Tags Posts tagged with "Miller Place BOE"

Miller Place BOE

The Miller Place and Rocky Point school districts saw community members come out with enormous support for each of the 2017-18 budgets.

In Miller Place, voters passed the $126.2 million spending plan 763 to 162.

“On behalf of the board, we thank the community for supporting our proposed budget with a passing margin of 82 percent for the second year in a row,” Miller Place Superintendent Marianne Cartisano said. “We look forward to partnering with the community to provide relevant and challenging instructional and noninstructional opportunities to our students, while supporting our staff, and maintaining fiscal sustainability.”

With no challengers, Lisa Reitan and Richard Panico were elected with 726 and 709 votes, respectively. Other write-in candidates totaled 23 votes.

“I’m very happy and honored to continue to serve for the next three years,” Reitan said in an email. “This board has worked so well together that now we can continue on without skipping a beat. I look forward to continue working with the administration and staff here to make Miller Place school district better everyday.”

Rocky Point school district will hold a technology meeting Jan. 26 to gain public input on the preliminary Smart Schools Bond Act spending plan and how to spend leftover funds. File photo by Desirée Keegan

In Rocky Point residents approved the $83,286,346 budget with 663 yes votes and 246 no’s. The district also sought voter approval to access $3,385,965 from its capital reserve fund in order to complete facility renovations across the district. For that proposal, 600 voted for and 312 against.

“We are extremely grateful for the community’s support of our proposed budget and capital improvement plan,” Rocky Point Superintendent Michael Ring said. “The educational enhancements included in this budget are ones that we believe will further support the needs of Rocky Point students while also providing them with opportunities to succeed at even greater levels, while still maintaining our commitment to fiscal responsibility.”

Incumbent board of education member Sean Callahan and newcomer Joseph Coniglione, who is the principal of Comsewogue High school, were elected with 713 and 641 votes, respectively.

“I’m honored that the people had confidence in me,” Callahan said. “We’re just trying to continue to communicate with the community, continue what we’ve done and have a more open dialogue. It’s not about me, it’s about what we can do for them.”

Coniglione has two kids in the community, and another on the way.

“I just really want to make sure it’s a wonderful district,” he said. “Rocky Point is already wonderful, and I hope to be a great part in continuing that.”

He said juggling two positions won’t be too much of a challenge, especially with support from the Comsewogue school district, and he’s also hoping to keep the communication lines open.

“I work in a district that’s very, very accommodating — they believe in education not just for their kids but for any community,” he said. “I think [this board] will be a nice team. We’ll collaborate to make good, healthy decisions for kids. We want to make sure we have their best interests in mind.”

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.”

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.