The Roslyn School District saw one of its more competitive races in recent years end with a razor-thin margin separating the two candidates vying for the third contested seat on the board.
With all votes counted, incumbent BOE member Ronna Niederman took first place with 802 votes. Karen Bodner came in second place with 723 votes. Maryanne F. Combs and Jill Studley were engaged in an extremely close race for the third seat, with Ms. Combs winning by a two-vote margin, receiving 645 votes to Ms. Studley's 643 votes.
On election night, May 15, Ms. Combs was immediately sworn into office. This was necessary because she is filling in the unexpired term of departing school board member Carol Margiritis. Ms. Bodner will be sworn in this July. She will be taking the seat made vacant by the retirement of longtime BOE member, Alvin Silverman. Voters also approved both the school district's 2001-2002 budget and a vote to continue its current transportation policy.
Looking back on the election, Ms. Combs voiced her gratitude "for all the people who voted and who put the word out before the election." Looking ahead, Ms. Combs said that while serving on the board, she hopes to express the concerns and issues her constituents have. Ms. Combs added that she plans to stay abreast of what's going on in the individual schools in the district and, in general, to "be a good reflection of what the community puts forth" and to continue with the standards and excellence the Roslyn schools have been able to maintain throughout the years.
A first time candidate for the BOE, Ms. Combs ran on a platform stressing character education. In an interview with The Roslyn News, she said she would like the district to take a lead in dealing with character issues "on a daily basis." Ms. Combs also said schools need to add a fourth and fifth "r"---respect and responsibility---to the "three r's" that have long defined American education.
"I'm looking forward to working with the other members on the BOE," Ms. Bodner said the morning after the election. "I'm very happy to have this opportunity. Ms. Bodner said she would not pursue any particular issue once she is sworn in; rather, she hopes to become more informed on the issues that are pending before the board. "I hope to become more educated on the workings of the board and to work on the issues as they develop," she added.
During her campaign, Ms. Bodner said she would support programs that "do not necessarily translate into a letter or number grade." She also supported programs for both special needs and gifted students. As with Ms. Combs and the other BOE candidates, Ms. Bodner stressed programs that will help students feel "safe and secure" in the school buildings. An attorney, Ms. Bodner has also been active on PTA boards at various public schools in the Roslyn district.
Running for her second term on the board, Ronna Niederman was the election's highest vote-getter. "I would like to thank all my supporters in the community for their support and faith in returning me to office," she said. "I am grateful to work for continued educational excellence for all our children in the district. We have a lot of work ahead of us. This is a challenging time for public education. We have to work with a minimum of state aid. We need to encourage student achievement and find courses that meet the needs of all children. We have to continue with values education and help our children become well-rounded human beings."
Ms. Niederman also praised her fellow candidates. "I am looking forward to working with these wonderfully qualified board members," she said, speaking of Ms. Bodner and Ms. Combs. "They will make a difference. They are there for the right reasons."
The school budget for fiscal year 2001-2002 passed by a 914-424 margin. That budget called for $63,063,462 in spending. The estimated tax increase on Class I property will be $6.02 per $100 of assessed valuation. For the average home assessed at $11,700, that comes to an increase of $705 per year or $59 per month. Estimated savings under the STAR program for the average Roslyn home is $672 per year.
The vote to extend the district's current transportation policy for one more year was approved by a 994-320 total. The policy was revised two years ago to provide busing for all students in grades K-8 and reduce mileage to 3/4 miles for students in grades 9-12, all while LIE construction is being completed.
In addition, the Bryant Library's new budget was also approved, by a healthy 960-370 margin.
The Village of East Williston also held budget and school board elections. The 2001-2002 budget passed by a comfortable 922-391 margin. School board incumbent Eleanor Zatlin won her uncontested seat with 923 votes. The other seat was a contest between Lou Karol and Louise Bosnack. Mr. Karol prevailed, winning 886 votes to 675 for Ms. Bosnack.