News Sports Opinion Obituaries Contents
News

This year's school board election has three incumbents seeking re-election to three-year terms. They are Dr. Roy Nelson, Dean Nardone, who are both seeking third terms, and Larry Greenstein, who is currently filling out the

unexpired term of David Strom. Two relative newcomers, Pat Foye and Pete Forman are running for the first time, along with Roger Lifson, who ran once before.

These three gentlemen are running a "slate" they've called "Nine Daughters," because they have nine daughters among the three of them, and, of course, share common philosophies on education and spending.

As we have been doing in the past, Port News asked the six candidates a series of questions on issues that we think the school community and taxpayers would find relevant. The candidates were also asked to provide a bio.

The school board election and budget vote is being held Tuesday, May 16 from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. at the Weber/Flower Hill All-Purpose Room on Campus Drive.

Here's what the candidates wrote.

I am currently managing member and chief operating executive of various real estate entities involved in both the operations and development of commercial real estate. I am also managing member of an entity that invests in a wide variety of investment situations.

I was CEO and president of a public company in the high-tech business services sector. We had over one million customers and at the time of its recent sale, over 500 employees. I was a founder of the company and served on its public board for over 10 years.

I currently serve as chairman of an independent citizens committee of the Board of the Port Washington School District with the focus of examining the short and long-term capital expense requirements of the district as well as funding sources thereof.

I graduated from the Wharton School (B.S. Econ) of the University of Pennsylvania in 1983.

I have lived in Port Washington since 2000 with my three daughters and my wife, Dorette, who is a former teacher in both NY and NJ. We are members of the Community Synagogue.

1- What is your analysis of the current proposed budget?

I will be voting in favor of it but have concerns about how it was

handled. There was an opportunity to vote a slightly lower budget and avoid a budget battle (again) this year. The board chose to pass on the opportunity for agreement and instead chose the path that will lead to risk of budget failure.

The board needs to show respect for all the taxpayers while also

maintaining educational excellence. There are clearly opportunities for saving money in the budget without damaging education and opportunities to grow the confidence of the taxpayers that their money is well invested and spent. With that said, I repeat that I will be voting in favor of the budget.

2- In what areas would you specifically change it?

For $250,000 out of a total budget of $110,000,000 the board chose to sidestep a budget compromise. Surely in a budget this large this small amount could have been found without damaging the curriculum or extra-curricular activities. Since there is no opportunity to revise it now, I would encourage voting for it. But in the future, business skills must be brought to bear to examine where the dollars are spent, look for alternate sources of revenues (other than the local taxpayers), and work to form a new consensus in the community.

3- The teachers contract expired last June and has not been settled yet. What, if any, would your priorities be in changing the teachers

contract...and would you have a sense of urgency in reaching an

agreement?

I have great respect for the teachers. As a member of the Nine Daughters slate, I have three daughters--one at each level (elementary, middle, and high school). I know firsthand how dedicated they are to the children. My wife is also a former elementary teacher. To attract top teachers one must compensate them competitively and fairly. In order to continue our history of having fine teachers, we must also make sure that we pass budgets and that we negotiate fair contracts--fair to the teachers and to the taxpayers. I do not know where the negotiations are between the district and the teachers, but I would encourage flexibility on all sides to achieve a contract fair to all.

4-Port's teachers are currently paid in the top third in Nassau

County---would you change that?

No. You can't have teaching excellence without well paid teachers. We want (to continue) to attract top talent. With that said, we must show the discipline in the many areas in which we spend money in order to earn the confidence of the taxpayers. For without approved budgets, we don't have the money to attract top teachers. We will be aggressive to find ways to save money and find new sources of money.

5-What are your thoughts on unions? Have you had any prior experience negotiating or being represented by a union?

Over the years I have been an observer at and party to negotiations with unions. In order to succeed one must firstly respect what the unionized employees do. Clearly in Port there should be no debate about the quality of the teachers. Our teachers are professionals and are to be highly respected. Secondly, one must continue to remind both sides (and oneself) that it must be a win-win situation. We depend not only upon the good services of the teachers and other unions, but we also need to preserve morale. The teachers need to understand the economics of the district and must show respect for the taxpayers. There are many taxpayers who are hurting from the tax increases. Above all else, both sides must remember that to a large extent we sink or swim together.

6-What educational area needs the most attention in our district?

Overall we deliver a fine education. I am pleased with the quality of

the classes which my children attend. We need to depend on the formally trained educators, like Dr. Gordon, to guide us in this area. I won't pretend to be an expert in the minutiae of the different curriculum. But I do know that if you don't have the resources to pay for the education, it won't make a difference which curriculum you choose. So, while there are areas for improvement, let's let the experts guide us.

7-How would you address it?

We need to build a community consensus around what values are important to us. And we need to look at other similar communities to which we can compare ourselves. We have left the "world" we used to live in where school budgets were easily accepted. We are now like real businesses -- we need to deliver excellent product (education), we need to operate excellently (save where we can, generate additional revenues where we can), and we need to maintain the support of the customers and shareholders (parents and taxpayers). Just like the "real" world.

8-What do you think about the athletic program in the district?

Well-rounded citizens need more than classroom time to make them

responsible, contributing adults. We need to support both athletics and other extra-curricular activities. A lot of who each and every one of us is today, is partly built upon what we did outside the classroom.

9-How do you feel about book banning?

