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Five Candidates Vie For Two BOE Seats

The Massapequa School District will hold board of education elections on Tuesday, May 15. The following are profiles of the BOE candidates. Five candidates are running for two contested BOE seats.

Maryanne Fisher

Maryanne Fisher is running for re-election to the Massapequa School Board. She issued the following information on her candidacy.

“I have lived in Massapequa for over 55 years with my husband Peter,” she said. “My two children went through and graduated from the Massapequa public schools. After graduation both continued their education and graduated from a four-year program from SUNY-Albany and John Jay College of Criminal Justice.  I am also a 1973 graduate of Massapequa High School.  I also received a Bachelor of Arts from C.W. Post campus of Long Island University in Brookville.

“My family started the move from Brooklyn to Massapequa in 1938. I am very lucky to also have many of my family still living in Massapequa. The last count was approximately 30 relatives.

“The Massapequa Board of Education appointed me to serve as a trustee in 2003 to replace a board member who had resigned.  Since that time, I have been re-elected three times to continue serving the Massapequa school community.  My number one priority as a school board member has been to ensure that our school district is relentlessly focused on helping all of our students reach their full potential. Not some of our students. Not most of our students. But all of our students.

“Our students, teachers and administrators all want to succeed, and the board’s role is to help them achieve their goals.  Over the past several years, I have supported a variety of new educational programs that have brought many challenging and exciting opportunities to our student population. Just a couple of years ago I supported the implementation of a full day Kindergarten program that the community had wanted for years. I have also supported our very successful music, art and athletics programs. 

“I’m sure you are all familiar with the truly awful financial environment that has come upon our public schools. Pension costs, health insurance costs, unfunded state mandates, and the shift to public schools of Nassau County’s obligation to pay for their property assessment errors. All of these additional increased costs have contributed to this fiscal crisis. The cost is several million dollars of which we have no control. The newly enacted NYS Property Tax Cap will control our school’s tax levy increases but the costs I’ve mentioned are mandated and will only continue to grow.   It makes it very clear that your board of education members will have difficult decisions prioritizing academic and extracurricular programs for our children. This community must ensure that there are trustees on the Massapequa School Board with extensive knowledge of the educational programs needed for our students to succeed.

“I am very proud of our school district’s accomplishments over the past several years.  This year we have graduating seniors accepted in to the following colleges and universities: Harvard, Yale, Columbia, Cornell, and the University of Pennsylvania just to name a few.  We should all take great pride in their successes and know that because of the community’s support for the outstanding educational program Massapequa public schools offers that this is possible.  You can’t have a great community with high property values if you don’t have a great public school program. 

“Please know that I love Massapequa. I believe in the power of a public education, therefore, I want to continue making a difference in the lives of our children. School boards need individuals with broad perspectives that are honest and maintain their integrity.  I thank you for your trust and confidence in me all these years and ask for your continued support on May 15.”

The 2012-13 school budget vote and trustee election will take place Tuesday, May 15, from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m., in four voting locations: Lockhart, McKenna and Fairfield Elementary Schools, and Massapequa High School.

Dianne Sheffield

Dianne Sheffield is a candidate for the Massapequa School Board. She issued the following information on her candidacy.

“I have been a member of the Massapequa community my entire life, a Berner High School graduate (class of 1977), I purchased the home I grew up in to raise my family,” she said. “I have two children, Tim (Massapequa High School class of 2011) and Chrissy, a 10th-grader at the high school. After graduating from high school, I received my BS in accounting from C.W. Post and my MBA from Adelphi University.  My early accounting career was spent in the defense industry, where I learned firsthand the proper use of taxpayer money.  Eventually, my career led me to work as an auditor and treasurer in schools across Long Island, including eight years as the internal claims auditor in Massapequa.  I currently work for the Plainview-Old Bethpage CSD and the Roslyn UFSD while pursuing my school district business leader advanced certification at Dowling College.

“I have spent many years giving back to the Massapequa community.  I was the religion teacher at St. Rose of Lima and have been an active member of the Unqua PTA, Massapequa Jr/Sr. PTSA, as well as Massapequa Council.  I have also spent many hours coaching softball in the Massapequa International Little League, and continue to coach even though my daughter no longer plays softball.

