Tags Posts tagged with "Board of Education"

Board of Education

Mount Sinai High School. File photo by Barbara Donlon

In Mount Sinai, four candidates — three incumbents and one newcomer — are vying for three at-large seats on the school board.

Robert Sweeney

President for five of his six overall years on the school board, Sweeney wants to stay on top of the district’s finances and continue to give the community a voice in how their children are educated.

The father of five and lawyer by trade has lived in Mount Sinai for 15 years and serves on the Eastern Suffolk BOCES advisory committee as well as the executive board of the Maritime Explorium children’s museum in Port Jefferson.

Sweeney said he’s running for a second term as a result of his deep commitment to the school district.

“Mount Sinai doesn’t really have a main street, so the community is the three school districts — that’s where my interest is,” Sweeney said. “I want to continue to be community-involved and have a say in where education is directed. I think the state education department in Albany is trying to take away a lot of the local control of school districts that were always meant to be community based.”

Sweeney said he ran for the board six years ago because he was concerned about taxes in the district. Admitting he was still concerned, Sweeney wants to continue to ease the burden on the taxpayers.

“From day one on the board, I’ve advocated for long-term financial planning,” he said. “While I was president, we never pierced the tax cap … I’ve had my own law practice for 30 years and in running a business, you pay attention to money coming in and going out. We have to understand what revenue we receive in the school district and work within our means.”

Edward Law

Law has served the board for the past six years, three of which he served as vice president. A former coach in the district’s intramural youth soccer program, he works as a management consultant who helps organizations transform themselves either by implementing computer systems to be more efficient or cutting costs — which, he said, lines up with what he’s brought to the board.

“My involvement over the past six years has brought a lot of transparency and fiscal discipline for the public,” Law said. “We’ve been able to keep our taxes and costs under control to the best of our ability … although the tax cap puts a lot of pressure on us, we’ve been able to expand in a very fiscally-prudent manner. We’ve added a lot of AP classes, implemented full-day kindergarten and the Columbia writing program. Our music and fine arts program has been growing and sports teams have been extremely successful.”

The father of three said, looking ahead, he and the board want to start vocational training programs, mostly revolving around hospital services and culinary arts, so students don’t have to travel to outside schools for college credit.

“I want to stay part of it,” he added about maintaining his seat. “I’d love to continue to be part of helping improve the district. We’ve been pretty darn effective over the past six years.”

Peter Van Middelem

A product of the Mount Sinai school district, Van Middelem, who serves as commissioner in the fire district and president of the youth lacrosse program, has lived in the community his entire life. He’s seeking a second term on the board because, he said, he “lives and breathes helping people.”

Van Middelem said he’s proud of the work the board’s done in the last three years — implementing full-day kindergarten, adding components to the music program without piercing the cap — and looks forward to making things even better for students in the district.

“Like anything else, you always want to leave something better than you first found it — we’ve identified different areas we need to improve and I want to continue with that,” he said. “You might see me at a school board meeting, might see me on the back of a fire truck, or at a fire district meeting … I’m just trying to make the community a better place.”

After graduating from Dowling College with an accounting degree in 1996, Van Middelem worked as an accountant for many years before becoming a New York City firefighter in 1999 — where he served for 12 years. He has experience auditing neighboring districts and values communication with others. He has three children, two currently in the district, and his mother and brothers still live in the area, too.

“Mount Sinai is home,” he said. “I love the water, love the people, and love helping to create an environment where kids can excel.”

Michael McGuire

The father of two moved to the community three years ago because of the school district’s reputation. The Port Jefferson native serves as an accountant in his family’s CPA firm, is a former Marine, and served as a police officer in New York City from 2001 to 2008. He recently completed his first year of classes at Touro Law Center in Central Islip.

McGuire decided to run for the board because he believes his professional experiences with auditing and examining financial statements for governments and nonprofits within the CPA firm will provide valuable, and what he sees as much-needed insight into solving the district’s financial problems.

“I’ve gone to the meetings and the district is projected to be broke in two years,” said McGuire, whose one-year-old child will become part of the district in three years. “We have a great district … but there’s a lot of wasteful spending. We need to stop blaming the governor or tax cap and everyone else and look internally on how to save money now to prevent cuts in the future.”

McGuire said it’s unacceptable that the board is presenting a budget with a $1.8 million deficit this year, and said there are plenty of ways to generate revenue.

“A lot of schools have BOCES programs they run at schools and other schools pay tuition to be part of it … the school cut BOCES a few years ago and I’d like to bring it back,” he said. “The school could also rent out fields to PAL or flag football leagues to increase revenue. I want to make sure the school can keep being amazing without worrying about having to cut things to keep it running.”

Miller Place board of education trustees Rich Panico and Lisa Reitan are seeking re-election with no challengers actively running against them. Photos from candidates

The Miller Place board of education has two seats up for election, but it seems, with no challengers, that incumbents Rich Panico and Lisa Reitan aren’t going anywhere.

