); I hope that it’s a validation that (the residents) understand that the board is working very hard to try to meet the needs of all students at a price people can afford. I hope that’s what it’s a validation of. I wanted to stay for another 3 years to make sure we saw it through.”
One of Barnett’s primary issues was the in which a in to assist with negotiations.
“It’s a lot more than dollars and cents, there’s language which is why I want to know where we’re at with this negotiation because a lot of times it’s just a matter of language, not necessarily percentage points,” Barnett said. “There may be people right on top of all that, now I’ll find out and who knows? Maybe I’ll spot something that somebody else didn’t spot. Maybe that little bump in the road and we can smooth it out and get things moving again. I don’t like mediators, I’d much rather if both sides can come together.”
The board of education had previously held a fast line on several points in the negotiations, points which are not known or have been discussed at any public meeting since all negotiations are behind closed doors.
“I have to see where we’re at,” Barnett said. “I need to know what that roadblock is, I don’t know what either side is asking for or demanding so I have to see all that. I’m not going to say I agree with either side because I don’t know where either side is right now; now I’m going to find out.”