Election for board of education trustee positions in the Farmingdale School District will be held on Tuesday, May 16 from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. at Howitt Middle School. Current Trustees Dr. Philip J. Acinapuro and Robert Guarino, Jr. are not seeking reelection. Incumbent Shari Bardash-Eivers and challengers William Meilink, Rick Morrison and Kathy Lively are competing for three open seats on the board. All terms on the Farmingdale Board of Education are for three years. The candidates are listed in alphabetical order.
Shari Bardash-Eivers, 42, has served on the board for the past eight months after being appointed to the position following former Trustee Anthony Vitale's resignation.
"I have thoroughly enjoyed the past eight months since I was appointed to the board," she said. "I finally feel like the learning curve is getting shorter and now I can work towards finishing what we started."
Bardash-Eivers said several issues within the school district are "reaching a critical state."
"Our aging facilities are in desperate need of updating and renovation, but there is a lack of community support for funding through bonds," she added. "This forces repairs on an emergency basis which tends to be less cost-effective. The inability to pass a bond referendum, a much more efficient use of funds, indicates a lack of trust from within the community, coupled with the desire to keep taxes status quo, at best. This leads to the next important issue of receiving our fair share of state aid, which would, in essence, affect the tax base. Farmingdale's tax rate is high because we lack substantial commercial property coupled with high assessed house values. If we could work towards a more equitable distribution of state aid throughout New York, Nassau County, and, in turn, Farmingdale, would receive a higher percentage of state aid, which could then be used to lower the tax levy."
In addition to her Girl Scouts and PTA involvement with both Howitt and Saltzman, Bardash-Eivers serves as a classroom representative for both her daughters and participates in the Breakfast Reading Club where she reads to a second-grade class on Monday mornings. She is also an adult supervisor for her daughter's soccer team, the Farmingdale Cyclones.
Bardash-Eivers received a bachelor's degree from SUNY Albany and MBA from Syracuse University. She currently manages the office of a family-run business and is a homemaker. She and her husband Michael live in Farmingdale and have two children, Haley and Ellyn.
Kathy Lively, 48, said she is seeking election to the board because she cares. An active member of the Farmingdale community, Lively believes "it takes a community to raise a child and that we all have to work together to do so."
"The board is our representative and I believe that communication and trust among the board, administration, teachers, staff and the community is essential for the benefit of all," she added.
To Lively, the most important issue facing the Farmingdale School District is "being able to successfully produce a school budget that is educationally sound and fiscally responsible."
"I would carefully examine expenditures to see that our tax dollars are being spent wisely. The budget must be affordable to the community since their support is essential. I believe we should continually review and assess curriculum and programs to determine their value and to ensure that the needs of all our children are being adequately met. Our children must have the opportunity to be able to achieve their fullest potential to meet the demands of our society now and in the future. We also have to make sure that our facilities are adequately maintained and refurbished, as they are the assets of our community. We all have to work together."
Lively has held executive committee and board positions of the Woodward Parkway PTA for 12 years, Howitt Middle School PTA for four years and Farmingdale High School PTA for four years. She is also a recipient of the New York State Honorary Life Award. Additionally, she currently serves as executive vice president of the Farmingdale Youth Council, the commissioner and past director and former coach for Farmingdale PAL girls softball, St. Kilian CYO girls basketball coach and former Junior Girl Scout leader.
A former legal secretary with an Intensive Legal Secretary degree, Lively is currently a homemaker. She and her husband, Joseph have three children; Shannon, Brianna and Patrick.
Farmingdale resident William Meilink, 53, is also seeking election to the Farmingdale Board of Education. He said he views this as an opportunity to continue his involvement with the community of Farmingdale.
"I can bring expertise to the board of education through my years of experience as a project manager with Nassau County and volunteer in Farmingdale," he added.
Through the years, Meilink has been involved with various community organizations. A member of the Farmingdale Youth Council for 14 years, he currently serves as the organization's president. He also is co-chairperson of the school district's Facilities Advisory Committee. In the past Meilink has coached Farmingdale soccer and PAL basketball.
As for his concerns within the Farmingdale School District, Meilink said "maintain the educational integrity of the district at a cost that the community can afford by trying to secure additional funding from the State of New York" are top priority.
He also added that he is interested in "trying to get the additional input from the community to the board of education on their views and needs for the school district."
Meilink received a degree from Nassau Community College and currently is a civil engineer for the County of Nassau, Department of Public Works. He and his wife Joan have two sons; Keith and Richard. Keith attends Binghamton University, while Richard is a student at Farmingdale High School.
Rick Morrison, 51, a Farmingdale resident said he believes his career experience can aid with issues facing the Farmingdale School District.
"I believe that I can bring my over 20 years of experience in construction and communications to this school district, which needs to deal with its deteriorating facilities which impacts our taxes and our children's learning environment," he added.
Morrison said it is this disrepair of the facilities which impacts taxes and the learning environment.
"We are using out-of-date equipment which is inefficient and therefore costs us more money to run," he said. "The learning environment and our teachers' working conditions [boilers, floors, windows and lighting] should not be the everyday concern which we now have."
If elected, Morrision said he would strive to put more pressure on local representatives "for them to accurately represent our needs."
"We need more equitable compensation from New York State for our tax dollars," he added.
Morrison's involvement in the local community includes being a Northside Shared Decision Making committee member, Northside, Howitt and SEPTA PTA member, Farmingdale Facilities Advisory Committee member, Hardscrabble Association board member, Sunday school teacher and vestry member at St. Thomas Episcopal Church and a Delegate in Hardscrabble Association of Girl Scouts.
He currently works as a telecommunications installation manager. Morrison and his wife Terri have two daughters; one attending Northside Elementary School and the other at Howitt Middle School.