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Election

Mayor Dolores ‘Dee’ Parrish will serve another two-year term in Poquott. File photo

Incumbent Mayor Dolores “Dee” Parrish defeated challenger Barbara Donovan in her bid for a second term at the helm of Poquott Village on Election Day Tuesday.

Parrish did not appear on the ballot after a state Supreme Court judge ruled in favor of a lawsuit, brought about in part by Donovan, that claimed there were errors in her nominating petition, yet she received 239 write-in votes. Donovan received 190 votes. The race was a rematch of the 2014 election, which saw Parrish unseat Donovan, who was a 12-year incumbent.

Fifteen-year village resident Michael Schaefer and member of Poquott’s planning board captured one of the trustee seats up for election, while small business owner and lifelong Three Village resident John Mastauskas grabbed the other. Schaefer campaigned with Donovan and former Village Clerk Joan Hubbard as a member of the Party of Unity and Respect. Mastauskas, like Parrish and trustee candidates Gary Garofano and Sandra Nicoletti, was forced to pursue election as a write-in candidate.

Schaefer and Mastauskas received 205 and 198 votes, respectively. Hubbard finished third with 187 votes. Nicoletti’s name was written in 149 times, and Garofano’s 82.

None of the seven candidates could be reached for comment by press time Wednesday.

Lawsuits, allegations, closed-door meetings and hard feelings highlighted the campaign in the buildup to Tuesday’s vote. Parrish reached out to voters on the eve of the election Monday night in a nearly 2,000-word email.

“I will continue to improve the beaches and parks, and I will continue to run quality community events for all ages,” Parrish said. “My thoughts are that if beaches and parks are beautiful, safe and remain pet-friendly, people will come out to enjoy them. Physically bringing people together is the first step toward quenching the fires sparked by the few at the expense of the many.”

Port Jefferson Village is crafting its budget for next year. File photo by Elana Glowatz

Port Jefferson residents shook up the village court on Tuesday night, voting for a new justice to take over the bench.

Tara Higgins is the new village justice. Photo from the candidate
Tara Higgins is the new village justice. Photo from the candidate

In addition to re-electing Trustees Bruce D’Abramo and Bruce Miller, who were running unopposed, to their positions on the village board in this week’s election, voters chose attorney Tara Higgins to serve out the three years remaining on the term of former Justice Peter Graham, who died in office late last year shortly after being re-elected to his judgeship — and after more than 30 years of service.

Candidate Bill Glass had been appointed to serve in Graham’s place until an election could be held, but he lost his bid for re-election, with only 330 votes to Higgins’ 390 votes.

A third challenger, attorney Scott Zamek, garnered just 158 votes.

The defeat is a repeat for Glass, who also lost a try for the village bench against Graham in 2011.

Higgins, a 50-year-old East Setauket native, has lived in Port Jefferson for 18 years. Her connection to the village goes further back: the Tara Inn pub uptown, owned by her father, was named for her.

Tara Higgins: 390 votes
Bill Glass: 330 votes
Scott Zamek: 158 votes

A graduate of Seton Hall University School of Law, she works at Islandia-based Lewis Johs Avallone Aviles LLP, where she does municipal defense work and civil defense litigation.

The unopposed trustees, D’Abramo and Miller, secured their fourth and second terms, respectively.

Miller has listed his goals for a new term as pushing for the Port Jefferson power plant to be upgraded, to keep it a viable form of energy and property tax revenue; making the village more energy-efficient; and strengthening the power grid in Port Jefferson to better withstand storms. For his part, D’Abramo wants to revitalize the uptown area and improve the village’s infrastructure.

Mayoral candidate Barbara Donovan with trustees Michael Schaefer and Joan Hubbard. Photo from Unity and Respect Party

Dear Poquott Village residents,

As most of you know, I was mayor of the Village of Poquott for 12 years and I’m running again. I believe in fiscal and environmental responsibility and transparency at all government levels. I want to spend the next two years getting the job done. I will work within the parameters of the law to do the right thing. I have always respect residents, whether homeowners or renters, and have valued their input.

I’ve lived in Poquott for 44 years. My late husband’s family arrived in the 1890’s and purchased property in the original Bayview Park area. They were involved in the incorporation of the Vilage of Poquott in the 1930s.

