Rocky Point has two candidates, an incumbent and a newcomer, vying for two open board of education seats.
With trustee Melissa Brown choosing not to run again, trustee Sean Callahan seeks re-election while Joseph Coniglione, Comsewogue High School principal, is putting his name in the hat.
Callahan, a 41-year resident and graduate of the Rocky Point school district, was first elected to the board three years ago. He has worked as an external auditor specializing in auditing school districts, is a certified New York State School Business Official and currently serves as an employment and labor attorney, well versed in bond and civil service issues and other aspects of education and school law.
If elected, he said he wants to continue the communication among all stakeholders that has started to come back to the district.
“When I first ran, there was a breakdown between the administration, the existing board and teachers,” Callahan said. “I believe the board has since made an earnest effort to really talk to the community and teachers to hear their concerns. I’m trying to continue the dialogue — I talk to the custodians, teachers, everybody in the district. That’s what I hope to continue.”
As a member of the board, Callahan has seen a tightening of academic eligibility policies, where students are required to perform well in the classroom before they can take part in any extracurricular activity.
Outside of the board, Callahan has been involved in the North Shore Little League for more than nine years and coaches CYO basketball and soccer for St. Anthony’s Church in Rocky Point. He and his wife have three sons — aged 18, 17 and 15 — enrolled in the high school.
Coniglione, an educator for 22 years and principal of Comsewogue High School, has decided to make a run for a seat on Rocky Point’s board of education.
“I want to make sure there’s an open line of communication among parents, teachers and students,” Coniglione said. “The goal should always be to make sound decisions in the best interest of the student’s academic, social and emotional needs. I’m always looking to do a better job [in Comsewogue] and have had great success in this area. It’s really all about the kids. I want what’s best for them.”
Looking to be part of the team, the 15-year Rocky Point resident, and father of two students in the district, grew up in Holbrook and graduated from Sachem High School before earning his master’s degree in reading and elementary education from Dowling College. He taught special education in the Brentwood school district for 10 years, before becoming assistant principal and ultimately principal at Comsewogue. He’s served the Comsewogue district now for the past 12 years.
At Comsewogue, Coniglione said he’s implemented parent and student committees, as well as surveys throughout the school, to gauge a wide variety of perspectives on how to improve the district. He wants to bring more transparency to Rocky Point and encourages the board to open up its books and ask the public what they think needs to change.
In the past, Coniglione said he had been concerned about balancing his role as principal and board member, which is why he never ran previously. But in speaking with administration in both the Comsewogue and Rocky Point districts, he realized there would be no issue.
“There seems to be no conflicts at all — everything is spread out and the meetings I need to be at, I can book around,” he said. “The Comsewogue administration is very supportive of my run and the board told me it wouldn’t be an issue.”
The school budget and board of education vote is on May 16 at the Rocky Point High School gym from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.