Two candidates are seeking to supplant the two incumbent Westbury Board of Education trustees who are up for re-election May 16. Connie LoCascio and Adelaide Brinson were elected to the school board in 1997, and have chosen to run for another three-year term. They are being challenged by Ann Cannon Sweat and Al Handy, who are running together on the same platform.
Here is a brief introduction to the four candidates:
Connie LoCascio is employed by a glassworks manufacturer and attends Nassau Community College part-time. She has served on the Business Improvement District's Board since its inception almost five years ago. Additionally, she finds time to visit with her two grown sons, both graduates of Westbury Schools, and current residents of Westbury.
LoCascio calls herself a "doer," and cites the opportunity to give back to the community as her primary reason for serving on the school board.
She also named the three consecutive passages of the budget as an accomplishment of the board as a whole. "Each time the budget has passed, that is a statement about what we are all about. We are raising test scores, we are raising the children's level of reading, we are on the road to making Westbury a great place to send your kids to school."
Ann Sweat is a Health Information Management Administrator who has lived in Westbury all her life. She has been active in the Westbury School System, making contributions to the Finance, Facilities and Budget Boards.
In 1998, she participated in a Space Findings Project with Assistant Superintendent of Business and Finance Dr. Joan Colvin, in an effort to provide facts and statistics to prove the necessity of a new school or additional space where needed. Sweat claims that overcrowding still plagues the Westbury School system, and it is one of the issues she will be addressing as candidate for the school board.
Sweat said that the heavy burden placed on taxpayers in Westbury is also a concern. "County taxes are rising substantially, and the concern is for taxpayers, particularly seniors, since 76 percent of school tax is paid by residents. The recent sale of the Westbury building to Nassau BOCES was something we should have been informed about, and now we taxpayers have to pay the price," she said.
Sweat was recently honored by the New York State Division for Women and the Nassau County Advisory Council in recognition of Women's History Month.
Adelaide Brinson, a Westbury resident for 26 years, is employed by Winthrop-University Hospital as a nurse. For years, she served as secretary of the Birchwood Knolls Civic Association. Currently, she sits on the board of the Sherwood Civic Association.
"Together, with my fellow trustees, we have seen test scores improve, we have seen greater community involvement with the school, and we have brought excellent people to the district on an administrative level," she said.
Brinson stated that she thinks the biggest challenge the board is facing is the new state regulations which require every student to graduate with a Regents Diploma. "We have to prepare these kids from kindergarten on for these Regents," she said, "and I feel confident we will succeed."
Al Handy, a longtime resident of Westbury, was a former Westbury High School Physical Education teacher from 1969-1996. His four children attended Westbury Schools. Handy also participated in the Open Door Program as an exchange teacher in Brazil, and served as a consultant teacher for the Peace Corps at the University of Texas at Austin.
Currently, he is a member of the Westbury Middle School School-wide Planning and Management Team, the Westbury High School PTSA, and a member of several community organizations.
"Running for a seat on the board simply represents for me another level of involvement in the schools," said Handy. "For many years I have been involved as a teacher, administrator, resident, and most importantly, as a parent of children attending Westbury Public Schools. If elected, my goals are to work with the Superintendent of Schools to raise student achievement and to keep the community fully informed of all issues that impact on the well-being of the community."