This year the school board has two positions available. One is that of Board President Laura Mogul, who opted not to seek re-election. The other available seat is that of Nancy Cowles, who is seeking re-election. Four newcomers have thrown their hats into the ring; they are Candace Bowser, Brian Calenda, Jean Marie Posner and Eric Zausner. In addition, former board member and School Board President (2000 and 2001) Richard Sussman will seek election to the trustee position.
As we do every year, we asked the candidates to submit bios and mission statements. Here's what they wrote:
My name is Candace Bowser. I'm 39 years old and have been a life-long resident of Port Washington. I'm the proud mother of one son Namel, and I'm an active Daly School parent. I have a B.S. in Psychology from Howard University and have begun working toward my MSW at SUNY Stony Brook. I have a Counseling Certification from the Nassau County Mental Health Association. I have also worked as an Outreach worker, an advance counselor, a teacher's assistant in the Port Washington Schools, a youth coordinator, a youth program director and an assistant to a CEO. I'm currently working as a social welfare examiner. I am involved with a widespread of community organizations and currently serve on the boards of the Port Washington Community Action Program, CSEA Union, Nassau County Department of Social Service Safety Warden, Economic Opportunity Commission of Nassau County, Inc., and Cow Bay Housing. My other involvements are just as diversified: Mt. Olive African Methodist Episcopal Church: board of trustee president, finance committee, class leader, pastor's aide, young people's representative, youth delegate to the First Episcopal District, Port Washington Children's Center, Littig House Community Center, Student & Teachers Against Racism. I am the third generation of my family to be committed to social action and the promotion of cultural diversity in the Port Washington Community and School District.
My mission is a commitment to academic excellence and social action. I will build alliances where all parents, teachers, students and community share the responsibility of creating a respectful, supportive nurturing environment that promotes and recognizes diversity.
I am 48 and am a life-long resident of Port Washington, graduating from Schreiber in 1974. I attended Nassau Community College. I have been employed as a sales representative for an architectural products company for over 15 years. I am married to Lisa Nardone, another life-long Port Washington resident who graduated from Schreiber the same year I did. I have two sons; one in 8th grade at Weber and another in 2nd grade at Sousa. I have served on the board of directors for PYA for the last 13 years, coaching many football, basketball and lacrosse teams. I was an integral part of the renovation of "The Field of Dreams." I have also been a St. Peter's CYO basketball coach for the last six years.
During my 36 years in Port I have had three children and a grandchild graduate from Schreiber. Currently a grandson attends Weber and a second one will start kindergarten at Guggenheim this fall. I've always been active in school and community affairs. I've served on the boards of the Daly and Sousa HSA's and chaired Gambol Committees in 1978,1980 and 1984. For several years I was a volunteer tutor in ESL and remedial reading programs. I co-chaired the district's Special Services Committee which was instrumental in improving special education services in our schools and having legislation passed establishing learning disabilities as a handicapping condition. I belong to SEPTA and AGATE and am a board member, and past president of the community Scholarship Fund. I serve on the board of the Community Chest, am a committee chair of Cancer Care and belong to RFMBPW. In 2003 I was named to the Women's Roll of Honor by the Town of North Hempstead.
I'm finishing my second term on the board of education and have served as its vice- president for the past two years. I chair the Facilities and Curriculum Committees and have been a member of the Policy, Community Relations and Construction Committees as well as a liaison to Parents' Council, The Safe Alcohol and Drug Free Task Force and the Citizens' Advisory Committee on the Landfill.
I have a Master's in Education and a Professional Diploma in School Psychology from Queens College. Prior to retirement, I was a member of a school based support team and committee on special education in New York City and an adjunct clinical supervisor at St. John's University. I've worked as an engineering aide and am currently an associate in an architectural firm.
I am running for school board trustee to take an active role in the shared decision-making and policy setting processes that impact public school education in our community. I share the community's common interests in fiscal accountability, quality services, educational excellence, challenging athletic programs and team sports, and preserving the environment. And, I feel the pain of rising taxes facing Port residents, without exception.
For the past several weeks, I have been saying, "Business as usual" is no longer an acceptable approach during this time of budget crisis. Many taxpayers are saying, "No more!" to rising costs that impact their quality of life. We need to be responsive to the legitimate concerns of our residents and businesses in a timelier manner.