Rich Panico

Panico, a business owner and 20-year resident of Miller Place, was first elected to the board in 2014 and is seeking a second term because he believes the board as it is works well together.

“Right now it’s going really well — it’s a nice calm that we have and, fiscally, we’re in really good shape,” Panico said. “We have really good relations with the different unions and work together with administration well.”

The father of three sons, two currently in the district, tossed his hat in the ring three years ago because, as the owner of a technology-developing company Symbio for 15 years, he thought he could contribute his business expertise to the district. Outside of the board, he runs Friends of Miller Place Sports as well as the Miller Place Touchdown Club.

Looking forward, he said he’d like to focus the board’s energy on mental health within the district in order to prevent suicidal thoughts or actions among students.

“Kids are under so much pressure and the board is trying to do something about it, like putting together some type of program,” he said. “It’s really difficult — we don’t have the answers yet, but, as a group, we’re trying to figure something out in that area. There are some students who will go to counselors, and others who just won’t when they’re in trouble. I want to find a way to make those kids comfortable. Luckily, as a board, we’re all committed to do something, and it’s one of our real big initiatives.”

Lisa Reitan

Also coming off her third year on the board, Reitan, a fourth-grade teacher in the Brentwood Union Free School District for 25 years, is seeking a second term to continue the work she and her colleagues have been doing.

“I feel like the district has come a long way,” Reitan said. “We’ve added programs, clubs, upgraded our buildings, brought in full-day kindergarten, upgraded libraries in the elementary schools, put in a brand new playground, increased communication with the community, all within constraints of the tax cap. This board has worked so well together and we bring so much. We have a lot of consensus … and we’ve done a lot for the kids and that’s most important.”

Reitan, a longtime Miller Place resident and mother of three, said she ran the first time because she thought the board could use a teacher’s perspective. A big push to run again this year, she said, is to defend public education amid the federal government’s appointment of Betsy DeVos as secretary of education. DeVos has talked about taking funds away from public schools and expanding private education and charter schools.

“That’s wrong and people’s taxes would increase as a result of that,” she said. “I really believe in public schools and the whole idea of education for everybody. I would really like to tow the line with the secretary coming in and make sure our school district gets everything it’s entitled to.”

She added that between the school district and community: “I don’t think you could find a better place to be on Long Island.”

The year’s race for the Shoreham-Wading River’s school board is a crowded one.

With four openings, seven residents — including two incumbents — are hoping to win a seat. Candidates Katie Anderson, Henry Perez, Erin Hunt, James Smith and Michael Yannucci are running, while incumbents Jack Costas and President John Zukowski are seeking re-election. Michael Fucito, a former school board member, resigned earlier this year, leaving a vacant one-year term available.

John Zukowski

John Zukowski

Zukowski has served the board for the past six years. He also serves on the policy committee and space and facilities committee, and has a law firm with his wife in East Setauket. He was heavily involved in finding the district’s newly-appointed superintendent, and said it would be his duty and pleasure to serve alongside him for at least another term if the voters will have him.

Zukowski said the district has been moving in an uphill direction.

“We’ve made some great strides this past year,” he said. “We’ve added robotics and are continually expanding offerings to our kids to ensure that, whether it’s college or the service or trade, they have the skills available to make a living. Since I’ve been here, the board has functioned as a cohesive unit, we pass budgets the voters approved, we pass propositions and, for the first time ever, we’ve passed a bond.”

He said, moving forward, it’s imperative the district continues to seek the input of residents, provide an exceptional education while navigating what he sees as an ill-conceived and poorly implemented Common Core and maintain a strong fiscal position.

Jack Costas

Jack Costas

Coming off his ninth year on the board, Costas is seeking a fourth term because, he said, “contributing a tremendous amount of time to the schools, volunteering in the classroom and cafeteria, fuels me.”

Costas, a self-employed general contractor and 13-year resident of Shoreham, said his time on the board has given him valuable insight and knowledge into the educational, fiscal, legal and personnel functions of the district.

When he was first elected, he said, the district was in disrepair both facilities-wise and fiscally, but said he thinks great progress has been made.

“We’ve improved our facilities, passed several propositions, passed the bond and I think morale is higher overall,” Costas said. “Giving up four to five nights out of the month is a small price to pay because I have a vested interest in this district. Not only am I a homeowner, but I have three children currently in the high school and I believe in giving back.”

Katie Anderson

Katie Anderson

Anderson, a mother of two young children in the district, has been active in the schools as a member of the Miller Avenue School PTO and Wading River School PTA. She decided to run for the board to serve as a positive communicator and bring people together.

She said she wants the district to take advantage of all its active parents, and that communication between administration and residents is the key to success.

“Communication with the community could definitely be improved,” Anderson said. “We are very reactive at this time, and I think we need to be more proactive in communication and unify the community. I would like to promote the mission and vision of our school district, which is whole child-focused.”

As a licensed real estate associate broker working from her home office, Anderson said she would be able to actively participate and attend all board meetings. She also said as a realtor, she wants to safeguard the district’s budgetary reputation, protect the community’s property taxes and use the taxpayer’s contributions to the district in a fiscally responsible way.