“As a single mother, I know the struggles many Massapequa families face trying to keep up with the ever-increasing cost of living on Long Island.  As an auditor in Nassau County school districts, I bring an experienced perspective to the problems facing our schools today.

“I am running because I believe the school district budget has been increasing at an unsustainable pace, and I am tired of our programs – sports, music, art, etc. – being held hostage to that ever-increasing budget.  We – the administration and community alike – need to realize that the question isn’t “academics vs. athletics/music/art,” but how to provide excellence in both without bankrupting the taxpayers.

“I am running with Joseph Marsh.  Joseph and I believe the district’s administration is top-heavy, uninspired, and unresponsive to the community.  We seek to change that – to streamline the administration, to reinvigorate the community and staff of the school district, and to foster open and honest communication between the district and the taxpaying community.

“The dramatic increase in funding for the public education system over the years has not resulted in a corresponding increase in student achievement.  Resources must be focused upon direct student learning, ensuring our young students are ingrained with the necessary skills to build upon through their learning years.

“The school board’s commitment to transparency is essential to allow for and empower an informed community to intelligently prioritize programs and expenditures in an increasingly more challenging economic environment. School board members and school district administrators must be held accountable to the community for effective, results-driven decision-making.

“The Massapequa administration is not forthcoming with the public when it comes to sharing the financial data that drives the district and that needs to change. The administration does not breed a culture where BOE members are allowed to express their opinions, which runs contrary to the idea of free discourse between the board and the public.

“The entire culture of the district has to change, and it has to start at the top.  It has to start with board members who realize that they represent the public and not administration.

“There are five members of the community — the school board trustees — who decide how the approximately $180,000,000 of our tax money is spent. This is an extraordinary responsibility — a responsibility that should also invite and withstand the scrutiny of the residents of the Massapequa School District.

“Joseph and I are running for the future of our children,” she concluded.  “If things stay status quo, our children will never be able to afford to buy a home in Massapequa, just as many of us will not be able to retire here.”

The 2012-13 school budget vote and trustee election will take place Tuesday, May 15, from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m., in four voting locations: Lockhart, McKenna and Fairfield Elementary Schools, and Massapequa High School.

Richard A. Carozza

Richard A. Carozza, MPA, is a candidate for the Massapequa School Board. He issued the following information on his candidacy.

Carozza said he is running for school board because he believes that the school district must contain costs, and he believes that it also needs to spend the funds it has more wisely. He said he is interested in applying his “extensive business acumen” and education to improved planning for the short and long-term for the district.

He also said that he is committed to cutting excessive administrator salaries and positions, cutting unnecessary waste by centralizing purchasing and stopping the duplication of work functions and practices.  He added that he believes in rewarding quality educators with merit raises and job retention. Carozza said that he wants to hold school administrators accountable to the taxpayers by instituting fiscal discipline with zero-based budgeting.

The candidate holds a bachelor’s degree in finance from NYIT and a master of Public Administration (MPA) degree from the C.W. Post Campus of LIU. As part of his MPA, Carozza conducted extensive research on and analysis of the financial crisis in public education in New York, which culminated with a master’s thesis: “Public Education in NYS: Analysis of Local and Statewide Budget Crisis.”

A local businessman, Carozza’s companies are in real estate, construction and development, and finance and insurance.  In addition, he is an active community member with the Massapequa Chamber of Commerce, Massapequa Park Merchants Association, Sons of Italy and attends Grace Episcopal Church.

He said that his academic and research accomplishments, experience working in both government and business, deep roots in the community and three children attending Massapequa public schools make him uniquely qualified to lead the school district to fiscal health and educational excellence.

Carozza resides in Massapequa Park with his wife and three school-aged children, all of whom, as noted, attend the Massapequa schools.

The 2012-13 school budget vote and trustee election will take place Tuesday, May 15, from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m., in four voting locations: Lockhart, McKenna and Fairfield Elementary Schools, and Massapequa High School.

