Herricks passes $141M budget, Bono defeats Trustee Hassan, Quraishi victorious in field if 5

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Herricks passes $141M budget,  Bono defeats Trustee Hassan, Quraishi victorious in field if 5
Residents elected Maria Bono (left) and Shaheda Quraishi (right) to the Herricks Board of Education. (Courtesy of the candidates)

Maria Bono, a former teacher and active PTA member, defeated incumbent Trustee Brian Hassan with 63% of the vote, Northwell physician Shaheda Quraishi defeated five challengers for seats on the Herricks Board of Education and a $141 million budget was approved with 63% of the 2,590 votes on Tuesday.

Hassan, who lost his seat to Bono, received 874 votes. Challengers Eric Lo, Ravinder Ratra, Russell Stuart, and Surendra Gupta lost to Quraishi, receiving 569 votes, 473 votes, 288 votes, and 184 votes, respectively.

Bono, who won election to the board with 1,502 votes, is a former New York City school teacher. She has lived in Albertson for 22 years. Bono has three children who have graduated from the district and one who is currently a 10th grader.

Residents approved the 2024-2025 budget with a 1,632 to 958 margin.

The $141,710,364 2024-2025 budget represents a 5.2% increase from the 2023-2024 budget of $134,719,970.

The tax levy increase is 2.38%, which is within the state tax cap.

Board members said the larger-than-usual budget increase was due in part to the cost of settling child sex abuse claims against the district.

When the board adopted the proposed 2024-2025 budget, the district’s original state aid projection was $27 million. According to the administration, state aid will provide around 20% of total district revenues in the 2024-2025 budget.

Rutkoske said the district will receive $100,000 more in state aid under the recently approved state budget than under Gov. Kathy Hochul’s initial proposal.

“I also feel it’s important that people on the board, that there’s a turnaround and new blood,” Bono previously told Alb Media. “Currently, we have five members that have been there for 12 years, plus. And none of them have children on the board and I think that’s important as well in order to be relevant and be able to connect with the community.”

Bono later acknowledged that she misspoke and one member has been there for only seven years.

Bono said she has been highly involved in the district for 20 years, including acting as the president of nearly every district PTA at some point.

“I’m grateful for all the support I received from the Herricks community. I am humbled by how many people came out to vote for me. I look forward to continuing to serve the district on the Board of Education,” Bono said.

Quraishi, who won election to the board with 1,147 votes, previously said she believed her work experience was a perfect fit for the board.

“As a physician from Northwell, I am uniquely poised to help facilitate [the partnership between Northwell and Herricks],” Quraishi said. “The mental health needs of our students is also a very, very big concern and I want to make sure we’re providing all the resources that we can to help our kids be the best that they can be.”

Quraishi is a lifelong Nassau County resident. She is no stranger to the district, having lived in the Herricks district for nearly 40 years. She has three children in the Herricks district: one in elementary school, one in middle school and one in high school.

The physician also works as an assistant professor at the Hofstra School of Medicine. She said education is her favorite part of her job.

An issue top of mind for board members and residents alike is the cost of lawsuits filed against the Herricks district under the 2019 Child Victims Act, a law that temporarily lifted the statute of limitations for child sex abuse survivors.

Some 21 lawsuits against Herricks were filed by former students who claimed they were abused between 1973 and 1991 by then-school psychologist Vincent Festa.

In the cases that went to trial, plaintiffs alleged that the district ignored initial reports of abuse in the 1980s, thus permitting the abuse to ensue.

The district has paid $1.1 million to settle four of the 21 claims thus far. The board recently approved the payment of up to $35 million in bonds to settle the remaining 17 claims against the district.

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