I’m a 28-year member of the Setauket Fire Department, having served as a firefighter, EMT, and now as fire police/peace officer. I am also a member of the Poquott Civic Association and many other community organizations. As you can see, I love this community and have “walked the walk” to make Poquott the best it can be.

I’m now retired, but have 30 years of experience in marketing, development and public relations. Budgets were and are my specialty.

As mayor, I consistently attended New York State mayors conferences, planning board and zoning board of appeals workshops and other county and town informational sessions to keep myself current on the latest updates and changes in all local, state and federal laws and mandates.

My door was always open and my personal phone accessible. Residents were welcome to use village hall at any time when village business was not being conducted. All meetings were held in the open and residents were encouraged to attend and comment without fear of repercussions.

When re-elected, these principles will be reinstated immediately. I am, and have always been, committed to courteous and respectful interactions with everyone. I expect the same behavior from all members of my board. The Unity and Respect Party promises to bring back the quality of life that all residents — homeowners and renters alike — have come to expect.

I hope the Unity and Respect Party candidates, trustees Michael Schaefer and Joan Hubbard, and I as mayor, can count on your vote on Tuesday, June 21 at village hall from noon to 9 p.m.

Thank you for your support.

Barbara Donovan, candidate for mayor of the Village of Poquott

Bruce Miller is running for re-election. Photo by Elana Glowatz

By Elana Glowatz

Two village trustees are unopposed for re-election this month, each with his own goals for improving Port Jefferson.

Bruce D’Abramo and Bruce Miller are seeking a fourth term and a second term on the village board of trustees, respectively.

Bruce Miller is running for re-election. Photo by Elana Glowatz
Bruce Miller is running for re-election. Photo by Elana Glowatz

Miller wants to keep up his work to get the Port Jefferson power plant upgraded, known as repowering. The aging power plant runs on outdated technology and many residents and officials fear the loss of its significant property tax revenue if it were to shut down without being rebuilt.

“It’s something that I’ve been doing for about 20 years,” he explained, between his work on the Port Jefferson school board and with the local group Grassroots Committee to Repower Port Jefferson. “I want to try to see this thing through. I think it’s very important to the community. I have other interests but I have I think significant expertise in this area and think that I can benefit the people of the village.”

Miller is also interested in environmental issues, and said he has been working with the village’s conservation committee on making the village more energy-efficient and on strengthening the power grid in Port Jefferson to better withstand storms. He is helping put together a proposal to receive grant funding for a microgrid, which would be independent of the regional grid and rely on its own power-generating resources — and thus keep the community, which includes two hospitals, going during power outages.

For those who may vote for him, Miller said he strives to “keep in mind [the idea of] a small maritime New England village.”

Bruce D’Abramo is running for re-election. Photo by Elana Glowatz
Bruce D’Abramo is running for re-election. Photo by Elana Glowatz

The other candidate, D’Abramo, is running for two more years because “I love what I’m doing in Port Jefferson and I love the difference that we’re making.”

He said his top priority in the past and in a new term is to “turn uptown port Jefferson around into a community that we can all be proud of.”

One thing he is particularly proud of accomplishing in his third term, however, is in the downtown area: the beautification of Old Mill Creek.

The polluted creek winds through the west side of lower Port, including under Barnum Avenue and behind Village Hall, before flowing into the harbor. In addition to being contaminated by chemicals that had been dumped at an industrial site in Port Jefferson Station and had traveled through the groundwater, it was plagued by invasive plant species. But in the last year, the village put a plan into action to clean up the creek, improve its flow and remove the invasive species and replace them with native ones.

Another project he is proud of is using money left over in last year’s budget to pave additional streets in the part of the village referred to as the “poets section,” which includes Emerson Street, Longfellow Lane, Hawthorne Street and others.

“Every time we can put some money into the infrastructure, we’re doing something that’s going to last for a while; that’s going to make a difference,” D’Abramo said.

To the voters going to the polls later this month, the trustee said, “If they’re interested in seeing upper Port Jefferson change, then consider voting for me.”

Voting is at the Port Jefferson Village Center on June 21, from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. There is also a village judge seat on the ballot, to complete the three years remaining on the term of Justice Peter Graham, who died in office in October, a few months after being re-elected. Graham, who was known for his colorful personality, had served the village for more than 30 years.