I do not intend to review books or ban them. The role of the board is to hire and evaluate the CEO (the superintendent). He is a real educator. We are not. We must rely on him and his staff to decide what are appropriate materials for the children. If he were to be so out of step with the community, then a change might be needed. I don't believe that we are anywhere near that issue, though.

10- How would you fund the several million dollars needed for

replacement roofs at the various buildings? How about the track?

No one should be surprised that the voters are concerned about the

long-term financial responsibility of the board. After a $68 million

bond, there is just no excuse for having at least three schools with

hazardous and leaking roofs. Some of that bond should have gone to

fixing rather than building. As the chair of an independent committee

of the board, informally known as the "Capital Expense" Committee, we are reviewing the facts and developing methods to deal with the still significant expenditures required to fix our buildings.

Yes it is a disappointment. But that is what happens when the basics of business are not followed. We own these buildings. We must maintain them. And it is far cheaper to maintain than replace (roofs for example). So we will develop a 10-year (not one year) capital expenditures plan. We will share it with the community at large. We will allocate appropriate monies to maintain these investments of ours. And will work to build consensus around what is required.

11-What are your thoughts on local property taxes as being the primary method for the funding of public schools?

I don't see the political will to change the funding from the way it is

now. Long Island contributes far more to the state (which gets

distributed elsewhere in the state) than it receives back. We've got to

work together to bring that back into alignment. Until then, we must keep an eye on costs on alternate funding sources while maintaining educational excellence. Let me remind all of us, that part of the values in our homes is the reputation of the school district. People seek this area out to live in, in part, because of this reputation. Meanwhile, taxpayers need their disposable income to live.

It is a balance.

12 -What is the biggest strength and weakness of the current board?

The board has improved overtime. They are still out of touch with about 50 percent of the voters who vote. One cannot propose budgets without respecting the needs of those whose own personal budgets are stretched.

While I have no doubt that their intentions are noble, those intentions

don't get budgets passed. And compromise budgets are worse than failed budgets. They are, sadly, out of touch. We need change.

13- If elected, what could you add to it?

I am, as are other Nine Daughters members, seasoned business people. We will take a tough look at non-classroom and non-extra-curricular activities, we will look for all opportunities to save money while maintaining educational excellence, and will work to restore the confidence of the community and build a new consensus. I know, as "just" a member of the community, how I feel about the current board. In the future, I want the board to be respected as a serious, well-run, business-like entity which respects and fights for the needs of the

taxpayers while maintaining and enhancing the education and development of the precious children of our fine neighborhoods.

I am president and CEO of a health and human service not for profit serving the poor and people in need on Long Island. Prior to that, I was an executive vice president of a S&P 500 real estate investment trust for a number of years and a mergers & acquisitions partner at an international law firm based in Manhattan for many years. While a lawyer, I was managing partner of the law firm's Brussels, Budapest and Moscow offices for three years. I am currently vice chairman of the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) and am a director of the New York State Public Asset Fund which holds approximately $2 billion of stock in a public HMO on behalf of New York State. Finally, I'm a co-founder and director of a money management firm with approximately $2 billion under management.

I graduated Fordham College (B.A., History and Philosophy, Honors Program) and Fordham Law School (J.D., Associate Editor of Fordham Law Review). I was honored to be honored by Residents for a More Beautiful Port Washington last year, along with Legislator Craig Johnson, who actually deserved the honor. For a number of years, I was on the board of the Port Washington Library Foundation. My wife, Suzanne Matthews, taught elementary school in Manhattan and our three daughters attend the Port Washington public schools. We are members of St. Peter of Alcantara parish.

1- What is your analysis of the current proposed budget?

The budget is not perfect but the members of the Nine Daughters Slate are voting for it and urge the community to vote for it as well. A budget failure, following a year of contingency, could be disastrous for our schools and for the values of our homes. Having said that, many in our community are feeling the burden of double digit increases in school and other taxes. They must be assured that every dollar is being scrutinized and spent wisely and that innovative approaches are being reviewed to save money outside the classroom where we can. Regrettably, I don't believe the community feels that confidence today.

2- In what areas would you specifically change it?

The board made a gross misjudgment when it rejected the compromise budget that the Nine Daughters Slate--Forman, Foye and Lifson-- negotiated with the PWEA, with the support of the board's leadership. As a business matter, the board could have achieved a year of budget calm and reduced the risk of budget failure to near zero by approving a budget that, while perfect in the eyes of no one, was acceptable to both the board and the PWEA and the larger community. Our children and teachers and all of us may yet feel the pain of that gross misjudgment.

3- -The teachers contract expired last June and has not been settled yet. What, if any, would your priorities be in changing the teachers contract...and would you have a sense of urgency in reaching an agreement?

I am married to a former elementary school teacher. Teachers like other professionals must be treated with respect and dignity. The board should move to reach a fair, reasonable settlement with the teachers as soon as practicable. That contract must reflect the times in which we live and pay the teachers fairly but be consistent with agreements reached in other districts. Of course, a fair, reasonable contract requires a bilateral negotiation. Like other members of the community not privy to the details of the on-going contract discussions, I cannot comment on specifics as I do not know them.

4-Port's teachers are currently paid in the top third in Nassau County---would you change that?

No.

