Five community members have announced their candidacy for the three school board seats available this year on the seven member board. Incumbents Dr. Roy Nelson, Sandy Ehrlich and Nancy Cowles will be seeking re-election, each for a second term. Julie Meyer and Robert Ferro are also running. Originally a sixth candidate, Mitch Bershader, had filed a nominating petition. But, he withdrew from the race because he feels he does not have the time necessary to devote to the job at this point in time.
We asked the five candidates to provide us with personal biographies and general statements about why they chose to run and what they would like to accomplish.
Sandra Ehrlich, a ten year resident of Port Washington, is the owner and operator of a business which manufactures and distributes imaging supplies. She is former vice president of Bankers Trust and Lehman Brothers, who managed teams which created financial reporting systems for the securities industry. She has a bachelor's degree from Queens College (CUNY) in Theater and English and attended New York University School of Business. Sandy is a past president of the Port Washington Parent Resource Center, former secretary of Landmark on Main Street and a current member of the Landmark on Main Street Advisory.
"I am proud of the accomplishments of the last three years. Our district has made significant advances on many fronts. Our schools are moving toward an all-Regents graduation standard at a pace which far exceeds New York State requirements. Curriculum is being expanded and integrated to support learning by gifted, average and struggling learners. We have brought one class of special education students back into the district. These children would otherwise have been forced to travel distances to other programs at great expense to the district and hardship to the children. Next year there will be another class of these children brought back to the district. Our administrative procedures, once in disarray, are now a source of great pride. Our business, personnel and facilities offices are run in a businesslike manner that allows us to undertake new initiatives with confidence. We have undertaken a long-term planning process which will provide the foundation for educational excellence for many years to come.
Sandy and her husband Mike have three children, David, Daniel and Alison, who are all students at Manorhaven School, where Sandy is an active member of the PTA. David will enter Weber Middle School in September.
A 20-year community resident, Roy Nelson is completing his first term on the school board and is seeking re-election. After just three years on the board, he feels that "we have made a good beginning but there is much to be done." He has brought to the district the administrative, research and budgetary experience he obtained while serving the community as a North Shore University Hospital based open heart surgeon. Now retired from his surgical practice, he has served the board as trustee, vice president and is its current president. He is also a candidate for a masters in public administration from the NYU-Wagner School of Public Service.
Very familiar with Port's schools as a parent of three Schreiber graduates, he has brought this background to the board. He takes great pride in the board and district's accomplishments that not only include the successful science research program that supported our Intel winners but also the support provided for the entire range of student needs from the neediest to the most gifted. In addition, a long-term plan based on well-defined educational needs and population projections is in place to meet both the current and future needs of the district. The expanded, revised and coordinated curriculum that has been developed can now be implemented in an appropriate environment. Also noteworthy is that programs and instruction across the district are being expanded to meet the ever-increasing needs of the students.
Dr. Nelson feels that it has been his privilege and pleasure to work with both Mrs. Cowles and Mrs. Ehrlich and his fellow board members on a path of "excellence in education." He feels that by re-electing Mrs. Cowles, Mrs. Ehrlich and himself to the school board, the community will be providing it with the consistent and effective leadership necessary to meet the district's future needs. He has taken as his mission the Mission Statement of the Board of Education "to continually improve the quality of learning through the implementation of instructional techniques that reflect individual and/or group needs, the development of curriculum designs that have common goals and measurable outcomes, and the creation of higher expectations for performance, within an environment consisting of sound educational facilities."
Julie has lived in Port Washington for the past seven years. She is married and has a 4 1/2-year-old daughter who will be attending Guggenheim Elementary this fall.
She holds a bachelor of science degree in business administration from Cedar Crest College in Allentown, PA., as well as a private pilot license. She is a member of Women in Aviation, International. She is an aviation insurance underwriter and was employed by Associated Aviation Underwriters for ten and a half years until recently leaving her underwriter position to spend time with her daughter before she begins kindergarten in the fall. As an underwriter she gained experience in contract analysis, risk analysis of major corporations as well as individuals and worked with budgets.
She believes the school board should be more inclusive of the community and more receptive to community input. The school board is elected by the community to perform a service for the community and in the best interest of the students. A school board needs to listen to the community that it serves.
She would like to see the school board members behave in a professional manner more becoming to such an important and vital organization. Our current board spends so much time bickering and insulting each other those ideas worthy of consideration are often dismissed without any consideration. The welfare of our students is compromised.
She believes the current bond proposal contains excessive and wasteful spending. If elected to the Board of Education, she would like to see a better bond placed before the community for a vote. She is not against education and knows our children need more room in the schools. She is certainly not against helping our children, however, believes that the current plan has many weaknesses.
In a letter to the editor last week it was written that we have lost sight of the big picture and therefore need to vote for the bond. To the contrary, it is our current school board who has lost sight of the big picture and is not interested in what is best for our community and children. Our town is a very diversified community and we must preserve that diversity, not destroy it.
Education has always been a priority for Nancy Cowles, a 32-year resident, who moved to Port Washington because of the excellent reputation of its schools. Her three children went through the Port system, and now her two grandchildren are attending. One is a 9th grader at Schreiber, and the other, a fourth grader at Guggenheim.
Nancy has a master's degree in education and professional diploma in school psychology. She has taken additional course work in administration and supervision. Prior to retirement, she served on a school based support team and member of a committee on special education in New York City and was an adjunct clinical field supervisor at St. John's University. Currently, she is an associate in an architectural firm.
During her three year tenure on the board, Nancy chaired its Community Relations and Facilities Committees and has been a member of the Curriculum Committee. She has helped create a climate of greater openness, respect and increased communication between the board and staff, parents and the public. She has encouraged community members to become involved and utilize their expertise in helping the board arrive at appropriate solutions.
While she sees a need for continued oversight, she believes greater emphasis is being placed on providing differentiated instruction, access to more challenging courses and support services that offer each student the opportunity for growth in line with individual needs and potential. She is proud to have participated in the establishment of appropriate self-contained special education programs that have facilitated the return of students who previously had to attend much more costly out of district schools. As more experienced teachers retire, Nancy would like to see the district focus on improving supervisory and evaluation methods and providing meaningful staff development.
Nancy is seeking re-election because she believes the experience and knowledge she and her colleagues, Roy Nelson and Sandy Ehrlich have acquired will prove invaluable in meeting the challenges which will confront the district during the implementation of its long-range plan.
This is Robert Ferro's second attempt at becoming a school board member. (He ran last year.) He is the comptroller of a major international publishing company, a company that provides timely and important information to the marketing and entertainment industries." I have 25 years of experience in strategic planning, acquisitions, leadership development, innovation, and managing changes. I am very passionate about how someone else is spending my money."
"I have a B.S. in economics and a master of accounting from St. John's University," said Ferro.
"I've been a resident for seven years. My wife and I have four children, age 12, 11, 9 and 5, who attend private schools in Port Washington.
Mr. Ferro is an active member of the New York Athletic Club and the Knights of Columbus. He and his family belong to the Port Washington Yacht Club.
"My priorities if elected to the Port Washington School Board would be to provide innovative leadership, a sense of order in the school board meetings and a degree of professionalism."