Erin Hunt

Erin Hunt

President of the Miller Avenue School PTO, a member of the Shoreham Civic Association and a mother of four, Hunt has decided to run for the board to continue to serve her community.

“I think we have a really awesome community and great schools, and I want to ensure that continues,” Hunt said. “I think we have some of the best teachers on Long Island here in Shoreham, [but] there’s a disconnect between school and board and administration and community, so I’d like there to be more positive dialogue and transparency as to what’s going on. I feel called to serve.”

The former New York City secondary education teacher said she wants to fight to preserve tax rates and serve residents with a lean budget.

“I am committed to contributing a fair perspective that represents all district stakeholders; children first, but inclusive of parents, teachers, staff, administration, coaches, volunteers, taxpayers, board members and residents,” she said.

Henry Perez

Henry Perez

The father of two has lived in the community for more than 15 years and has served Shoreham-Wading River and other school districts as a professional engineer, working with teachers, parents and administrators to help develop K-12 educational facilities that foster better learning environments for students.

He believes his 23 years of professional experience in design and construction, and position as chairman of the district’s space and facilities committee, will enhance the board of education.

“I think the environment the children are learning in is just as important as what they’re actually learning — classrooms should align with curriculum,” Perez said. “A board is a collaboration of people, so there should be a good balance of people with different backgrounds and I don’t think there are engineers in administration or on the board. I can help provide some guidance when it comes time to making decisions on how to plan things out.”

James Smith

James Smith

Smith, a father of four, said the school district has provided a great education, and he values his small community that comes together when needed.

Aside from serving as a coach for the Sound Beach Soccer Club and North Shore Little League, Smith was a former vice president of the Briarcliff PTA, where he set up events like the fall festival, book fairs and parent-children dances.

“When I first came into the district, I wanted to become actively involved and get a better sense of what it had to offer my children,” Smith said. “I have a vested interest in seeing our schools and community succeed.”

In a letter to the district, Smith said one of the most important issues facing the district is transparency between the district and community stakeholders.

“I envision a district where communication is a top priority,” he said. “We must promote programs that are focused on the future, are educationally sound, and are fiscally responsible. To that end, we must create a district focused on 21st century skills enabling our students to be productive and successful members of the 21st century-society.”

Michael Yannucci

Michael Yannucci

The Shoreham-Wading River graduate serves as an assistant principal in the Plainview Old-Bethpage school district and is an adjunct professor of teacher preparation at Concordia College in Bronxville. He served on the Shoreham board as a trustee from 2005 to 2008, where he was involved in getting state aid and installing solar panels within the district.

Yannucci said he’s running again to bring more passion to the board. If elected, he wants to have an open-door policy and talk with any member of the community, as long they’d like, on any given issue.

“As a trustee, my contribution will be a commitment to the community to respectfully listen, be honest, be reflective and be responsive,” Yannucci said. “I’ve sat at board meetings where I too often saw reactionary responses with sometimes rude feedback to our neighbors. I believe to foster a strong community of pride, we should listen to and respect each other.”

If elected, he said he wants to implement more technology into the district to share ideas and communicate with residents and even have live broadcasts of meetings so parents unable to attend them can still stay informed.

The Shoreham-Wading River school district’s school budget and board of education vote will be May 16 from 7 a.m to 9 p.m. at Shoreham-Wading River High School.

Mothers angry over lack of administrative action, response

Rocky Point mother Robin Siefert is upset nothing was done after her 9-year-old daughter found a note on her desk containing several expletives (which have been removed from the photo), a swastika and Adolf Hitler’s name. Photo from Robin Siefert

By Kevin Redding

A Rocky Point mother took the school district to task at a board meeting last week after, she said, nothing was done about a hateful, anti-Semitic note left on her 9-year-old daughter’s desk last month.

Last month, Robin Siefert’s daughter — who is the only Jewish student in her fourth-grade class at Joseph A. Edgar Intermediate School — sat down at her desk to find her “luck of the Irish” Post-It note had three obscenities, a swastika and Adolf Hitler’s name scribbled on it.

Rocky Point mother Robin Siefert is upset nothing was done after her 9-year-old daughter found a note on her desk containing hate speech. Photo by Kevin Redding

The original note, handed out to each student in the class, made her daughter feel lucky and happy, her mother said. She told the board her daughter is now a changed kid.

“Where before she was always outgoing and happy, my daughter now cries on and off all day, she doesn’t sleep through the night, she’s developed anxiety and constantly says no one likes her,” Siefert said. “Why weren’t the students asked to give a handwriting sample? As soon as this happened, an assembly about tolerance should’ve been scheduled. Very little has been done.”

The mother said her daughter felt uncomfortable returning to her class.

“She is now forced every day to sit in the classroom knowing that someone in the room feels animosity toward her while having no idea who that person may be,” she continued telling the board. “And since [the student] has gotten away with this, who knows what they will do next?”

In response, board trustee Sean Callahan, who expressed sympathy and shock, said the administration is not going to turn their backs on this.