Joseph LaBella

Joseph LaBella is a candidate for the Massapequa School Board. He issued the following information on his candidacy.

“My family has lived in Massapequa for the last 29 years,” he said. “My wife’s name is Donna, and we have been married for 31 years. We have three children, all of whom graduated from Massapequa High School with college scholarships: Joseph Jr., Molloy College, B.S. criminal justice; Michael, Edinboro University, B.S. health and physical education, Stony Brook University, master’s in teacher education and Lauren, Drexel University, B.S. sport management, minor in legal studies.

“My two sons both own homes in Massapequa and will have children attending Massapequa Schools within the next few years,” he added. “Additionally, my mother-in-law and brother- in-law and sister-in-law all live in the district and I have a nephew currently in McKenna School.”

LaBella said that he has 33 years experience in the services industry, including that of a regional district manager for a Fortune 500 company with responsibility for managing a $50 million yearly budget with more than 1,000 union and nonunion employees. He said that he also has expertise in operations, budget and planning.

LaBella also said that for 12 years, he has been the owner/operator of a successful small business, providing highway emergency patrol and repair services to municipal department of transportation agencies in several states.

His community involvement, he added, includes six years as a volunteer CYO basketball coach (boys and girls teams), plus work with Massapequa High School football, lacrosse and wrestling booster clubs. His family, he added, was also a host family in the Unqua School for a Japanese exchange teacher.

“I will work to responsibly overcome the financial restrictions facing the district by combining the best business practices of the public and private sectors with a view towards providing the best possible learning environment for Massapequa students,” LaBella said. “In these difficult times, I will unite our community behind great schools instead of dividing it with sharp attacks.”

Among the changes LaBella said he would bring about include:

• Setting up and maintaining an effective organizational structure;

• Monitoring and adjusting the budget to work within the school district’s goals;

• Building a healthy relationship between employees, administration and parents;

• Always being cognizant of how not to waste taxpayer money.

“Every parent considers programs that affect their children are essential, be it music, art, sports, languages, etc.,” Labella continued.  “I understand the programs have been put in place for a reason; we should evaluate the results and participation before I suggest any reductions or elimination of programs.  If the district is experiencing positive results and good participation, the program should be maintained.  To stay within budget I would trim programs, not cut [them].

“My first priority will be preparing students for higher education, along with the skills necessary for gainful employment,” he added. “I will ensure all facts are presented and considered before I suggest any reductions or elimination of programs. I will work to avoid program cuts and employee layoffs through smart trimming of waste.

“I am running because I want to give something back to the community that has treated my family so well over the last 29 years,” he concluded. “My business experience and expertise in dealing with large groups of employees and multi-million dollar budgets qualify me for a position on the Massapequa School Board.”

The 2012-13 school budget vote and trustee election will take place Tuesday, May 15, from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m., in four voting locations: Lockhart, McKenna and Fairfield Elementary Schools, and Massapequa High School.

Joseph D. March

Joseph D. March is a candidate for the Massapequa School Board. He issued the following information on his candidacy.

“I have been married to my wife Nicole for over 12 years, moving to Massapequa Park shortly after we got married,” he said. “We have three children: Samuel (9 years old; fourth grade) and Lucas (7 years old; second grade) are students at McKenna Elementary; Emma is 3, and is very excited about going to McKenna in a few years.

“I graduated from SUNY-Albany with a bachelor of science degree in computer science, and have had a successful, 20-year career developing, implementing and managing software.  I currently run my own technology and management consulting business.  I received an honorable discharge from the New York National Guard in 1994, after serving for over eight years.

“I am also an active member of my community: I have been on the school district’s budget and finance committee for six years, and am a regular attendee of board of education meetings; I have been the committee chair for Cub Scout Pack 776 in Massapequa Park for two years; and, I am an active member of the McKenna PTA, currently serving as the board of education representative and the chairman of the curriculum committee.

