This year's school board election has three candidates running for two seats on the seven member Board of Education. Those seeking election are Alan Baer, Dean Nardone and John Zimmerman. They will fill the seats vacated by Candy Rossettie and Joe Mirzoeff who both decided not to seek re-election this year.
Alan Baer, is a 38+ year resident who was born and raised in Port Washington and attended the Port schools for his K-12 education. Mr. Baer attended Syracuse University and in 1996, received an MBA in management from the Stern School of Business at NYU. Baer is the president of Ocean World Lines, a $70 million ocean transportation business, which employs a staff of 80. Baer is a PAL and PYA coach and team sponsor.
"Port Washington has always been synonymous with quality education. Given the growing needs of our diverse population it is important that we remain focused on educational excellence for all children. As a community we must remain committed to providing our children the tools they will need to compete in the 21st century," said Baer.
"Due to our growing school population, the next 3 to 5 years will be a critical time for our district. No single solution will answer all the pending issues. Consensus building will be vital, as there are numerous stakeholders in our district. My organizational skills, my fiscal experience and most importantly my ability to listen and find solutions, will ensure we meet the challenges the future holds, for our children and community," he said.
Alan and his wife Karen are raising three young children; David a third grader at Manorhaven, Zachary a pre-schooler and Jessica a 20-day-old daughter.
Dean Nardone was educated and raised in the Port Washington School District during some of its most populated years. He returned to town four years ago to raise his family here. As a founder of the Phoenix Search Group, Ltd. (est. 1991) he understands how to work with different types of people and how to get things done. His business requires him to listen to all the different perspectives that people have
Among Mr. Nardone's priorities will be:
The development of a realistic plan to accommodate the current boom in enrollment, especially at Weber and Schreiber.
Finding the means to add more elementary classroom space and to not allow our schools to grow so large that they become factories of education.
Putting the education and facilities for students first and then finding appropriate space for the administration.
Continuing the improvement of Port's test scores.
Bringing a "business sense" approach to the school board that allows effective decisions to be made in a timely manner.
Married to Mary Beth in 1993, Nardone has two young children, the older of which will enter kindergarten in 1999. He understands that not having children currently in the district will require him to listen to others that much more. It will also allow him to challenge any facet of the district without that typical fear of ramifications.
John Zimmerman moved to Port Washington two years ago. He says, "We were looking for a great community, within easy commuting distance to NYC, where we could raise a growing family and find a better quality of life for our children than in New York City." A Rutgers graduate, he graduated with a degree in accounting. He currently owns and runs his own financial services firm.
When asked why he's running, Mr. Zimmerman says, "The problem that most school boards that I see, is that they are often stocked with well meaning and civic minded individuals who also have absolutely no concept of how to run a successful business. Let's not kid ourselves, we are running a business here. Our revenue is taxes; our expenses are itemized in the budget and hopefully the product we produce is the highest possible quality education.
"In reviewing recent school Regents results and the NY State Report Card from ours and the surrounding districts, I do not believe that we are producing this product in the most effective means possible. In truth, our children's scores on the standardized tests lag most of our neighboring school districts. I think it is about time we recognize this problem, instead of always trying to put a spin on the results with false claims of great success."
He adds, "I would hope that I would be joined by other candidates in future years who would be willing to donate their private sector success for the good of public education."
John and his wife Dorothy have two children who are not yet old enough to be enrolled in the Port Washington school system.