Written by Victoria Caruso-Davis Thursday, 14 May 2009 17:13
Hicksville School District residents will take to the polls Tuesday, May 19 to vote for proposed $110,943,748 spending plan as well as elect two trustees to the school board. This year, the seats held by current trustees Anthony Edelman and Joanne Owens are up for re-election. Edelman is running unopposed and Owens is being challenged by Maureen Lee; trustee terms on the Hicksville Board of Education are three years.
The Hicksville Illustrated News reached out to Edelman, Lee and Owens. Profiles are as follows:
Anthony Edelman, current secretary of the Hicksville Board of Education, is seeking re-election to his second term unopposed. Edelman, whose daughter is a junior at Hicksville High School, has nearly 30 years of business experience, including 10 years with the U.S. Navy and leadership positions within JP Morgan Chase and Bethpage Federal Credit Union, where he currently is assistant vice president for purchasing, facilities and branch construction.
Locally, Edelman, a resident of Hicksville for 19 years, is a member of the Knights of Columbus, a cantor at Our Lady of Mercy Church, a member of the Girl Scouts of Nassau County Board of Directors and a community emergency response team member with the Nassau County Office of Emergency Management. He is a former trustee with the Hicksville Public Library Board, was a mentor for Project Grad – Roosevelt, a member of the National Association of Purchasing Managers Board of Directors- LI Region and past president of the Bethpage Federal Credit Union Scholarship Foundation.
According to Edelman, “the changing population demographic and the resulting needs of a diverse community, effects of the recession and unfunded mandates continue to be top priorities” within the Hicksville School District today.
If re-elected, Edelman said goals of his second term include continuing to “work collaboratively with other members of the board, central administration, residents and other elected state and federal representatives to ensure that the economic resources of Hicksville are efficiently utilized.” He added, “We must continue our ongoing efforts to reclaim our fair share of taxes paid to the State and eliminate unfunded mandates not only for Hicksville, but for all Long Island school districts. We need to continue to offer programs and opportunities to students that are challenging and relevant.”
In regard to today’s rising taxes and the impact on local education, Edelman believes it is even more “imperative to sustain our efforts to aggressively manage expenses while continuing to provide our students with a superior education.”
When asked what, if anything, he would like to see changed in the school district, Edelman said he would like to see “greater attendance by community members at our board, committee and budget meetings” as well as a “greater public awareness of the achievements of our student body, faculty, and administration.” The Hicksville School District, said Edelman, “has a great story to tell.”
Edelman said his professional experience and community involvement make him the candidate of choice. “My past experience on the board and over 29 years of proven success serving communities, not for profits, business and civic organizations in various leadership capacities have prepared me with the ability to rationally assess issues, cognitively develop strategies, and have the conviction to render unbiased reasoning that is in the best interest of all constituents,” he said, adding, “Residents should vote for me because I am unbiased, ethical and fair.”
Maureen Lee, a resident for 38 years, was involved with the PTA and St. Ignatius CYO, up until her husband’s death in 1982. At this time, the mother of three said she turned her attention to raising her children and obtaining full-time employment, which included 22 years with the Hicksville School District’s Facilities Department prior to retiring in August 2006. Her three daughters attended elementary, middle and high school in Hicksville and, today, her grandchildren attend the Woodland Elementary School.
Lee said that, if elected to the board, she would work to ensure that the district is more fiscally responsible. “The first issue that comes to mind is the economy. As with our household budgets, the district needs to set priorities as to areas where the taxpayers’ money will be spent,” said Lee. “I believe there should be more fiscal accountability as to spending of taxpayers’ money. Emphasis should be placed on eliminating non-essential items. ”
Additionally, Lee said the Hicksville Board of Education “needs to make sure that recommendations regarding credit cards and purchasing procedures made by the New York State Comptrollers Report and implemented by the district are being followed.” These issues, said Lee, are achievable by “seeking ways to place tighter controls on district’s checks and balances procedures.”
Also among her goals is increasing community involvement. “Community participation appears to be low and ways for getting people involved should be encouraged,” said Lee, who suggests utilizing the school “district’s website and/or the Hicksville Illustrated News to assist in this endeavor.”