“This is intolerable, and I’m not hearing that a person who reportedly did it was identified, and that is a concern,” Callahan said. “That’s what we need to find out.”

Siefert sent an email to the board April 5 explaining the situation, and nothing has been done to date.

She said the district’s failure to ensure her daughter’s safety and well-being in the aftermath of what she considers a targeted incident forced her to take matters into her own hands — she filed a report to officers at the 7th Precinct, who immediately recognized it as a hate crime.

“My daughter now cries on and off all day, she doesn’t sleep through the night, she’s developed anxiety and constantly says no one likes her.”

— Robin Siefert

The police told her they would contact the school and instruct administrators that measures should be taken to find the student who wrote the note. According to the mother, requests to take handwriting samples have been refused.

Siefert did commend her daughter’s teacher, however, who sent a letter to parents alerting them of what happened, and asked them to watch a video with their children.

“He should be recognized for his actions,” Siefert said, “but that letter should’ve been written by an administrator and should have gone home to every parent in the district.”

Siefert said during her meeting with Courtney Herbert, the school’s assistant principal, she was told counselors were sent to speak with students in the classroom — but not specifically her daughter.

“This kid is doodling these things at home the way my kid doodles hearts and rainbows,” she said. “They don’t seem to care about what must be going through her mind at school every day.”

Herbert, the mother said, explained that the school actually has no consequence policy in regards to this type of event,

Siefert said despite calling Michael Ring, the superintendent, March 24, she has not received a response.

“I realized [quickly] they don’t know what to do,” Siefert said. “I don’t think it’s a situation where they don’t want to do anything, but I really felt like these people have no clue what they are supposed to do. They were not thinking about my daughter and how this was going to affect her, at all.”

Two mothers are upset over hate crimes against their children that occurred at Joseph A. Edgar Intermediate School, above, and claim administration has done little to address the issue. Photo from Syntax

The Rocky Point mother is not the only one dealing with this sort of situation. According to an Anti-Defamation League report Monday, “the number of anti-Semitic incidents in the country was 86 percent higher than the same period last year” with about 541 attacks and threats between January and March.

Siefert demanded the school be better prepared to handle situations like this in the future — inspiring a fellow mother to speak out about the school’s mishandling of recent incidents of bullying and discrimination among students.

Alana Rodriguez, the mother of a fourth-grader at the school with a Puerto Rican and Italian background, addressed two racial incidents involving her 10-year-old son.

In November, after President Donald Trump (R) was elected, a classmate of her son’s told him: “I can’t wait for your kind to leave this country,” referring to the wall Trump proposed building at the Mexican border. In February, another student called her son the N-word because he was doing well in a game of basketball against other kids.

“With both incidents, I was never notified by the school — and that’s not okay,” said Rodriguez, who heard about the incidents from her other son. “The child is still in recess with my son — nothing happened to him. He even went up to my son after and said, ‘See, you told on me and I didn’t get in trouble.’”

When Rodriguez met with the assistant principal, she said she was told her son didn’t seem upset by what happened.

“This is intolerable, and I’m not hearing that a person who reportedly did it was identified, and that is a concern. That’s what we need to find out.”

— Sean Callahan

“It’s sad that, at 10, my son can’t count on grown-ups or administration to feel protected,” she said. “There has to be some form of communication from school to home. There should be assemblies throughout the year that teaches kindness and tolerance, and how to treat others.”

In an email response to questions regarding the incidents, Ring made clear the school district doesn’t take matters involving student safety and security lightly.

“[The district] investigates all acts of bullying and harassment immediately upon notification,” Ring wrote. “Any incidents found in violation of our code of conduct or anti-bullying policy are met with proper disciplinary actions and parental involvement when necessary. Additionally, the district’s strong character education program proactively promotes the ideals of acceptance and tolerance of all individuals regardless of their race, gender or religious affiliations … [the administration] remains vigilant in its efforts to keep an open-door communication policy…”

To those like Siefert’s family friend Lisa Malinowski, who joined her when she went to speak with the assistant principal, administration needs to wake up in order to solve problems.

“They have to realize we don’t live in Mayberry,” Malinowski said. “Rocky Point isn’t really the quaint little town they think it is. They really need to wake up and know that the reality of the world today is scary.”

Shoreham-Wading River school board member Michael Fucito, at center with a commemorative dedication statue, was congratulated by the board on his retirement. Photo by Kevin Redding

At the end of last week’s Shoreham-Wading River school board meeting, it bid farewell to its “rock of reason” — a member who’s devoted 27 years to bettering the district and the lives of its students.

In announcing the retirement and resignation of Michael Fucito, 79, who first joined the school board in 1977, board president John Zukowski said Fucito had an incredible commitment to the community and had always been prepared for every meeting, leaving the job with the same dedication he started with.

