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Joseph LaBella Elected To School Board

Maryanne Fisher re-elected; school, library budgets receive approval

Another highly competitive board of education race has ended with voters in the Massapequa School District electing a new school board member, while also re-electing the lone incumbent in the race.

Joseph LaBella was the top vote getter with 2,535 votes. Incumbent Maryanne Fisher was re-elected to a fourth term with 2,333 votes.

Both Diane Sheffield and Joseph Marsh ran as a team for the BOE. Both also polled strongly, with Ms. Sheffield receiving 1,948 votes and Marsh tallying 1,552 votes. Joseph Carozza received 956 votes.

In addition, the 2012-13 school budget was approved, receiving 3,208 yes votes with 1,814 Massapequa School District residents voting no. The Massapequa Public Library budget received similar approval, with 3,390 residents voting yes and 1,575 voting against passage. Only one library board of trustee member was up for re-election. John Laibach received 1,766 votes while facing no opposition.

As a challenger, LaBella touted his business experience, citing his 33 years experience in the services industry, including that of a regional district manager for a Fortune 500 company with the responsibility for managing a $50 million yearly budget with more than 1,000 union and non-union employees.

He also presented himself as a candidate of change, including such policies as 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 and “always being cognizant of how not to waste taxpayer money.”

“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.” That was the message that resonated most strongly with school district voters as LaBella, in his first political race, was the top vote-getter in Nassau County’s largest school district.

During her campaign, Ms. Fisher touted her achievements as a board member.

“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,” she also told The Massapequan Observer. “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. 

“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.”

Ms. Fisher also noted the “truly awful” financial environment that public schools must operate in, acknowledging the difficulties posed by unfunded mandates.

“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,” she said and voters agreed.

The proposed school budget totaled $183,073,234, which according to Massapequa School District officials, amounted to a budget-to-budget increase of $3,863,335 or 2.16 percent over last year’s budget. The tax levy increase is $3,219,646 or 2.22 percent, which fully complies with the new state tax cap limits, district officials said prior to the vote. And that, too, was good enough for approval in what turned out to be an election with extensive voter turnout.

Voters Approve Plainedge Budget

In other area school news, voters in the Plainedge School District approved of the 2012-13 budget by a solid 1,376 to 904 margin.

The budget called for $83,038,901 in expenditures, a slight increase over last year’s total of $79,715,961.

Voters also approved a capital reserve proposition, which called for the district to expend  $500,000 from the district’s capital reserve fund in order to make repairs to school buildings. The vote was 1,416 to 702 in the affirmative.

The three board of education incumbents up for re-election—Mary Lowe, Dennis Gustafson, and Maryann Capone—faced no challengers. They were re-elected to another three-year term each. Finally, the Plainedge Library budget was approved by a similar 1,454-754 margin, with David Gottlieb winning re-election without opposition.

Voters Approve Farmingdale Budget

On Tuesday, May 15, Farmingdale School District residents took to the polls at Howitt Middle School, resulting in an approved 2012-13 school budget with the breakdown being 1,787—yes, and 896—no. This year’s budget offered to voters totaled  $150,567,160. The district’s budget-to-budget increase is 1.82 percent more than last year.

Shari Bardash-Eivers, Kathly Lively and Rick Morrison all ran unopposed and earned re-election.