We all want schools committed to excellence at a price the community can support. To have superior schools, we must continue to hire top tier educators and pay them competitive salaries and benefits. That benefits the children who attend our schools and all of us whose homes are enhanced by quality schools. The message of last year's budget votes and the political failure of the school board that led to contingency is that many in Port are suffering from financial pressure. That is a reality, is unlikely to change suddenly and responsible leaders must take it into account and be creative and think outside the box. The Nine Daughters Slate is prepared to do that.

5-What are your thoughts on unions? Have you had any prior experience negotiating or being represented by a union?

I have been a union member (Local 32B-J), and attended Fordham College, the Harvard of the Bronx, on a union scholarship without which I would not have been able to go to Fordham. I have strong working relations with unions on Long Island and nationally. As a lawyer, I represented unions on occasion in connection with corporate acquisitions and serve with union leaders on various boards including that of the Long Island Association and others.

6- What educational area needs the most attention in our district? First, the educational product delivered by the school district is very good. Dr. Gordon is right to cite the many successes of Schreiber, for instance, in terms of admission to elite colleges and graduation rates. That should all be a matter of community pride. Second, there is room for improvement in many areas and areas in which we lag behind our peer communities. Third, this all must be done in a manner that the community can afford and support. Finally, we must remember the needs of special needs children and gifted children and ensure that their specific needs are addressed.

7- How would you address it?

I suggest that the district continue the good work begun by Dr. Gordon and his team and adopt a systematic method with extensive community involvement of developing objective standards in academics, the arts, college acceptances, elementary and middle school reading and math results and so on by which the board, administration and community will judge progress toward educational excellence over a multi-year period. The district would report to the community on a yearly basis as to these agreed metrics and report successes and areas in which we have not met goals as well as plans to improve performance in lagging areas.

8- What do you think about the athletic program in the district? Athletics are an important part of school life. We must in a financially responsible way provide as many children as possible the opportunity to play inter-school or intramural sports. Research shows that students who participate in sports in school are more likely on average to graduate and to avoid trouble outside the classroom. Go Port!

9- How do you feel about book banning?

I am against it. I served on the Board of the Port Washington Library Foundation and love books, reading and learning. I believe strongly in the First Amendment. Finally, if elected, I do not intend to be involved in micro-managing the administration, principals or teachers or selecting individual books. They are educators; I am not.

10- How would you fund the several million dollars needed for replacement roofs at the various buildings? How about the track? First, credibility has to be restored. For instance, many parents, teachers and taxpayers ask: why following a $68 million expenditure on our schools, do we have leaking and potentially hazardous roofs? I have not heard a satisfactory answer to that question. Second, Peter Forman's good work on the Long-Term Capital Committee has begun to establish a framework to systematically analyze the district's physical needs and to develop a plan to address those needs. Third, we need to build a fact-based case for the whole community that these needs must be addressed and that further delay will not only endanger our students, teachers and staff in school but will in the end cost the community more. Finally, I commend the work of the Go Turf working group for their work on Whitney Field and pledge to work with them to help access non-district funds for the track.

11- What are your thoughts on local property taxes as being the primary method for the funding of public schools?

First, today, we have to live and manage in the funding system that exists now. Board members and managers must manage in the world of reality. There is a need to study school expenditures, ways to save expense outside the classroom, and ways to make sure Long Island is treated fairly in school funding formulae. Port Washington is blessed with gifted and influential state and county legislators--Assemblyman DiNapoli, Senator Balboni and Legislator Johnson come to mind. Working with them closely may help develop ways to better operate today.

12- What is the biggest strength and weakness of the current board?

The current board and its predecessors since 1999 have a remarkable record of failure demonstrated in their consistent inability to convince the community to vote to approve school budgets and bond issues. Despite years and years of service, the district has no long-term plan, no facilities plan, no capital plan. You get the idea. The biggest strength of the board is that they mean well. That is no longer sufficient. Their well-intentioned actions and separation from the financial reality facing many taxpayers in Port Washington has hurt our children, the professionals who teach them and the reputation of the Port Washington Schools. It is time for a change.

13- If elected, what could you add to it?

The Nine Daughters Slate is comprised of experienced businesspeople with expertise in different areas. We will bring a focus on non-classroom expenses, combined with thinking outside the box as witnessed by the agreement we negotiated with the PWEA with the support of the board's leadership. We also respect the concerns of taxpayers who pay the bill which, by the way, includes not only those on fixed incomes but many parents of school children who are feeling the financial stresses of life in Port Washington. Finally, we will urge all to take a deep breath, reflect on the blessings we have as residents of Port and appreciate that we must treat those who have different opinions or perspectives with respect. Between us, we have years of experience on public, private, corporate and not-for-profit boards and will bring to a board which has often witnessed strong emotions the ability to work and play well with others. The Nine Daughters Slate asks for your support.

After being a district critic and educational advocate for many years, I came forward to fill a vacant seat and won election to the board of education last year. I regularly attended board meetings for six years before seeking election. Among my activities, I serve as treasurer of Residents for a More Beautiful Port Washington and am a member of their Executive and Finance Committees. I am a former treasurer of Parents Council, past president of the PW Special Education PTA, president of the Nassau Coordinating Council of SEPTAs. I am also currently chairperson of the BOE's Curriculum Committee, and serve on its Budget and Finance, Community Relations and Audit committees. Prior to my election, I was a parent representative on numerous school districtwide committees.

