Commack School District Board of Education has two seats up for grabs with incumbent Susan Hermer and Mike Weisberg running for one position. As for the second seat, incumbent William Hender is running unopposed.
Voting will be done through ballots mailed to residents, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and are due back to the district by June 9.
Last year, Hermer beat out Jennifer Scully for a one-year term after the resignation of former board member Jennifer Carpenter.
The attorney, with a general practice firm in Bohemia, said being on the board has been fulfilling for her.
“I am running for my first full term because I enjoy being on the board advocating for our students and teachers,” she said. “And all members of this board get along and respect each other. I love our kids and the school district, and I relish being back in the schools since I no longer have kids in the district.”
She said she is concerned that some programs may need to be cut from the budget due to the reduction in state aid.
“I also want to make sure our special-needs students get all the help they need,” she said. “I am happy with the lease we worked out with Long Island University and the Marion Carll property, and I am pleased with the capital projects bond we recently passed.”
Last year the district worked out a deal with LIU for the educational institution to use the Marion Carll Farm, which was left to the district decades ago and fell into disrepair as it became difficult to keep up with the expenses to maintain the property.
A lifelong resident of Commack and school psychologist in a neighboring district, Weisberg said he believes his professional experience, as well as being a parent and working in a school district, will be an asset to the trustee position.
He said with the stress and uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic, he feels there will be an increased need to support students socially and emotionally. He added he believes there will be more issues regarding the negative effects of an overdigitalized world.
“Now we’re dealing with a global crisis, with an emphasis on social learning,” he said. “I really believe even before we got into this pandemic, we were seeing an increased need in dealing with this overdigitalization.”
Weisberg had originally planned to run last year, and said he postponed his candidacy to become more involved in committee work in the district. He said his main concerns are maintaining the programs and the number of classes currently offered in the district.
“Commack has done a great job of providing a lot of that,” he said. “I would really like to do whatever we can to maintain that diversity, because educating a student is much more than teaching math equations or learning a specific skill. It’s really about helping children to develop into their full potential as adults, and schools really play a vital role in that.”
This will be the second term on the board for Hender. He said he brings an “important and necessary skill set to the position.”
“Having spent the past 20 years in education, as a teacher and administrator, I have a good understanding of what is necessary to continue to provide access and opportunity for all our students,” he said. “I think we have developed a great team here in Commack and I am happy to be part of it. I am a product of the Commack School system and attribute many of my successes to the education that I received. I want all students, including my own children, to have the same wonderful experiences for years to come.”
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Hender said he had no concerns regarding the budget. “However, now I have many concerns, such as will the governor continue to make cuts to school aid throughout the year, and if so, how much?” he said. “In addition, I am concerned about what changes in programs and cuts we will need to make once the actual cut in state aid is announced.”