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Rocky Point BOE

File photo

By Chris Cumella

Michael Lisa is looking forward to serving on the Rocky Point Board of Education after running unopposed.

Along with incumbent Edward Casswell, Lisa plans to claim two open seats on the trustee’s board on May 18 after what will be a landslide victory for both candidates.

Caswell did not respond to a request for a conversation from TBR.

Working in the Massapequa school district for over 23 years, Lisa is a high school social studies teacher, but yearns to partake in a larger conversation about the future of education. 

His unique experiences garnered over two decades of being an educator is what Lisa believes will make him a benefit to the district upon election.

“I have aspired to become a member of the board,” Lisa said. “I’m ready to represent the Rocky Point community members in any way which I can.”

While managing projects on the technology committee for the Rocky Point School District, Lisa said that he had seen firsthand what has worked and what has not when it comes to tech in education. 

Remote learning is a hurdle that Lisa said must be overcome by providing a safer, cleaner in-person learning environment for students and staff to return to in the fall.

Within his classes, Lisa noticed a decline in classroom productivity resulting from remote learning, a compromise that has proven safe yet challenging for many in the school district.

“If we do get back to a sense of normalcy, of course, there will be some difficulty transitioning back,” Lisa said. “This social isolation has brought a great deal of anxiety among students. Not being in person, no real interaction with your classmates, it’s a struggle to reach many of these learners remaining at home.”

Further collaboration with teachers, members of the board, teachers, and students — Lisa is advocating for continuously collecting input from the Rocky Point community to reflect on what is working in their system and what must change. 

Lisa has analyzed the school district from various perspectives as a teacher, a community member and a father. 

Now he is taking the initiative to give back to his community by providing an optimal in-person educational experience for the youth of Rocky Point.

“I’m looking forward to engaging with our students and others to bring back this sense of normalcy that we all need for our wellbeing,” he said.

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.”