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Mineola School Board Shuffle

Trustees sworn in; Barnett, Napolitano named president, VP

After a tumultuous end to the school year, the Mineola School District reorganized its board of education on Tuesday, July 2, swearing in newcomers Patricia Navarra and Nicole Matzer. The board elevated Artie Barnett and Christine Napolitano to board president and vice president, respectively. William Hornberger will serve as trustee and report on finance committee happenings.

Navarra replaces trustee Irene Parrino, who lost her seat to Navarra in the recent election.

Board Vice President Hale resigned effective midnight last Tuesday. This came after Parrino filed a petition with the state to have him investigated and removed from his seat. Matzer was appointed to Hale’s spot at a special meeting on June 27.

“One thing about the past, we have to learn from it, not dwell on it,” Barnett said. “So I’m looking forward to our next step. We are headed in the right direction. We’re not going to slow down, God willing.”

Matzer will serve the remainder of Hale’s term, which expires on May 20, 2014. The Mineola resident has not indicated if she will run for school board next year.

She will represent the board on the district’s health and safety council. Matzer is eager to see the district implement its new security measures in the wake of the Sandy Hook shootings.

“I thought as an involved parent, [the health and safety council] was a good place for me to be,” she said. “I want to be a part of the [security measure] process.”

Navarra, a 15-year Williston Park resident, worked with Matzer on the District Council PTA and teaches English at Hofstra University. She also co-founded PEACE (People for Excellence, Affordability and Commitment to Education) with Barnett. She will serve as the board’s BOCES rep, a position previously held by Parrino.

“Considering the broad educational reform that’s taking place across the country and our leadership in it, there’s no place I’d rather be,” she said.”

Barnett said that when he was elected to the board just last year, he didn’t expect to become president so fast.

“In a year? No,” Barnett said of the being board president. “Someday, possibly, but in a year, no. [But] I’m not nervous.”

Barnett, the board’s SEPTA District Council rep, is now the third-longest tenured board member, preceded by Hornberger and Napolitano.

Napolitano served as board president in 2012 and as vice president twice since her first election as a trustee in 2009. She will report to the board from the policy and regulation review committee.

“I’d like the focus to be back on the kids,” she said. Many district stakeholders are hoping the new talent will help the board refocus on its primary role of building a strong educational community.  

“I’m very excited,” said Matzer. “The partnership [the district has] with the parents matters.”