Three Comsewogue Board of Education seats are up for election this year, but voters who hit the polls on May 19 won’t have a large selection — with Trustee Ed Barry stepping aside, there are only as many candidates as there are slots available.
Barry, a nine-year veteran, said he wants to give others a chance to fill the position he has loved holding.
“It really has been a great experience,” Barry said. “I may consider running again down the road.”
Board President John Swenning has served since 2002 and is running for another term on the board. The Comsewogue graduate said his time with the board has been great, which is why he is running again.
The father of four — one child at Comsewogue High School and three who have already graduated — said he enjoys working with administrators, teachers, parents and students.
“I just like what I do,” Swenning said. “We’ve really made some serious progress in the first few years and I want to keep it going.”
One of the things Swenning would like to see through is the accreditation from the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools that the district applied for last year. The district is undergoing a three-year internal review on the road to receiving the nonprofit’s designation, given to high-performing institutions worldwide.
The board president also wants to restore programs that were cut in recent years to balance budgets.
Rick Rennard just finished his first year on the board, completing the term of a former trustee who moved out of the district.
“This one-year experience that I’ve had so far has been so positive,” he said. “I want to continue.”
He said he would like to finish some things the board started this year, such as the accreditation process. He echoed Swenning in saying he wants to restore academic programs.
He also “would like to continue to speak out on behalf of the district to our legislators to get our fair share of funding,” Rennard said. “I will fight for the district.”
The father of three children, 11-year-old Emma, 9-year-old Rickey and 7-year-old Brendan, and a social studies teacher at Newfield High School, he’s been living in the community for almost 11 years.
A newcomer, Louise Melious, has decided to run for trustee after years of being on the fence about serving.
“I think I have something to offer and I certainly hope the community can give me this honor,” Melious said.
She has been following the issue of students opting out of taking the state’s standardized tests, she said, and while her children, 18-year-old Victoria and 16-year-old Matthew, are past that testing stage, she would advocate on behalf of other students. She said she feels the testing system is wrong.
If elected, she would like to work on tax relief for older residents, expand district sports programs, and restore other programs that were cut in previous budgets.
“If given this opportunity, I would change what I do and be more involved,” Melious said.