Mineola ed board trustee to step down, VP seeks re-election

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The current Mineola school board is pictured. Trustee Nicole Matzer (far right) will be leaving at the end of her first full term this June. (Photo from mineola.k12.ny.us)

The Mineola school board will see its third membership change in three years this summer.

Patrick Talty, an 18-year Mineola resident and parent of three, is running unopposed to replace Trustee Nicole Matzer, who is leaving the board in July after four years.

Margaret Ballantyne-Mannion, the board’s vice president, is running unopposed for a second three-year term. She and Talty were the only two to file petitions declaring their candidacy by Monday’s deadline.

Matzer said she is stepping away to spend more time with her husband and two children, but will stay involved with the middle and high school PTAs. She was appointed to the board in 2013 after Vice President Terence Hale resigned; she won a full term in 2014.

“It was really a learning experience,” Matzer said. “I never knew what it took to put together a school year.”

Matzer’s departure follows former board Vice President Patricia Navarra decision last year not to seek a second term. Artie Barnett, a former board president, also decided not to seek re-election in 2015.

Matzer and Ballantyne-Mannion, who was first elected in 2014, said they are proud of introducing new curricular programs to the district and making upgrades to school buildings while sticking to the state’s cap on property tax increases.

“I know we’re taking good care of our students, we’re taking really good care of our facilities and we’re taking good care of our taxpayers,” said Ballantyne-Mannion, 60, a Spanish professor at York College in Queens.

Mineola has sought in recent years to upgrade its aging school buildings and add some new spaces that emphasize technology, such as a “fab lab” at Mineola High School. Administrators have used reserves and other money in annual budgets to pay for those fixes rather than borrowing for them.

Talty, an electrical engineer at Brookhaven National Laboratory, said he wants to build on the work that the board has done in recent years, especially when it comes to building improvements.

Talty also hopes to “build more consensus” among parents on state standardized tests, he said, which support the district’s efforts to provide individualized instruction.

“I want to serve on the board to see that the opportunities that my children have had and will have will be there for the kids that follow,” Talty said.

About a quarter of the district’s third- through eighth-graders opted out of the state’s English tests last month, continuing protests over the national Common Core standards.

While the district got some early pushback from parents on its effort to give iPad tablets to all students, they have since recognized the benefits of classroom technology, Ballantyne-Mannion said.

“I think they’re seeing that the learning is very active and very individualized for the student,” she said.

 Ballantyne-Mannion said she is also looking forward to the expansion of the district’s dual language program, in which students get lessons in English and Spanish; and Mineola High School’s partnership with Queensborough Community College, which is in its first year.

District residents can cast ballots for the two school board seats and the district’s $91.8 million 2017-18 budget on May 16 from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.

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