“I believe that the mission of a school board is to represent the community.  The administration and all of the employees of the school district are represented by their respective unions, which have done their jobs; but the community has been poorly represented, if at all, by recent boards of education.  I am running for the school board, along with Dianne Sheffield, because I want to change that.  We believe that a strong board of education is not just a ‘desirable’ component of our public education system, but also a requirement of it.  Public education is a three-legged stool, with the district staff as one leg, the community (parents and children) as the second, and the school board as the third.  We believe that without an engaged, motivated, thoughtful board of education acting in support of the community, the expectation of a great education is unrealistic.

“I believe that we live in a vibrant community, filled with intelligent people who have new ideas, and make wonderful suggestions for enhancing the whole educational experience for our kids.  I am also running for the school board because many in the current administration, as well as recent boards of education, have often turned a deaf ear to those voices.  And they’ve done it to the detriment of our district.  I am an avid believer that all voices need to be heard, respected and considered.

“After years of frustration, I am running for the school board because I am tired of having our art, music and sports programs held hostage to our ever-increasing school budget.  Education is not simply books, lectures and tests: science, technology and math (STEM) are wonderful things, which will serve many of our children well throughout their lives.  But they don’t foster the same learning experience as art, music or sports.  It bothers me when I am asked if we should cut academic programs or art/music/sports; that’s like asking me whether I would prefer to lose an arm or a leg.  I believe that we should be nurturing all aspects of our children, and we do a disservice to them when we don’t.

“Dianne Sheffield and I are two different people. We grew up in different places, went to different schools, and have different ideas about various aspects of the public education system.  But we are of similar mind with regards to the educational excellence that we demand from our school district; the unwavering requirement for open and honest communication between the community, the administration and the school board; and the desire to spend taxpayer dollars wisely, rather than simply spending more.

“I believe that the education our children are receiving is very good, but I also believe it can, and should, be great,” he concluded.

The 2012-13 school budget vote and trustee election will take place Tuesday, May 15, from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m., in four voting locations: Lockhart, McKenna and Fairfield Elementary Schools, and Massapequa High School.

News

Two hundred business students from high schools across Nassau County, including Massapequa High School, competed for scholarships and cash awards—more than $33,000 in all—from various sponsors at Nassau County’s annual Comptroller’s Entrepreneurial Challenge.

The events on Sept. 11, 2001 had a profound effect on nearly all in the tri-state area, but for first responders, the effects were overwhelming. Long-time Massapequa resident Michael Smith, a member of the New York Fire Department, experienced those effects firsthand.

“While I’ve always been a person that could appreciate life, after 9/11 I became so distraught,” he said. “I realized I need to do something I want to do — something I love to do.”

A 30-year veteran of the fire department, Smith retired in 2002. He and his wife of 33 years, Teresa, began to look for a place they could enjoy life. This mindset brought them to the East End of Long Island, where they often went for day trips. They settled down in a home in Orient Point in 2004; in a home that needed quite a bit of work. And when it was time to landscape the property, a new idea took root — a vineyard.


Sports

Massapequa athletes recently received honors from their coaches at Kellenberg Memorial High School.

Each season, the coaches of all of the Kellenberg teams choose one member of their team who stands out as an athlete that has worked hard to improve themselves in their chosen sport.

The Farmingdale State women’s lacrosse team won the first game of their Spring Break trip to North Carolina with a victory over Greensboro College. In wet and muddy conditions, the Rams (8-1) held an 8-5 lead at the half and took the eventual 13-10 win.

In the first half and tied 2-2, the Pride (7-5) pulled ahead 4-2 with two unassisted goals by junior attack Nadya Fedun. Farmingdale State answered with four straight scores for a 6-4 advantage, on goals by juniors Alyssa Handel, Nicole Marzocca and Massapequan Jackie Kennedy.

Sophomore attack Ashlynn Parks put Greensboro within a goal at the 7:03 mark, but the Rams scored two more to lead 8-5 at the halftime break.

Calendar

YES Fundraiser

Saturday, April 26

Massapequa Memories

Tuesday, April 29

Spring Fashion Show

Wednesday, April 30



Columns

1959: The Year The Music Stopped Playing
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com

The Eccentric Heiress Of ‘Empty Mansions’
Written by Mike Barry, MFBarry@optonline.net

Yellow Margarine And A Pitch For The Ages
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com