In 2004 I was invited to attend and graduated from Partners In Policymaking a nationwide program for advocates for people with disabilities. A graduate of N.Y.U. , I am a self-employed CPA in private practice. I am also a member of the National Conference of CPA Practitioners and the Financial Planning Association. I am married to Star Anthony and live in Beacon Hill with our two children, Thomas, a fifth grader at Daly, and Kevin, a seventh-grader at Weber.

"I am running for re-election to build upon the positive changes for students and the community that I have begun to accomplish in one short year on the board. I deeply appreciate the trust and support the community has bestowed on me and will continue to work diligently on behalf of every student and every taxpayer."

1- What is your analysis of the current proposed budget?

I have a long history as a critic of the district and of prior boards. In my one year as board member, I have fought to make sure that this budget reflected both the educational needs of the children and the economic realities of our community. A good budget should not be based on an arbitrary number pulled out of someone's hat, but rather it needs to be based on both educational soundness and fiscal prudence. I believe that this budget accomplishes both of those goals. It is the lowest increase in five years, and one of the smallest in Nassau County. Looking ahead, I plan to continue working for a comprehensive road map which takes into account the interrelationship between budget, facilities and curriculum.

2- In what areas would you specifically change it?

I would include more staff training. This investment in existing staff is the best way, as well as the most cost-effective, to make sure that we can continue meeting the demands placed on our system without having to hire consultants, send children out of district, or pay for outside services. Since a large percentage of our budget is personnel who work with our children, giving them the tools necessary will pay large dividends both educationally and economically.

3- The teachers contract expired last June and has not been settled yet. What, if any, would your priorities be in changing the teachers contract ... and would you have a sense of urgency in reaching an agreement?

One of my first responsibilities, as a newly elected board member last May, was to become part of the negotiations. Our goal has been to reach an agreement with the teachers that is fair to the children, the teachers and the community. Arbitrary deadlines in negotiations make as little sense as arbitrary budget numbers. My priorities include: changes that will help the children, such as more collaboration time for teachers; streamlining the process by which changes can be made in curriculum; controlling the skyrocketing cost of benefits; and instituting some form of incentive compensation which won't increase the budget.

4- Port's teachers are currently paid in the top third in Nassau County --- would you change that?

Like many statistics, this one must be put into context. Our schools rank in the top third in many ways, most of which, frankly, our taxpayers expect - including the percentage of children who graduate, and the percentage who go on to college. But our costs per pupil are less than those of our seven neighboring North Shore districts. Rather than making apples-to-oranges comparisons, I think it's more useful to look at whether we are finding the right balance between attracting good staff and keeping a watchful eye on the taxpayers' money.

5-What are your thoughts on unions? Have you had any prior experience negotiating or being represented by a union?

The 1967 NYS Taylor Law protects the rights of public employees, including teachers, to bargain collectively. I have been a part of the negotiations with the teachers' union this year, and have forcefully fought for changes in the contract that will benefit the children and control rising benefit costs while being fair to the staff and the taxpayers; I hope to continue to do so. The fact is that this board has not reached an agreement, and will not do so until we are satisfied that the best interests of the children and community are being met.

6-What educational area needs the most attention in our district?

As the chair of the Curriculum Committee I work closely with the district on all aspects of curriculum, with an eye toward improving both effectiveness and accountability. I think we need to work harder to make sure teachers have the tools necessary to reach students at every level of ability, and at every grade level. Too many students do not have their needs met. We also need to come up with better ways to assess the effectiveness of our curricula, in addition to relying on the test scores that we now have plenty of. Finally, I believe that the middle school needs a good, hard look, both at curriculum, and school operations.

7-How would you address it?

It is the mission of the district to provide students with the skills and knowledge that they need to become successful adults. We are not there yet. I worked to address this issue for many years before joining the board, one short year ago, and will continue to do so within the constraints of the current budgetary climate. As chair of the board's Curriculum Committee, I lobbied for the creation of a Middle School Task Force to look comprehensively at Weber. The board expects their report later this year, and I expect it will lead to an even better middle school.

8-What do you think about the athletic program in the district?

Athletics, along with academics, the arts, and civic responsibility are the four pillars of our district's educational philosophy. In each area, the key is to provide students with the opportunity to spread their wings. I am proud that all of our teams are scholar-athlete teams, which means that students are required to maintain adequate grades in order to participate. If future budgets allow, I would like to see an expansion in the number of athletic opportunities, so that we can field first-rate competitive teams while creating more chances for other children to participate. We also need to review the training and supervision process for coaches.

9-How do you feel about book banning?

I oppose book banning. I am in favor of teaching children critical thinking skills so that they can make intelligent decisions about the merits of everything they read.

10- How would you fund the several million dollars needed for replacement roofs at the various buildings?

How about the track?

The care and maintenance of our facilities goes beyond bricks and mortar. They are a vital part of the educational process, in that they protect the health and safety of our children and provide a healthy environment in which to learn. Therefore the facilities needs of the district must be a continuing part of the regular budget, and not the 'last added, first cut.' As a member of the board's Budget & Finance Committee this year, I strongly pushed for the creation of a citizens' advisory committee to look into this matter, and make recommendations. There are no simple solutions to 30 years of under-funding capital projects. As a CPA and board member I address this issue from both my private and public financial backgrounds.

11- What are your thoughts on local property taxes as being the primary method for the funding of public schools?