Bill Glass was appointed to replace him in the interim, and the lawyer is running for election to stay in that role. He faces challenges from Tara Higgins and Scott Zamek.

By Victoria Espinoza

In the Northport-East Northport school district, change is coming.

Residents approved a $161 million budget on Tuesday night with 2,568 votes in favor to 687 against, ousted an incumbent from the school board and reduced the number of board of education members from nine to seven. The district clerk’s office said the latter change will go into effect next year. Trustees Regina Pisacani, Donna McNaughton and Jennifer Thompson will all be up for re-election next year, but only one of their three seats will be open.

Shawne Albero, left, hugs Allison Noonan after results are announced. Residents voted in Noonan but not Albero. Photo by Victoria Espinoza
Shawne Albero, left, hugs Allison Noonan after results are announced. Residents voted in Noonan but not Albero. Photo by Victoria Espinoza

Northport’s budget stayed within the 0.55 percent tax levy cap, and a separate proposition for $2 million in capital improvements, which was approved with 2,848 to 390 votes, will include many athletic facility upgrades for the coming year, including a new gym ceiling and field repairs.

Board President Andrew Rapiejko did not support the reduction in board members.

“It was not a board-supported proposition,” he said. “I think nine members is more representation. It’s a very large district and if you look at even right now, we just have one board member who’s from East Northport out of nine people.”

Armand D’Accordo, a member of the United Taxpayers of Northport-East Northport, the group that introduced the idea for a smaller board, said he was pleased with the results.

“Clearly the nine-person board was not getting the job done,” he said. “Now we have an opportunity to break up the majority of incumbents that have been on the board for too long and get more independent and objective members. Most importantly, fewer members will provide more effective governance over the district and improve academic outcomes.”

Rapiejko and Trustee Lori McCue were both voted in for another term with 1,984 votes and 1,560 votes, respectively.

“I’m very grateful for the people who came out and supported me,” McCue said. She looks forward to finishing an energy performance contract with the district that aims to make it more energy-efficient.

Northport resident Allison Noonan came in first for the night, with 2,039 votes, and said she felt grateful and humbled by the results, and is excited to add a fresh voice and a fresh perspective to the board.

Incumbent Julia Binger came in fourth 1,543 votes and Shawne Albero collected 1,410 votes, so both fell shy in their bids for the board.

Superintendent Diana Todaro and Assistant Superintendent Francesco Ianni were both delighted the budget passed. File photo

Tuesday night was a success for school districts in the Huntington area, with all budgets approved, including Harborfields’ cap-piercing $82.8 million budget.

Throughout budget season, Assistant Superintendent for Administration and Human Resources Franceso Ianni had presented the board with several options for the 2016-17 budget. Some stayed within the 0.37 percent state–mandated tax levy cap, but did not offer programs the community had been asking for, like full-day kindergarten. Others included such programs but went above and beyond the cap. After much debate, the board adopted a nearly $83 million budget with a cap-busting 1.52 percent increase to the tax levy.

Among the costs in the budget are $600,000 for full-day kindergarten, $70,000 for a BOCES cultural arts program, $52,000 for a third-grade orchestra program and $120,000 for an additional special education teacher and two teaching assistants.

Harborfields residents have been vocal about wanting full-day kindergarten on the budget and one group, Fair Start: Harborfields Residents for Full-Day Kindergarten, traveled to Albany to seek help from state legislators on making it possible.

Rachael Risinger, a member of Fair Start, said she and the organization are elated to see a budget pass with full-day kindergarten on the menu.

“We are extremely thankful the Harborfields community came together to pass this year’s school budget,” she said in an email. “Kindergarten orientation was this week and we’ve heard from so many parents how excited their young kids are to go to full-day kindergarten starting in September. Now they will have the same fair start as every kindergarten student on Long Island.”

The district needed a 60 percent supermajority to override the cap in its budget, and with 2,099 votes in favor and 1,017 votes against, the supermajority was achieved.

Superintendent Diana Todaro said she is pleased with the outcome.

“It’s a budget that supports and meets the needs of all of our children, from kindergarten through the high school,” she said. “We just want to thank our community, parents, staff members and especially the board of education who supported us throughout this entire process.”