Michael Fucito, on right, who was a member of the Shoreham-Wading River Board of Education for 27 years, is congratulated on his retirement by his peers. Photo by Kevin Redding

“When we get this job, we’re all sent out for this training [in Albany] and they tell you how to be a board member,” Zukowski said. “What they ought to do [instead] is say, ‘go follow Mike Fucito around for a couple days’ … he’s always applied his common sense and his logic and he kept everybody on track.”

Fucito, who was born in Brooklyn and raised in Wading River, served in the U.S. Air Force from 1955 until 1959 working on radio systems and learning about electronics before becoming an electrical engineer at Northrup Grumman Corporation in Calverton, where he worked for 34 years. He married his wife Joan in 1960 and together they had three daughters, all of whom went through the school district.

Fucito decided to join the board, and served for two terms from 1977 until 1993 and then from 2006 until last week, because he felt it was his responsibility to give back to the community and improve the district as best he could.

During his tenure, he was a mover and shaker when it came to building maintenance, budget and overall safety for the students, serving on the main board of liaisons on the safety committee formed in the late 70s and 80s, when the much-opposed Shoreham nuclear power plant stood in East Shoreham.

The safety committee, consisting of concerned residents, board members and teachers, was formed to discuss the district’s evacuation plans in the event of a serious nuclear accident at the plant, in the wake of the Three Mile Island accident.

“Mike is the epitome of what a trustee should strive to be. He’s always prepared … he’s always willing to serve, go the extra mile, sit through the ardor of every different committee and always comes out with his same smile.”

—William McGrath

“He was always an incredibly conscientious, hardworking, reflective guy and that’s what you want in a board member,” said Ed Weiss, a former board member and Fucito’s longtime friend. “You’re there to help kids and that’s the way he worked.”

He didn’t anticipate his early March resignation. He planned on finishing out the school year before retiring, moving from Wading River to his summer home in Wells, Vermont, but his house ended up selling in just three days.

Board trustee William McGrath, who’s worked alongside Fucito on the board for nine years, said his friend’s early resignation is New York’s loss and Vermont’s gain.

“Mike is the epitome of what a trustee should strive to be,” McGrath said. “He’s always prepared … he’s always willing to serve, go the extra mile, sit through the ardor of every different committee and always comes out with his same smile … He has been the glue that has held this district together for an awful long time.”

Upon receiving a plaque presented by the board, Fucito humbly stated his accomplishments weren’t a one-person effort, and said it takes a whole board to work to get something done.

“It has been my pleasure to serve the community all these years and I also have a great deal of respect for each of the members I’ve served with,” he said. “I wasn’t on the board to try to be a superhero or anything, I just tried to work with the staff and see how we could improve the situation for the students.”

Tuesday night was a good one for school boards across New York State, as residents cast their ballots overwhelmingly in favor of district budgets.

According to the New York State School Boards Association, almost all of the school districts that had adopted budgets within their state-mandated caps on how much they could increase their tax levy had their voters stand behind those budgets. For those who pierced the cap, almost 78 percent of those budgets were approved — still a much larger approval rate than in previous years for such budgets. The approval rate for cap-busting budgets last year was about 61 percent.

“School districts managed to put together spending plans that in some cases restored educational programs and services, thanks to a large infusion of state aid,” NYSSBA Executive Director Timothy G. Kremer said in a statement, referring to an increase in aid included in the state’s own budget that legislators recently approved. “The question is, will the state be able to sustain that commitment going forward?”

Here’s how school districts on the North Shore of Suffolk County fared:

Cold Spring Harbor
Residents approved the budget, 527 to 132, and a Proposition 2 regarding a capital reserve fund, 520 to 132. Vice President Amelia Walsh Brogan and Lizabeth Squicciarni, a member of the Citizen Faculty Association, a parent-teacher association at the CSH Junior/Senior High School, were elected to the school board with 469 and 455 votes, respectively. Lloyd Harbor resident George Schwertl fell short with 313 votes.

Commack
Commack voters approved the budget, with 1,837 to 536 votes. Hartman won with 1,703 votes while Verity received 1,167 votes to beat out challenger Hermer, who had 916.

Comsewogue
The Port Jefferson Station Teachers Association reports that the two incumbents who were running unopposed for re-election, Rob DeStefano and Francisca Alabau-Blatter, were returned to the school board with 895 and 785 votes, respectively. The district’s cap-compliant $87.2 million budget passed with more than 80 percent voter approval, with 828 votes in favor to 194 against.

Harborfields
Harborfields voters approved a cap-piercing $82.8 million budget at the polls tonight, the only one on the North Shore, 2,099 to 1,017. Incumbent Hansen Lee and Colleen Wolcott were elected to the board of education with 1,569 and 1,301 votes, respectively. Challengers Chris Kelly (1,001 votes), Marge Acosta (992 votes) and Joseph Savaglio (571 votes) fell short in their own bids.

Hauppauge
The $108 million budget passed, 1,066 to 363. A Proposition 2 regarding a capital reserve fund passed as well, 1,050 to 361. Rob Scarito, Gary Fortmeyer and David Barshay were all elected to the school board with 1,053 votes, 1,050 votes and 1,006 votes, respectively.