Nassau County and Port Washington residents pay much more of the state tax burden than is ever returned to us. This must stop. The state must contribute more than the 5 percent it currently returns to us in aid. In addition we need to look at the system of real estate taxes which places a disproportionate burden on those least able to afford it. I will continue to lobby with state and local leaders to redress these issues. I have been pressing for substantive change in this area with elected officials at all levels of government.

12- What is the biggest strength and weakness of the current board?

In our district, we have witnessed a repetitive pattern of having people parachute in with little practical knowledge but who nevertheless claimed to have quick fixes and easy solutions to our problems (e.g. a $35 million bond that turned into a $68 million bond which still didn't cover many of our basic facilities' needs). Each time, there is a heavy price for this naiveté ... and it is paid by the children. As a longtime observer, I am impressed by the extent to which my fellow board members understand the issues, are focused on long-term solutions rather than sound-bite proposals, and are dedicated to delivering a fiscally responsible educational program that meets the needs of all of our students. In the past year, I have been a strong advocate for implementing long-term budget, curriculum and facilities plans, and I plan to continue doing that.

13- If elected, what could you add to it?

I have a long history of being a critic of district practices and policies, and of fighting for the children from the outside. In my one year on the board I have been able to take my deep knowledge of educational issues, a strong desire to do what is right for the community, and a long-term view of improving the system, and use them to become a powerful voice for educational improvement. I have already made a positive difference for the kids of Port Washington and will continue to do so. Complaining is easy; solutions require knowledge, experience and expertise, all of which I offer in this election ... accomplishments not promises.

My wife and I have three daughters, the oldest is at the high school, one is at the middle school and one is at Manorhaven Elementary School.

I am a graduate of the Port Schools and I have an MBA in Finance.

My wife and I moved back to Port Washington in 1994.

I work for a major international financial organization. I am a technology manager. My role is to make sure technology is delivered to the end users. In addition, I am responsible for managing budgets and the implementation of technology projects.

1- What is your analysis of the current proposed budget?

I think the proposed budget is reasonable and I fully support it, will vote for it and urge the rest of the community to vote for it as well.

2- In what areas would you specifically change it?

I understand that there was an opportunity to present a budget that would not have had significant opposition if the budget was slightly lower. I am convinced that with a slightly smaller budget and no opposition we would have a successful budget vote and put us on the path of rebuilding our district.

3- The teacher's contract expired last June and has not been settled yet. What, if any, would your priorities be in changing the teacher's contract ... and would you have a sense of urgency in reaching an agreement?

I have no priority to change any component of the teacher's contract. However, having said that, everyone agrees that contributions to medical benefits should be reviewed. I believe that the teachers are the franchise and we need to let them know that we respect them. Both sides of a negotiation need to agree and undue pressure from one side or the other is counterproductive.

4-Port's teachers are currently paid in the top third in Nassau County --- would you change that?

No. Today we have teachers that are dedicated and provide our children with the necessary skills needed for success in both academics and other areas. If we want quality education we need to pay for it, and paying teachers is money well-spent.

5-What are your thoughts on unions? Have you had any prior experience negotiating or being represented by a union?

I believe in unions and believe that they have the right to negotiate in their best interest. I have no experience negotiating with unions and have never been a member of a union.

6-What educational area needs the most attention in our district? We need to work with the children who are at risk as soon as possible. We need to mentor these children as soon as possible while ensuring that we continue to enhance the programs that we already have in place for our gifted children.

7-How would you address it?

As a district we need to address this with early detection and early intervention. As we are reviewing the data from the state on fourth- and eighth-grade progress, we need to find a way to detect the kids who are at risk as soon as possible and intervene. Waiting until the fourth grade to intervene is too late. Having children at risk is not a reflection on our schools, not doing something about these children is a reflection on the community.

8-What do you think about the athletic program in the district?

We need to support our athletic program with the same vigor that we support our academic program. Some of our children will excel in academics and athletics while some will only excel in athletics or other non-academic areas. We need to ensure that as many of our kids get the opportunity to play on a team as possible. For some this will be their only opportunity to play a competitive team sport and we need to support the program the best that we can.

9-How do you feel about book banning?

The board should not be in the business of micro managing the selection of educational material. I feel very strongly that we must preserve academic freedom. The strong presumption should be that books assigned by our teachers are appropriate. Part of education is exposure to differing viewpoints and experiences.

10- How would you fund the several million dollars needed for replacement roofs at the various buildings? How about the track?

We are not going to be able to fund the majority of these projects from our operating budgets. We will need to go to the Port Washington community and ask them to fund these projects with another bond. The only way we will be able to get the community to fund another bond is to clearly, with full transparency, demonstrate that we have gone through all the non-educational items in our operating budget and proven that we must raise this money with a bond. Confidence in our operating budgets will provide the community with the confidence to vote for the funding of our capital projects.

11-What are your thoughts on local property taxes as being the primary method for the funding of public schools?

Best solution when considering the alternatives. I don't think that an income tax redistributed by a larger municipal entity would be very effective. We need some new and innovative thinking on this and I look to our state legislators and the incoming governor to sort that out. This isn't a Port Washington issue, this is statewide issue.

12-What is the biggest strength and weakness of the current board?

