By a count of 1,954 to 1,047, residents approved the Long Beach School District’s $140 million budget for the 2018-19 school year on Tuesday.
The spending plan is about $4.6 million larger than this year’s budget, and comes with a $2.9 million tax-levy increase.
Sam Pinto and Tina Posterli were elected to three-year terms on the Board of Education, defeating incumbent school board President Stewart Mininsky, Lori Montgomery and newcomer Ronald McHenry. Pinto and Posterli garnered 1,767 and 1,492 votes, respectively, while Montgomery received 1,227; Mininsky, 811; and McHenry, 376.
“I’m really excited,” Pinto said, “and I’m very thankful to the community for supporting my candidacy with messaging, outreach and especially for bringing people to vote, and I’m honestly a little shocked how great it was, but the truth is that this is what the community wants, and I hope to deliver that for them.”
“I’m very excited to move forward, and I really look forward to working with the fellow board members and getting a lot done for the children and for the community,” Posterli said. “I’m thrilled.”
Residents also approved the Long Beach Public Library’s $3.5 million budget, 2,188 to 779, and Gemma Tansey was elected to the library board of trustees with 1,254 votes. She ran unopposed.
Voters approved two additional measures. Proposition 2, earmarking $925,000 from the district’s Capital Reserve Fund for security-related projects, passed by a vote of 2,075 to 788. The work will include the installation of new doors and locks at East Elementary School and the middle and high schools, the construction of a new interior cafeteria wall at the high school and a new security vestibule at the Nike Work-Based Learning Center. Proposition 3, creating a new capital reserve fund for future needs, was approved, 1,919 to 881.
“We’re excited about the enhancements in academics, security, the arts and athletics that this budget will provide in the next school year,” a statement from the district read. “The tax levy supporting this budget is significantly lower than the maximum allowable tax levy. Thank you to the residents that came out to the ballots and to all who participated in the budget development process by attending work sessions and sharing input at meetings.”
Board of Education trustees gathered at the Long Beach Middle School late Tuesday night to announce the results. “I’d like to congratulate the new board members,” Mininsky said, “and I want to thank the community publicly for passing the budget.”
Trustee Darlene Tangney, who served on the board for eight years but did not seek re-election, thanked Mininsky for his work on the board, and congratulated Pinto and Posterli. “I wish you the very best,” Tangney told them. “This is not an easy job, but I have faith that you will carry out and advocate properly for all of the students in our district.”
Pinto — who was elected to the library board last year — ran on a platform that encouraged vocational opportunities for students, and commended the state-exam opt-out movement. He said that teachers should teach the “whole child” rather than focusing on the state’s standardized tests, so students would be prepared for “life.”
Posterli addressed a handful of issues during the campaign, including a need for a sharper focus on the “middle,” or average, student, and suggested implementing action plans for those students to help them succeed. She also said that the district should improve its efforts to include parents in budget communications, and be more transparent earlier in the annual budget process.