Huntington
According to results posted on the school district’s website, the community approved both a $123.1 million budget and a proposition to use almost $2.5 million of the district’s building improvement fund, or capital reserve, to update eight Huntington schools and make them compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Incumbents Bari Fehrs and Bill Dwyer were re-elected to the school board, while challenger Carmen Kasper fell short in her bid for one of the two seats.
Kasper said, “I am sorry to say I lost, but my desire to be involved with the schools and students has not been lost. There is always next time. I congratulate the two incumbents; I wish them the best.  We all work for the same cause: to improve education for our students.”
Dwyer said he looked forward to “continuing to work with the board and administration to expand our educational programs in a fiscally responsible manner.”
For her part, Fehrs noted the margin of approval: “I believe it shows a trust from the community that they are very supportive of our district and are confident in the way administration and the board of education are managing the education for the students in the district.”

Kings Park
Voters passed the budget, 1,544 to 615, and Prop 2, regarding vehicles, 1,603 to 544. Pam DeFord was re-elected with 1,629 votes, Dan Tew elected with 1,522 votes. Francis Braun and Juan Pablo Andrade fell short of their bids, with 554 and 293 votes, respectively.

Middle Country
Voters approved the budget with 1,924 votes in favor and 337 against. The elected school board trustees were Robert Feeney, Dawn Sharrock and Kristopher Oliva.

Miller Place
The community passed the budget, 1,064 to 236, and a Proposition 2 regarding the library, 1,153 to 141. Two school board trustees were elected, Johanna Testa (876 votes) and Noelle Dunlop (737 votes). Candidates Michael Unger and Michael Manspeizer fell short of board seats with 533 and 198 votes, respectively.

Mount Sinai
Residents approved the budget, 1,150 to 275.  On proposition 2, it passed with 1,266 votes in favor and 159 against. Lynn Jordan was re-elected to the school board with 726 votes, while Kerri Anderson won a seat with 733 votes.
“It shows that people have been satisfied with what I’ve been doing,” Jordan said. “It’s a true honor to serve and I love the work.”
Anderson said: “With my personal background in education and as a teacher, I’m hoping to bring some of my experience to help with Mount Sinai schools and things that we can maybe do differently to make it better.”
But Superintendent Gordon Brosdal was not as enthused: “I’m not so pleased with the turnout since we have 9,500 registered voters and annually we bring around 1,500 and we’re even a little below that. That’s a little disappointing when you have five good people running for the board.”

Northport-East Northport
Voters approved a $161 million budget (2,568 to 687 votes), a proposition on $2 million in capital improvements (2,848 to 390 votes), and a proposition reducing the amount of board members from nine to seven (1,881 to 1,294 votes). Allison Noonan (2,039 votes), Andrew Rapiejko (1,984 votes) and Lori McCue (1,560 votes) were elected to the school board while Julia Binger and Shawne Albero fell short of seats with 1,543 and 1,410 votes, respectively.

Port Jefferson
Incumbents Kathleen Brennan and Ellen Boehm ran unopposed for their third terms and were re-elected with 348 and 347 votes, respectively. Residents also approved a cap-compliant $41.4 million budget with 353 votes in favor and just 55 vote against.

Rocky Point
The school district proposed a $80.6 million budget that residents approved, 720-322, and a proposition on capital projects that was approved, 654-387. Susan Y. Sullivan was elected to the board of education with 823 votes.

Shoreham-Wading River
The school budget passed 855-545, according to results posted on the district website. Kimberly Roff and Michael Lewis were elected to the board of education with 957 and 792 votes, respectively. Richard Pluschau fell short, with 621 votes.

Smithtown
The $236 million budget passed 2,665 to 921.
Challenger Daniel Lynch defeated incumbent Theresa Knox with 2,171 votes to her 1,197, while Michael Saidens won the second available seat with 1,870 votes, compared to challengers Robert Foster (734 votes) and Robert Montana (657 votes).

Three Village
Voters approved a $198.8 million budget (2,603 to 997) and a Proposition 2 on transportation (2,154 to 1,404). Incumbent Jonathan Kornreich and Angelique Ragolia were elected with 2,401 votes and 2,379 votes, respectively. Andrea Fusco-Winslow missed her target, with just 1,314 votes.

Harborfields High School. Photo by Victoria Espinoza

Five candidates are vying for two open seats on the Harborfields board of education.

Hansen Lee

Hansen-LeewIncumbent Hansen Lee is seeking a second term while board member Irene Gaughan is not seeking re-election.

In an interview with TBR News Media, Lee said he was the best option to represent the community because he is proactive with engaging students and parents.

“I haven’t missed a concert in the last eight years … and I attend at least one varsity and junior varsity sports game per team. I want to be visible, so that when I make a board decision, I have first-hand knowledge of what’s going and what the community thinks.”

Lee has served the district for the past 17 years with the Harborfields Alumni and Community Educational Foundation and as a district volunteer.

He said technology is an area he has worked to improve in the district. Instituting Wi-Fi, and the use of Google Chromebooks in schools are some of the accomplishments he is proud of initiating in his first term.