I think that the current board is unable to respond to the economic realities with regard to taxes and they don't seem to be willing to engage our largest constituency, taxpayers without kids in the system. The community at large feels that there is too much administrative overhead and this board is voting for another administrative position this year. We have a vocal aging population and they want to ensure that their tax dollars are being well-spent. No one is saying that they don't want to fulfill their social contract; they are saying that they don't have confidence in the manner in which their tax dollars are being spent.

13-If elected, what could you add to it?

We need to present budgets that will continue our educational mission but also will address the concerns of our taxpaying community. In the past when budgets have failed previous boards resubmitted the same budget a second time. The Nine Daughters slate will get the budget right the first time.

Background:

Born, raised and educated in PW Schools. Graduated from SUNY Albany with a BS in Business and a minor in Computer Science in 1982. Married for almost 13 years with a 12-year-old sixth-grader and a 9-year-old fourth-grader. Recruiter and just celebrated 15 years as a small business owner. Active at St. Stephens, PYA, PAL and New Salem Civic Association. School Board 1998-2001 and 2003 - present

My reasons for running:

I look at this role as the ultimate in community service. Having been raised here, instead of feeling like I have two kids, I feel like I have 6,000 kids and 35,000 relatives! Despite substantial belt tightening, (comparatively we spend millions of dollars less than neighboring districts) the district is turning out amongst the highest level of graduates in Nassau County. The district is receiving $2.5 million worth of lighting and other energy work at virtually no cost to the taxpayers. The bond was completed $600,000 under budget. I know that I have done my part to make that happen. This town needs straight talk from experienced board members and anyone who has ever spoken to me about an issue, knows my opinion.

1) What is your analysis of the current proposed budget?

Quality education costs. I have examined multiple budgets throughout New York State. This is amongst the lowest increases in the entire state. I am troubled that we are not being realistic with our town. That they will expect this level every year from now on. The mechanic for my car laughed when I asked him to keep his increases under 5 percent.

2) In what areas would you specifically change it?

I asked the board on multiple times to increase the funds to replace roofs. All too often PW has delayed in keeping its schools in proper condition and it always costs more in the long run. Replacing the roof at Manorhaven School is costing the district hundreds of thousands more now than if the roof had been replaced as part of the 2004 roof bond. This year's budget increase would have been only 4.25 percent if the board had chosen to not put any money towards replacing roofs.

3) The teachers' contract expired last June and has not been settled yet. What, if any, would your priorities be in changing the teachers' contract ... and would you have a sense of urgency in reaching an agreement?

As everyone in town knows health care costs have gone through the roof. Everyone in town also knows the taxpayers need a breather. The teachers understand what is going on and appear to want to resolve this to everyone's benefit. I try and be realistic, look at what other settlements have been and ask the teachers to work with us. The same way I don't want budget problems to be resolved on the backs of the children; I also don't want it on the back of our staff or taxpayers. There is a happy meeting spot and I hope we will get there soon.

4) Port's teachers are currently paid in the top third in Nassau County --- would you change that?

The toughest part about being on a school board is realizing what you can change and what needs years of work before it may change. If the district could easily terminate that small percentage of teachers that aren't as effective as the great majority this would be a much different question. Reality is the district can't, so the most important thing is to retain high quality teachers and one of the ways you do that is by providing a great environment with solid compensation. I don't want our kids to be the training ground for teachers that leave to go to better paying districts and PW's children would then be taught by those who couldn't get hired at any other district.

5) What are your thoughts on unions? Have you had any prior experience negotiating or being represented by a union?

I was baptized into being a trustee in my first few months on the board in 1998 by catching the tail end of a difficult negotiation. By taking a firm and fair stance the board got a longer school year and day than most districts. I don't believe the subsequent negotiations were nearly as beneficial for either the students or the taxpayers.

6) What educational area needs the most attention in our district?

Foreign language in the elementary schools. I know that there are ways to do this without adding to staff. To continue to broaden the Advanced Placement classes that are available to students that aren't normally AP students. To make sure that differentiated instruction is carried out in each and every classroom each and every day. To make sure that the supports that have been instituted to help those in need continue to be successful. Dr. Gordon's vision has been clear, the best way to bring up the middle child is to raise the challenge to both the top students and those in need. The impressive gains in those graduating with Regents diplomas and the overall HS graduation rate while neighboring districts have declined are testament that his vision is working.

7) How would you address it?

Despite the fact that the district grew by 75 children this year (enrollment has grown by 700 since 1998/9), the kindergarten enrollment has leveled off and hopefully as the largest classes (they are currently in MS) in recent decades work up to the HS the district will be in a position to reallocate dollars from the elementary end of the district to the secondary level.

8) What do you think about the athletic program in the district?

I am proud to say that I was a key reason we had the first board level review of our athletic program in many years. The good news is that we have an unprecedented number of teams that are scholar athletes. The bad news is that due to lack of adequate field space, Port's teams will continue to operate at a disadvantage. Hopefully AAPW will be successful in their valiant effort to install "Field - Turf" on Campus Drive. I'd also encourage all to contribute while a generous Port family has agreed to provide matching funds to all locally raised money.

9) How do you feel about book banning?

Having been a trustee for six years, through some turbulent times, the pressure placed upon the staff about the book In the Time of Butterflies (by the way, a great book) was one of the most embarrassing. There are so many checks and balances that if a book gets to the board and the board has a problem with it, that is an indicator of much bigger problems.

10) How would you fund the several million dollars needed for replacement roofs at the various buildings? How about the track?