If elected, Lee said she would work to have test scores improved. “Research should be done into the techniques and programs used to educate our students,” she said. “If the programs being used today are inadequate, then we must look for ways to amend them or look for new programs to replace the old.” She also believes Hicksville needs to look into ways to attract more students to participate in many after-school programs offered by the district.
Today’s rising taxes, said Lee, have created problems for the average homeowner and issues for the school district. “Like homeowners struggling to do more with less, the school district faces the same problems. Increased spending on the basic essentials such as utilities, etc. indicates the school district will have to tighten their budgets and come up with strategies to make sure the overall education of the student is not negatively impacted,” she said.
The candidate would also like to see a decision made regarding the district’s unoccupied Willet Avenue School. “Taxpayers still pay to maintain the lawn and landscaping of this building as well as snow removal. If there are problems within the building, repairs are also made at taxpayer’s expense,” Lee said. “I think it is time for a decision to be made on what the district proposes to do with this property.
As a member of the board, Lee promises to serve as a “voice of the residents.” She said, “I have listened to concerns of parents with regard to their children’s education and also to concerns from residents without school age children. I am an independent thinker who will listen with an open mind and take into consideration the concerns of the students, teachers and community.”
Lee said she is the candidate of choice because she has “the knowledge of the inner-workings of the school district and believe this experience will assist me in making decisions that will benefit the students, teachers and residents of our community.”
Joanne Owens, a resident for 23 years, is seeking re-election to the Hicksville Board of Education. In 2005, Owens was appointed to the board mid-term to fill a vacancy and, in 2006, she was elected to a full, three-year time. She is currently treasurer and a council delegate for the district’s Special Education Parent-Teacher Association (SEPTA). Owens, whose youngest child attends Hicksville High School, is also involved with the Hicksville High School Parent-Teacher Association (PTA), the Hicksville Council of PTAs and is a member of the Hicksville Gardens Civic Association, the Hicksville Community Council and a council delegate with the Hicksville Association of Girl Scouts. She is a two-time Hicksville School District Founders Day honoree and was the recipient of a New York School Boards Association Developmental Achievement Citation. Owens and her husband, Jim, own Owens Electrical, a Hicksville-based electrical contracting business.
Owens said that, if re-elected to the Hicksville Board of Education, “continuing to advocate for sufficient funding; continuing to bring forward programs that challenge district children; and continuing to work on cost saving measures to keep future budgets as low as possible” are ranked tops on her “to do” list.
As a member of the school board, Owens said she would like to see more done to help the community’s grouping English as a Second Language (ESL) and high needs populations. “We need to continue to work on getting the needed funding to meet their needs and at the same time we need to continue to challenge the students with rigorous and high quality programs,” Owens said.
Today’s rising taxes, said the school board trustee, are a problem not just for Hicksville residents but for all Long Islanders. “Until the state and federal government fund the mandates put on us we have little control on this issue,” she said. “The unfunded mandates coupled with the shift to burden the property tax with additional increases, for example the ‘MTA tax,’ school districts are unfairly bearing the brunt of the frustration of the taxpayers.”
When asked if there is anything she would like to see change as a member of the board, Owens said, “One of the important issues we face is balancing the needs of our children with the concerns and burdens of our taxpayers in these uncertain economic times. We need to continue to address the unfunded mandates placed on our schools and address the need for Long Island to get their ‘fair share of state aid.’”
According to Owens, she is the candidate of choice because she has four years of experience as a trustee. “In that time I’ve continually strived to educate myself by attending governess, fiscal and law conferences,” she told the Hicksville Illustrated News. “I take my fiduciary responsibilities seriously and continue to attend conferences to educate myself. I’ve managed a company for over 20 years while raising my three children. I’ve been involved with the schools since 1994 and I attended [board of education] meetings for five years before becoming a trustee.”
She added, “My experience coupled with my continued involvement in the community such as Girl Scouts, [the] PTAs and community groups makes me the best candidate.”