Written by Joe Rizza Wednesday, 13 May 2009 10:10
A resident of Williston Park, Chris Napolitano is running unopposed for a three-year term on the Mineola School Board. She is filling the seat held by Steve Siwinski, who has decided to retire from the board.
Napolitano has three daughters, two of whom graduated from Mineola High School and a third who is a freshman at the high school.
Her oldest daughter is going for a Ph.D. in integrated biomedical science at Ohio State and another daughter is studying to be a nurse.
Napolitano knows well the strong education that the Mineola School District provided for her children and now she wants to be a part of the board that helps provide that for all children in the district.
“There are so many kids who do great things in this district,” said Napolitano, who has been a member of various school-community committees.
Napolitano said she has seen improvement that has taken place in educating students in recent years. She said when she first came to the district, learning was taking place but there wasn’t a clear plan. However, she believes the district has made great strides, under the leadership of superintendent of schools Dr. Larry Licopoli, in how the district is run. Now, she said, there are plans in place for curriculum, student improvement, capital improvement and communications. “We started to look ahead and we finally have a plan in place,” she said.
With Dr. Licopoli retiring on June 30, the leadership of the district will go to current deputy superintendent Dr. Michael Nagler. Napolitano is pleased she will have the opportunity to work with Dr. Nagler. “I feel his motivations are always geared towards the kids. I know his heart is in the right place but that doesn’t mean I’m not going to give him a hard time when [I feel I need to],” she said.
One of the main issues the board of education will face in the coming years is how the district can continue to provide its educational program in a way that the community can afford. Napolitano believes the board and the district have been conscious of the financial situation many taxpayers are facing. “I think the board is very well aware that everyone is hurting. The decisions that we make have to always take into account what we spend,” she said, but added, “The entire community benefits from a strong school district and we can’t forget that.”
One of the big issues facing the district is whether the board will decide to close a school. If a school is going to be closed as a cost-savings measure, a decision has to be made by this August in order to close a school in time for the 2010-2011 school year. Napolitano believes that the community should decide whether a school should close by the way the community votes on the proposed budgets.
Another way Napolitano hopes to contribute to the board is by being someone who can work with others as a team, something she feels the board needs to do during a time when difficult decisions are needed.