The failing roofs from 2004 roof bond did not go away, they just got more expensive to fix. I am proud that in my return to the board and as facilities chair we went from ZERO dollars to replace roofs to 250k in my first year back and 500k this year. The reality is that the only prudent thing to do is to once again try and pass a small bond to replace the 1920s Weber roof, as well as the rest of the Schreiber and Sousa roof that has yet to be scheduled. It will be a sad day if the grandstand or the track need to be closed to all because the board doesn't have enough backbone to fight for what is right. Other ideas that others will try and sell you like reserve funds, annual monies in the budget are only effective when you are ahead of the curve. We need to get ahead of the curve.

11) -What are your thoughts on local property taxes as being the primary method for the funding of public schools?

Stinks. The board's job is to create a fair budget. Secondly it is to try and lobby to fight injustices like the burden property taxes are placing on both our commercial and residential property owners.

12) What is the biggest strength and weakness of the current board?

Biggest strength is its experience. When I got on the board in 1998, I often wondered why Port couldn't keep a stable board. We are now in the position for the first time in years to do it. Myself and Dr. Nelson, Mrs. Cowles have already done this for six years. Mark Marcellus and Rob Seiden were re-elected last year. Jean-Marie Posner and Larry Greenstein have both spent considerable time in the schools. Since we are all volunteers, this is one position where you pay the same for those with expertise as you would for those who have none. A primary focus of this year's board was listening. We finally succeeded in hosting a community forum that was fantastic. We made the budget process incredibly transparent, so that people could ask any question they wanted and get answers. Biggest weakness is trying to please everyone. Hate to be a realist again but you can't.

13) If elected, what could you add to it?

All I can bring is what I have brought for the last six years ... passion and straight talk. If you don't care about every one of those 6,000 kids and each and every one of those 35,000 "relatives" that make up Port Washington being a trustee on the BOE is not the spot for you.

I am committed to education, serving Port Washington on the board of education and founding member of the Port Washington Educational Foundation. In addition, I serve the community as a board member of the Port Washington Children's Center and the Community Chest. I have lived in Port for 26 years, and have the perspective that comes from all three of my children having gone through the district's schools and graduating from Schreiber. I am an experienced leader, schooled in public administration, management and finance and committed to using my experience and education to help the students, district and the community.

At a time when the dollars coming from the state are meager and are not even meeting the burdens that increasing state requirements add, I have and will continue to work creatively, increasing value for money spent, improving efficiency and decreasing the costs to slow the tax increases and better serve Port's children. During my tenure the school board negotiated a guaranteed savings in heat and electricity with an Energy Performance Contract. My tenure on the board was marked by the institution of a Class Size Policy designed to guarantee our students the proper learning environment.

As our school board representative I oversaw the successful completion of new school construction under budget. I will provide experienced leadership to continue the achievements in graduation rates, Regents' diploma rates and test scores. Having shepherded my three children through the entire school system and remained involved after their graduation, I have shown that I have the proper perspective, experience, maturity and interest do the best job.

As a physician and educator, specializing in Thoracic and Cardiovascular surgery for 26 years, my life has been one of service. I continue to serve as a volunteer physician for the New York City Marathon as well as the Road Runners Club of New York. I am also the medical director for Port's Thanksgiving Day race. I studied Public Administration and have a master's degree (with emphasis on finance) from the Robert Wagner Graduate School of Public Service at NYU.

1- What is your analysis of the current proposed budget?

This proposed budget is the best budget we could put forth. It was carefully prepared, balancing the need to educate students with a desire to limit the increases to taxpayers. We know that the increase is quite modest by comparing it to prior increases in Port - it is the lowest increase in 5 years, including a contingency year. In addition, in comparison to other budget increases in our area - it is also the lowest. This budget maintains Port position as the one with the lowest per-pupil costs in our area. More importantly, at a time when student achievement is at an all time record high, it provides for modest increases to maintain the momentum, to meet the needs due to increased enrollment in the high school and the costs due to increased state requirements in the face of stagnant and inadequate state aid.

2-In what areas would you specifically change it?

While this is the best budget we could present, I believe that we could do even more for our students if we had a larger budget -- but that would be fiscally irresponsible. This isn't a budget with frills in it. Eighty cents out of every dollar goes into direct teaching. Our auditors have told us that Port has the tightest budget of any they have examined. In the face of wonderful student achievement, Port still has struggling students - some barely making it and others not making it at all. I would love to have the resources so that we may better meet the needs of these students.

3- The teachers' contract expired last June and has not been settled yet. What, if any, would your priorities be in changing the teachers' contract ... and would you have a sense of urgency in reaching an agreement?

When we entered into negotiations with the teachers' union I believed that we would have reached a negotiated settlement before now. I take no pleasure in the fact that the contract is still not settled. I believe that the sooner the contract is settled, the better off everyone will be. The cornerstone issues for both sides are time and money. If it were easy to resolve these issues there would have had a contract in place before now. I believe that, as the negotiations to date have not produced a new contract, it is time to try new and creative strategies. Recently, I learned of a novel approach to sharing the burden of health care costs and I look forward to working on this with the rest of the board, administration and the teachers and hope that it can move the negotiations forward. My priority, as always, is to continue meeting the need of the students' parents and teachers in the community.

4-Port's teachers are currently paid in the top third in Nassau County --- would you change that?