Ianni, who will be taking over for Todaro in 2017 as superintendent, said he is excited to work with the programs in this budget next year. “I’m very exited and pleased for the students and the community, [for] all the programs that we’re going to have,” he said. “I’m really excited [to go] into the new school year as the new superintendent in January, [with] these kinds of programs in place.”

Incumbent Hansen Lee and newcomer Colleen Wolcott were also voted in as school board members for the upcoming year, with 1,569 and 1,301 votes, respectively.

“I am extremely excited about the passing of this historic budget, and how the community came together for all of our kids,” Lee said. “[And] I am excited about my second term and [am] looking forward to more exciting things to come at Harborfields.”

Wolcott said she is eager to get started.

“I’m very excited to serve my community more than I have already been doing,” she said. “It is my honor. I’m excited to have a voice on the board of education and to work collaboratively with the district to make it better than it already is.”

Challengers Chris Kelly (1,001 votes), Marge Acosta (992 votes) and Joseph Savaglio (571 votes) fell short in their own bids.

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.

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By Alex Petroski

Election night for the Smithtown board of education is approaching quickly.

The Suffolk Region PTA introduced Smithtown residents to five board of education candidates at the district’s Meet the Candidates night Wednesday, May 4, at the district headquarters on New York Avenue.

The terms of Smithtown school board trustees Theresa Knox and Louis Liguori conclude this year. Knox, who served on the board from 2000 to 2006 then again from 2007 to the present, will run for another term; Liguori was first elected in 2006 and will not seek a fourth term.

Michael Saidens photo by Alex Petroski
Michael Saidens photo by Alex Petroski

Elementary school principal Michael Saidens with director of finance of a Fortune 500-associated company, Robert Montana, and retired resident and active school community member Robert Foster will run for Liguori’s seat. Carpenter and father of four Accompsett Elementary students, Daniel Lynch, will challenge Knox.

During last week’s event, the candidates were allotted a three-minute opening statement, two-minute closing statement and one-minute responses to several questions provided by audience members.

Knox has been a Smithtown resident since 1987. Her three children attended Smithtown schools. She attended Stony Brook University and later worked for Citibank on Wall Street. She served as the PTA president at Nesconset Elementary School in 1990 and held a similar position in Smithtown High School in 1998. She said as a board member she’s served on every board of education committee possible, and has focused on college scholarships during her time on the board.

“College scholarship has become a mission,” Knox said May 4. “Any of you who know me for more than 20 minutes know that is my mission.”

Theresa Knox photo by Alex Petroski
Theresa Knox photo by Alex Petroski

Knox voted for the closure of Branch Brook Elementary School earlier in 2016, though she called it one of the hardest decisions she’s ever had to make. Knox explained why she’s running again, despite the fact that her friends think she’s crazy, she said.

“I think it’s the best place for me to use my talents to make a positive impact on the community,” Knox said.

Knox’s competitor, Lynch, said he is a lifelong resident of Smithtown. He grew up in Nesconset and attended multiple Smithtown schools, including High School West. He said after he graduated high school he put his passion for construction and talent working with his hands toward a career building homes for several different companies. Today he holds a leadership role with the Northeast Regional Council of Carpenters union. He and his wife rented their first apartment in St. James, though they now live with their four sons in Smithtown.

“I want to be involved and address the issues that face my children today and all of your children as well,” he said about his reasons for running. “I offer perspective and an open mind, and I understand that I may be the new kid on the block but if elected I will absolutely commit to understanding and addressing all of these issues.”

Robert Foster photo by Alex Petroski
Robert Foster photo by Alex Petroski

Foster has lived in Smithtown for 27 years. His two children also attended Smithtown schools and have gone on to successful business careers after college, he said. Foster attended the C.W. Post campus of Long Island University, and then went on to the military after graduation. He spent a long career in marketing and sales and has since retired. He was a member of the last housing committee conducted in 2015, which ultimately provided data used in the decision to close Branch Brook. He has been an adviser to robotics teams in the district and has attended school board meetings for the past seven years.

“By not having children in the district, I really care about all 9,000 students,” Foster said. “They need a quality education. A quality education can only come from a district that is in balance financially. Unfortunately this district is starting to get unbalanced.”

Foster said a lack of too many other obligations, like a job or a family to raise, makes him an ideal candidate.