I am qualified and capable of fulfilling the responsibilities of a school board trustee. My business credentials span a 20-year career in finance, working for a large bank and insurance company. During that time, I was a commercial real estate mortgage banker/VP, construction lender in CRA (Community Reinvestment Act), comptroller, assistant treasurer, and investment manager/VP. I have a BS in Accounting; I attended business school and received credit training while a bank officer.
I am prepared to be pro-active in balancing the educational needs of our students with the financial capabilities of the entire community. I have the capability, enthusiasm and time to provide:
I have been a Port resident, along with my husband and daughter, since 1996. Since I left the world of corporate finance four years ago, I have taken a more active role in the life of my family and involved myself in many community organizations. I have served as Manorhaven School PTA co-president, presidents and principals committee, compact committee and safety committee within the district; Port Washington Parents' Council member; the Port Washington Education Foundation board member; Friends of the Sands Point Preserve board member and treasurer; Sands Point Civic Association member; Friends of the Library member; Religious School committee, capital campaign committee and Sisterhood board member of The Community Synagogue.
Also, I have a special appreciation for diversity within our community. I possess a Latino heritage and I was raised in a home where Spanish was the spoken language. I am sensitive to cultural issues and share in cultural pride. Acting as a written and oral translator and helping families communicate their needs and concerns at Manorhaven School has been a rewarding experience.
Most importantly, I have business expertise and experience along with working knowledge of the school system and community affairs that makes me a qualified and worthy candidate. I have the capability and enthusiasm to dedicate myself to being a school board member. I will add value to the existing mix of school board members and work together to preserve pride in our community's schools.
I was raised in Flushing, New York where I attended Brooklyn Technical High School a public school in NYC. I attended NYU undergraduate and graduate school where I majored in accounting. I have successfully started and acquired several firms in different industries and today my main firm is a window manufacturing and public construction firm. We currently manufacture the highest rated windows in the United States. During the past two years I have developed two new products that patents are being applied for.
I have lived in Port Washington for over 20 years with my wife and three children. I have always had a strong sense of community service and have served in Port Washington as Girl Scout leader, Cub Scout leader, Soccer coach, member of Board of Senior Citizens' center, started a successful scholastic chess program (which was twice written up in Newsday and became the model for chess clubs throughout the area) which has competed and won numerous national awards, and of course served as a member of the school board for six years.
During my six year tenure on the school board I helped raise the reading ability of our students by replacing the whole language approach with a more balanced approach to reading. I successfully sought and received settlements from two vendors for inferior work. I expanded the after school programs for our students at all ages. I successfully challenged numerous contracts resulting in substantial savings. When the majority of the board wanted a $90 million dollar construction bond, I pointed out the fallacies and proposed a $45 million bond instead which was later raised by members of the board to $69 million. I have been an invited speaker at the New York State School Boards Association meeting in Albany. I changed our math program to be one of the top on Long Island (it was written up in Newsday as well as being received by other administrators in other districts who called to talk to me about it). I successfully negotiated many of our contracts saving the district many resources. I passed as president two budgets and a bond issue and brought fiscal stability and accountability to the district. I also brought an open honesty to the school board.
I have decided to run again because I am frustrated with the waste, abuse, half truths, secret illegal meetings, lack of safety concerns, and the poor results of our students in reading by the current school board.
Over 115 residents signed the petition to place Mr. Zausner on the ballot. Zausner is running on a platform of eliminating frivolous spending and improving test scores by way of curriculum shaping. "The school board needs to realize that before one more penny is spent, it will mean increased taxes; which the people of Port Washington just cannot afford. Nassau County reassessment has in some cases tripled the amount of taxes people pay, and people on a fixed income are being forced from the community they helped to build. This is just plain wrong, and needs to be stopped." Zausner believes that since many school districts with higher test scores are doing it for less, why can't we?
Eric Zausner has lived his entire life in Port Washington; he attended the Port Washington school system. He served as the secretary of the Port Washington North Civic Association. In addition, Zausner is a former volunteer for a Port Washington temple. He was a correspondent for a local Port Washington newspaper, covering the school board. As a Schreiber student, he lobbied elected officials for the betterment of the schools and students. At the age of 21, if elected, he will be among the youngest elected officials in state history. Currently, he is pursuing a bachelor of fine arts degree at C.W. Post. His work experience is in both the private and public sectors. He is currently employed by Nassau County.