Yes, our teachers are well paid and I can see how it looks but there is a lot to consider. First, they do an outstanding job. Second, many have been teaching in the district for a long time and as a result, being in the top third in Nassau County reflect the fact that Port has a lot of teachers that are at the upper range of the pay scale. I believe that as older teachers retire and younger teachers are hired the average wages will move downward. However, it is also important to acknowledge that the wages paid to teachers in Port are comparable to the wages paid in our neighboring districts. Teachers deserve the thanks of everyone in Port for the work that they do day in and day out year after year.

5-What are your thoughts on unions? Have you had any prior experience negotiating or being represented by a union?

I believe that the right to organize and bargain collectively are fundamental to the American way and I respect and fully support those rights. In addition, I believe that part of Port's success over the years is a teachers' contract that has been in place for all this time. At one time I was represented by a union and benefited from that representation.

6-What educational area needs the most attention in our district?

I believe, even with an outstanding graduation rate, wonderful Regents' diploma rates, rising test scores, and Intel and Merit scholars, that there are still students struggling in our district and some are not getting by. They need more. The contingency budget forced the elimination of the Alternative High School that served ninth through 12th grades, a program that was in place to help some of the students struggling at the high school. In its place is a program for 9th graders only - leaving a less-than-satisfactory solution for the other grades. It pains me greatly that we, as a district and a community, are not doing more. There are struggling and failing students in the elementary and middle schools whose future would be brighter, with a greater chance at success, if we had the resources to do more for them.

7-How would you address it?

If resources were not limited, the first thing I would do is to recreate an Alternative High School that comprehensively addressed the needs of some of the struggling students in grades nine to 12. Next, I would make sure that that we had enough after school Homework Clubs in each elementary school to meet the specific needs of each school. In addition, I would use the before-school time in the morning for additional support at all levels.

8-What do you think about the athletic program in the district?

I am very proud of the scholar-athlete program where every player on a team must maintain a minimum average. However, I think that we can all agree that we would like our teams to rank higher and the players on each team get meaningful playing time. We are very fortunate in this community to have organizations dedicated to children's' athletics. However, they cannot do it alone. In order to unify the curriculum and control costs the positions of Athletic Director and Health were combined. If funding were to become available I believe that we should look at the pros and cons of having someone focus on athletics full time. My desire is to see that every child has the opportunity to do his or her best. I think that we can do better in providing that opportunity.

9-How do you feel about book banning?

I do not support book banning. I believe that schools are places of learning and that the more opinions, ideas and concepts our children are exposed to the better we, as a district and as a community, fulfill the mission of creating lifelong learners.

10-How would you fund the several million dollars needed for replacement roofs at the various buildings? How about the track?

I believe that the roofs can be done over the next several years through a combination of sources. This year the board put money into the budget to start to fix our buildings and roofs. The Manorhaven roof is on schedule to be redone this summer with Sousa (using money left over from the recent capital construction bond) soon to follow. This year the district will receive more than $1.5 million dollars in capital construction aid (EXCEL - Expanding our Children's Education and Learning). I am certain that we will put that money to good use in addressing the building and roof issues.

Options for funding the track replacement, which is truly a community resource, include seeking support from our elected officials locally, in Nassau County and at the state level as well as seeking funds from individuals, businesses and corporations. All of these sources as well as funds from the district's budget should provide funding to replace the track. I do not believe that the District should be the sole source of funds for something that serves the community - it is just not fair to the taxpayers.

11-What are your thoughts on local property taxes as being the primary method for the funding of public schools?

I believe that using local property taxes as the primary method for funding public schools places an unfair burden on many homeowners. There are those who have lived in their homes for years and watched as their property values have increased and consequently their taxes. I know that there are some that, even with the STAR rebates, will be forced out of town. This saddens me. A fair funding solution lies with Albany. I will continue to work for a fair state funding formula so that Port's residents are not penalized for living in Port.

12-What is the biggest strength and weakness of the current board?

The current board's strength is a combination of experience and an ability to work through differences in order to work together. After years of split boards that held the district back, Port finally has a board where members, although with diverse points of view, do work together. The achievement results across the district are a testimony to the effectiveness of the current board. It takes experience at the school board level, a commitment to move education forward and the ability to cooperate in spite of divergent points of view that makes this current board a model to be emulated. This board has accomplished a lot and is very careful with the taxpayers' money

The experience of individual board members and the time board members work together combine to make an effective board. Consequently, the weakness, and my frustration, is that with elections taking place every year, the board can change every year. When boards change they lose their effectiveness. Port deserves an effective board.

13-If elected, what could you add to it?

I will keep my experience working for our community.

.


LongIsland.com Logo
An Official Newspaper of the
LongIsland.Com Internet Community


| antonnews.com home | Email the Port Washington News|
Copyright ©2006 Anton Community Newspapers, Inc.
All Rights Reserved.

LinkExchange
LinkExchange Member

Farmingdale Observer Floral Park Dispatch Garden City Life Glen Cove Record Pilot Great Neck Record Hicksville Illustrated News Levittown Tribune Manhasset Press Massapequan Observer Mineola American New Hyde Park Illustrated News Oyster Bay Enterprise Pilot Plainview Herald Port Washington News Roslyn News Syosset Jericho Tribune Three Village Times Westbury Times Boulevard Magazine Features Calendar Search Add An Event Classified Contacting Anton News