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Budget Passed, New Board Members

Voters in the Oyster-Bay-East Norwich Central School District last week overwhelmingly approved the budget for the 2013-14 school year and elected two new members of the school board.

John McEvoy, an attorney and business owner who entered the race late following the eleventh hour withdrawal of Jim Mattel, vice president of the board of education, won big with 1,060 votes. Jennifer Romeo, an accountant for King Kullen, won the other seat with 662 votes.

Board member Dr. Michael Castellano lost his bid for re-election, finishing third with 631 votes. Harriet Dorfman, a local school and community activist, finished fourth at 528 votes.

Voters  passed the budget of $53.5 million 932 to 604, by a 62 percent majority, Ann Marie Longo, board of education president, said in announcing the vote totals.

The other propositions for the school district, extending the district’s capital reserve fund and approving capital expenditures authorized by the board of education, as well as the budget for the Oyster Bay-East Norwich Library, also were passed.

School board and district officials  closed the polls at  9 p.m.  May 21 as scheduled, and counted the votes. As the voting was winding down for the day, the Oyster Bay High School wind ensemble and its chorus performed in concert in the auditorium.

Around 8:45 p.m. an announcement was made at the concert that the polls would be closing shortly and anyone who hadn’t voted was encouraged to do so. Several people left the auditorium.

The results of the voting were announced around the time that that the concert concluded.

“I’m pleasantly surprised” by the margin of approval for the budget, Longo said afterwards. “I’m proud of our community.”

Dr. Phyllis Harrington, superintendent of the Oyster Bay-East Norwich schools, praised both the community and the school board for its “well-planned budget.”

Following the votes, McEvoy said he commends “everyone who ran,” and promised to work hard a s a school board member.

He had been thinking about running for school board for some time. When Mattel announced his withdrawal from the race for health reasons (See Enterprise-Pilot 5/17/2013), some people encouraged him to run, McEvoy said. “It seemed like a good time.

“I’m looking forward to working with the other board members, the administration, the staff,” McEvoy said. “so we can keep up the good work and keep expenses down.”

“I’ll be listening a lot and I’ll be reading a lot,” McEvoy said.

Romeo said that she was “very humbled that the people would pick me. And I feel honored. I will do my best to work with everyone for the dkis, the parents, and taxpayers.” She added: “I’m so grateful for all the people who helped me.”

Castellano, who was first elected to the school board, four years ago, said that “I wish the board well.”

Dorfman declined to comment.

In addition to passing the budget, Proposition No. 1, voters passed Proposition No. 2, to extend the district’s capital reserve fund, which was set at $10 million and would have expired in 2016. It passed 889 to 549. The fund will be increased to $20 million and extended to 2026.

Voters by an 881 to 503 margin also approved Proposition No. 3, the spending of as much as $1.7 million from the district’s capital reserve fund for school building improvement projects and for equipment and machinery (See Enterprise-Pilot 5/17/2013).

In addition to the school propositions and the school board elections, voters approved 916 to 340 Proposition No. 4, the Oyster Bay-East Norwich Public Library budget of $1.8 million. Voters also elected Robert Murray, who ran unopposed, to a five-year term on the library board, with 900 votes.

“A lot of change this year,” Longo said, noting that there will be two new board members, and that Harrington has announced that she is leaving the district to become superintendent of schools in Oceanside.

“We welcome the new board members,” Longo said. “They’ll get up to speed.”

Harrington said that she congratulated the new board members but wanted to acknowledge the service of Castellano. “During my tenure, he proved to be an outstanding board member. He will be missed as will Jim Matel, who made a great contribution, too.”

An Oyster Bay native, McEvoy lives in East Norwich with his wife, Deanne Hardiman McEvoy, and has three children in the district schools. He operates Scicom, an information technology firm.

McEvoy graduated from Queens College and later Seton Hall University School of Law. He has served on the Oyster Bay High School site-based committee for the PTA for the past 2 years, He has coached CYO basketball, youth baseball, soccer, and flag football, as well as volunteering at the Life Enrichment Senior Center.

As chairman of the Oyster Bay Student/Business Partnership for the past six years, he is involved with the annual Career Awareness Day for eighth-graders.

Romeo, who lives in East Norwich with her husband, Doug Romeo. A graduate of Bloomsberg University, she has been accountant for King Kullen for 27 years.

Romeo has lived in the district for more than 20 years. She has three children in Oyster Bay High School. Her oldest is a graduate. She has been involved in the schools as well as Scouting and has taught religious education at St. Dominic’s.