Chris Kelly

CK-PicwChris Kelly ran for a seat last year, and this year, said he wants to help the district think more long-term.

“Harborfields needs someone to go through the numbers, and I’d like to do some long-term planning,” he said in a phone interview. “I can predict variables and prepare us for years to come, and keep the district on top.”

Kelly has been working in the market data business for the past 19 years, and is a self-proclaimed “numbers guy.” He has volunteered for the Harborfields Get Out the Vote committee, the Parent Teacher Association, and has worked with Fair Start: Harborfields Residents for Full-Day Kindergarten.

“I get to see the glue that holds the school together,” he said.

Marge Acosta

Marge-Acosta-for-BOE-pic-grwMarge Acosta, a former primary school science teacher, threw her hat into the ring. The Centerport resident said she thinks her education experience and “insight on how children learn,” could be used to help bring in new programs to the district. Acosta said she would like to see more science, technology, engineering and math programs integrated into district curriculum.

“It is crucial for kids to have success in the future,” she said of these programs. “Obtaining a curriculum that is developmentally appropriate and effective in preparing our children for the 21st century must be our first priority.”

Acosta is a member of the Harborfields full-day kindergarten committee, Fair Start and the PTA.

Colleen WolcottColeen-Wolcottw

Fellow Centerport resident Colleen Wolcott also entered into the race. She has experience as a special education teacher and said she wants to “maximize opportunities for students with special needs,” bring additional electives to the high school, and develop marketing tools to improve communication and the dissemination of information between the board and the community.

Wolcott is the current president of the Harborfields Special Education Parent Teacher Association, and is a member of the district’s health and welfare committee, the Washington Drive PTA, and the Harborfields Alliance For Community Outreach.

“I’ve gotten in the trenches,” she said in a phone interview. “I know the administration well and I’ve gotten to see how it all works.”

Joseph Savaglio

Joe-SavagliowRounding out the panel of candidates is Joseph Savaglio, a Long Island native who said he wants to use his experience with overseeing budgets to help control costs and improve the educational system at Harborfields.

“I would like to see an expansion of curriculum in arts and languages,” he said, “as well as restore some programs we lost in special education and sports.”

Savaglio has been a resident for 27 years, and working with real estate management companies, has managed properties all over the country.

File photo

By Victoria Espinoza

Three incumbents are up for re-election on the Northport-East Northport board of education and are defending their seats against two challengers.

Shawne Albero

Shawne-AlberowShawne Albero, one of the five contenders, has been in the Northport community for the past six years and has been involved with both the Northport Middle School Parent Teacher Association and the Special Education PTA.

“We need a fresh perspective to help further utilize the talents of our community,” Albero said.

She said she is an advocate for providing students with more detailed report cards that give further insight into a student’s mastery of each academic subject.

Albero said, if elected, she would work to bring in more state and federal aid to help provide more programs and opportunities for students.

Allison NoonanAllison-Noonanw

Allison Noonan, a social studies teacher in Syosset school district, is another resident making her first run at a seat. She is involved in the PTA and SEPTA, and believes her newcomer status is exactly why she is the right choice for the job.

“I am not a part of the board that supported a failed administrator,” Noonan said of former Northport-East Northport Superintendent Marylou McDermott.

She said under McDermott’s tenure, district facilities, like the athletic fields, bathrooms and classrooms, fell into disrepair, and she would work to fix those problems.

Julia Binger

Northport-East-Northport-School-Board-President-Julia-Binger_ABBASwOne of the incumbents, Julia Binger, is seeking her third term, after first winning her seat in July 2010. She has previously served on the board’s audit committee and as its president. She said among her proudest accomplishments on the board is recruiting the school’s new superintendent, Robert Banzer.

“I think we came up with a really excellent candidate that I am very pleased with,” she said.

She is also proud of the budgets she has helped shape, which she said maintain a healthy funding reserve for the district.

Lori McCueLori-McCue-Photow

Trustee Lori McCue is also hoping for a third term on the board. She has worked with the Ocean Avenue Elementary School and Northport Middle School PTAs, and has volunteered with the Northport Relay For Life event.

McCue said she was the lead trustee on the district’s energy performance contract, which will result in $13 million in future capital improvements for the district, including upgrading fixtures to LED lighting and other improvements that will make buildings more energy efficient.

McCue is also the chairperson of the audit committee and a member of the policy committee.

“We have worked to have nearly every policy online in an easy format,” McCue said in a phone interview about her work on the policy committee.

Andrew Rapiejko

AndrewRapiejkowCurrent board President Andrew Rapiejko is finishing his sixth year on the board and wants to continue to serve the district.

Like Binger, he is proud of his work in the search to find a new leader for the district.

“Hiring the superintendent, who’s done a tremendous job this year, was a big accomplishment,” Rapiejko said in a phone interview. “Being able to sort through the applicants and choose someone who’s the right fit was a challenge.”

