Friday, 10 May 2013 00:00
Every year at this time residents in Westbury school district look forward to two obligatory procedures that are mandated to take place in order to ensure continuity of the process of educating our children. One is the preparation and adoption of the budget by the school board, which is voted on by the public, and the other is the election of trustees to the school board.
This year’s exercises are of special significance in that for the first time in the history of the district; or at least in recent memory, the school board has adopted a budget with the lowest tax levy ever – 1.67 percent; even lower than the 2 percent tax cap imposed by Gov. Cuomo. Also noteworthy is the fact that for the second time around a three member team of the high school alumni is seeking election to the board. Affectionately referred to as the 516 team because of the numbers drawn to determine their place on the ballot, they were first elected to the board in 2010, and were fortunate again this year to pull the same catchy and significant numbers that served them well, and seemed to have resonated with the public. They are being challenged by an all -male team that includes a former school board trustee, a candidate that ran unsuccessfully for the position last year and another whose dedicated presence at school board meetings and school district activities came as no surprise that he would one day seek to become a school board trustee.
The outcome of this election is of special significance because it is this board that will be charged with the responsibility of deciding who will be the next superintendent of the district after all the vetting preliminaries are completed. This is the first time in fourteen years that a board has been charged with such responsibility. It has been almost a year since the position has been without a permanent fill since Dr. Constance Clark-Snead’s departure, and the temporary appointment to the position in the person of Mary Lagnado.
At a meet the candidates forum sponsored by Central Westbury Civic Association on 4/30/13, the question was asked about the firm that was hired by the school board to assist with this process, and what was the approximate cost to the district. The school board president disclosed that it would cost the district approximately $19,000 dollars for this assignment. This led to the follow-up question as to whether there was a problem in considering the current interim superintendent, Mary Lagnado for the job. The response to this question was interesting, in that none of the contestants seem to have a problem with this idea, and one even mentioned that he liked the idea of having a person with a business background serving in this role. It is not clear if the fact that Ms. Lagnado was present in the audience had anything to do with the collective response, but it was clear that she was being encouraged to throw her hat into the ring.