Thursday, 05 June 2014 12:51
On February 10th, over 500 concerned citizens packed the Island Trees High School auditorium to voice their concerns and their anger at the notion that someone would dare to attempt to sell school property including a building dedicated to a Medal of Honor recipient. American Hero Lt. Stephen E. Karopczyc was first wounded in action and later that same day killed in action in Vietnam 47 years ago. That building was dedicated on Flag Day, June 14, 1969. Was the Karopczyc family contacted by the district and told that their son’s school would be razed? Of course not.
At that February meeting, we were assured that this notion was in its infancy stage. What we weren’t told that night was that an appraiser, a realtor, and an attorney, all with strong political ties to one another, had already been hired by February 10th. The Huntington Three was assembled and this community was none the wiser...not yet. Many have said that this Farmedge Property Proposal was ill-conceived from the outset and destined to fail. Others feared that this troika would succeed in redesigning Island Trees. The February 10th forum and its aftermath was the precursor to May 20th’s results.
On May 20th, the Island Trees voting community turned out in record numbers to have their voices heard. Three incumbents were swept out of office by three challengers in what can only be described as a landslide. Had all seven incumbents been up for reelection, there is a good chance that seven new board members would be taking their oaths of office during this July’s reorganization meeting. This community wanted accountability. This proud community hit the reset button on Election Day...well, at least partially.
It is a foregone conclusion that, just as Carlo had to answer for Santino, Island Trees Board of Education incumbents will face stiff challenges next May and the May after that.That will be the true referendum on the decisions they made and votes they cast during these trying times. Voters will again have the chance to have their voices heard. During healthy and spirited political debates, incumbents will get a chance to defend and explain their votes and challengers can lay out their vision for the future. Then, the voters will decide who stays and who goes. That is democracy at work. That takes care of the political science lecture.
Two administrators played leading roles in this debacle, spearheading this campaign which caused such a conflagration in our community and cost three incumbents their seats. These administrators were never elected. They were selected. Island Trees voters will never get a chance to go to the polls and weigh in on their standing in the district. One can only speculate as to the outcome had their names appeared on a ballot on May 20th. One thing is certain. Voters summarily rejected this property proposal which was originally proffered by these administrators. This was their brainchild. They assembled the Huntington Three. They polled 70 people. May 20th’s election polled over 1,600. The three trustee-elects and 73 percent of Island Trees voters diametrically oppose the proposal. How can both camps co-exist? They cannot. After careful consideration and after months of research and conversations with all involved, most importantly my neighbors, I called for the resignation of Island Trees Superintendent of Schools Charles Murphy and the Assistant Superintendent for Business Susan Hlavenka during the May 21st school board meeting. I did that with a heavy heart but I stand by those words. The district and the community needs to heal. By a 73-27 margin, voices were heard. 500 showed up on February 10th. No one listened. Over 1,100 showed up on May 20th and now they have to. This ship needs to be steered in the right direction, but first the water needs to be put back in those pipes, the oil needs to be put back in that burner, and a new captain needs to be at that wheel. Full steam ahead! Don’t forget to polish up those SCHOOL FOR RENT signs. We’ll need them now.
Island Trees Taxpayer