Rapiejko said it is important for Banzer to have experienced people with him while he transitions to his second year at the helm.

The current president once served as chairman of the audit committee.

Joe Sabia file photo

Joe Sabia will be waiting for results on a stressful election eve for the third time in his 39 years as a resident of Northport Village on Mar. 15.

Sabia, a former member of the Northport-East Northport school board and a mayoral candidate in the 2014 Northport election, is running for trustee on the village board this time around.

“I’ve been here since 1977,” the 60-year-old Sabia said in a phone interview. “I’m not a newcomer.”

Sabia will face incumbents Jerry Maline and Damon McMullen in the 2016 election. He said that his experiences running for school board and mayor have prepared him.

“I realized people have to get out and vote,” Sabia said, adding that he knocked on about 1,400 doors when he was running for mayor in 2014 against incumbent George Doll. But that wasn’t enough to unseat the incumbent mayor.

Sabia said that he was not happy about the village’s proposed budget that was released in January, which included more than a 3 percent increase to the tax levy. Lowering taxes was one of several issues that Sabia said is important to his campaign and eventual term, if he is elected.

“You’re pushing people to the limit,” Sabia said about taxpayers in the village.

He also mentioned fixing sidewalks and roads in the village, changing the way that snow removal is handled, improving village parks, addressing environmental concerns associated with storm water runoff and upgrading street lights to be more efficient as some of the issues that are important to him and in need of the village’s attention.

“I have fresh ideas,” Sabia said. He said he is also interested in “revamping” village hall, though he said he would prefer to fund a project like that through donations, not tax dollars.

Asharoken Village found success with resident donations financing parts of the cost for the new village hall, which opened in January 2015.

Sabia has a history of wanting to keep costs low.

He went after his former school board colleagues at a board of education meeting on July 1, 2015, after they approved the appointment of Lou Curra as the district’s interim assistant superintendent for human resources, a position that paid Curra $935 per day during his six months in the position. He said he believed Curra was being overpaid.

Sabia owns Sabia’s Car Care, an automotive repair shop located on Fort Salonga Road in Northport. Nonetheless, he said he’s confident that he would have more than enough time to effectively serve the village as a trustee.

Sabia’s daughters, ages 25 and 29, were products of the Northport-East Northport school district, and his late wife Valerie served as the village court clerk until she passed away about four years ago, he said.

Miller Place superintendent Marianne Higuera speaks during the Sept. 30 board of education meeting regarding the cancellation of this year's pep rally. Photo by Victoria Espinoza

Miller Place students and parents alike were very disappointed with the administrations decision to cancel this year’s high school pep rally.

“I am aware some students misbehaved,” Louann Cronin, a Miller Place resident, said, “but they should suffer, not our student athletes. I am here on behalf of the good, hardworking students, and I don’t think it’s fair.”

Approximately 30 students and parents gathered at the Sept. 30 board meeting, all upset with this decision that they felt they were not a part of at all.

“This does not feel like a community decision,” Steve Delurey, another Miller Place resident, said.

Superintendent Marianne Higuera stood by the decision.

“It’s gotten progressively worse in the last three years,” Higuera said. “We added extra chaperones last year in order to reduce peer mistreatment, but many students last year made poor choices. When I can’t guarantee the health and safety of 1,000 kids at an event I can’t agree to have that event. That is why this is not a community discussion, because you are not responsible for those kids. But I am.”

Miller Place student Sabrina Luisa speaks during the Sept. 30 board of education meeting about her feelings on the board canceling this year's pep rally. Photo by Victoria Espinoza
Miller Place student Sabrina Luisa speaks during the Sept. 30 board of education meeting about her feelings on the board canceling this year’s pep rally. Photo by Victoria Espinoza

While members of the board seem divided, they stood behind the executive decision.

“I am sorry to see pep rally go,” Johanna Testa, president of the board, said. “But I support the decision. It wasn’t a quick decision.”

Trustee Lisa Reitan said she tried to work with the board to find alternatives, since she personally does not agree with the decision.

“As a parent I don’t agree, but I support the choice because of the concerns” Reitan said. “But we have tried to be your voice.”

Trustee Noelle Dunlop said she felt last year’s pep rally was scary for parents whose children could’ve ended up at the hospital that night.

Rumors had circulated that some students had been drinking and using drugs at the rally last year.

Parents questioned if there were ways to ensure that kids knew before the pep rally that if they misbehaved during it there would be guaranteed punishments.

“Could you say to the student body, ‘If you make a bad decision, then you won’t be going to prom?’ That way they know ahead of time their behavior won’t be allowed,” Cronin said.

Miller Place high school senior Sabrina Luisa said she and her peers are very upset with the decision.

“A handful of students shouldn’t determine the fate of all students,” Luisa said. “Why do their actions dictate how the entire school should be run?”

A petition has been posted on I-Petitions. It currently has 870 signatures and more than 160 comments, all asking that the board and high school principal Kevin Slavin reconsider their decision.

Social

4,810FansLike
5Subscribers+1
992FollowersFollow
19SubscribersSubscribe