“I have time to spend on what is a very complicated job being on the school board,” he said.

Robert Montana photo by Alex Petroski
Robert Montana photo by Alex Petroski

Montana also grew up in Smithtown. He currently has two children in the district, including one at Branch Brook. He is currently a financial analyst at Clintrak Clinical Labeling Services, where he is responsible for budgeting and financial planning. Montana said his business background would serve him well during Smithtown’s tough financial times which might lie ahead.

“I think that experience will be an asset to the board and to the school district,” he said. “My main issue is the declining enrollment. It definitely directly affects my family because we are Branch Brook people so we’re facing a school closing in the next year. I just want to be a part of the decision-making process.”

Montana and Foster both suggested that the school board going forward looks for a way to reduce contracted commitments to teachers in the district, which is an expense that accounts for the vast majority of the district’s budget.

Daniel Lynch photo by Alex Petroski
Daniel Lynch photo by Alex Petroski

Saidens is currently the principal at Tamarac Elementary School in the Sachem School District. Sachem is encountering a financial crisis of their own, with multiple schools set to close in the coming years. Saidens, the Smithtown resident who also taught elementary school in the district and sends his 6-year-old son to Tackan Elementary School, said his perspective witnessing the financial stress in Sachem could be helpful for Smithtown. He has a business management degree from Clemson University to go along with his education background.

“The No. 1 issue that makes me want to run for the board of education is helping to ensure that students are getting the best practices in our classrooms,” Saidens said. “Another concern that I have is making sure Long Island, specifically Smithtown, starts getting what they deserve. The amount of money that we send from this community up to Albany and the return that we get back isn’t equitable, and Smithtown needs their fair share.”

Superintendent Robert Banzer speaks about the three propositions on the ballot for next week’s budget vote at last Thursday’s board meeting. Photo by Victoria Espinoza

Northport-East Northport residents must support or deny three major proposals next week: a $161 million budget,  $2 million in capital improvements, and reducing the amount of board members from nine to seven.

The 2016-17 budget includes an American sign language elective at Northport High School, an elementary special education program and the purchase of a new school bus.

“This really emphasizes what this budget and what this school is all about,” Vice President David Badanes said at the May 5 meeting. “At the end of the day, it’s about students — there are students who are great in robotics, students who are great in music, students who are great in foreign languages. From A to Z, students in this district continue to shine.”

Northport proposes collecting $140.9 million in taxes, a 0.55 percent increase to the tax levy from last year’s budget, which will raise the average home’s taxes assessed at $3,800 an additional $56.40. This budget meets the state-mandated tax levy cap of 0.55 percent.

The second $2 million proposition on the ballot includes boiler replacements and a new gym ceiling at Northport Middle School, with funds taken from the 2008 general construction/electromechanical capital reserve and the 2012 capital reserve fund.

The district’s Athletic Facilities Citizens Advisory Committee first introduced many of the capital projects in a presentation led by trustee Regina Pisacani last December, after the committee conducted tours of the district’s facilities to see what improvements were needed.

Members of the United Taxpayers of Northport-East Northport presented a petition at a school board meeting last June, with more than 300 signatures, asking for the board size to go down by two members.

Armand D’Accordo, a member of the United Taxpayers of Northport-East Northport who presented the petition at that meeting, said he’s seen a number of issues with the current board size.

“I have gotten the sense at board meetings, both through watching and interacting, that it seems a bit dysfunctional, due to the makeup of how many members and how long they’ve been around,” D’Accordo said.

According to the district clerk’s office, if the proposition passes, it will go into effect in next year’s election. Trustees Pisacani, Donna McNaughton and Jennifer Thompson will all be up for re-election next year, and only one of the three seats would be open.

Board members have said they disagree with the proposal, arguing that a larger board size means more representation for the district.

“I’ve always liked the idea that the community has this degree of representation with nine members,” trustee Julia Binger said in a phone interview.

Trustee Lori McCue echoed her sentiment: “The downside for the community is a lack of representation,” McCue said in a phone interview. “I don’t feel this would benefit the community.”

The Northport-East Northport budget vote will be held from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. next Tuesday, May 17 at Dickinson Avenue Elementary School, Fifth Avenue Elementary School and the William J. Brosnan Building.

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.