Mineola school district voters will cast ballots next Tuesday in a race that will likely cause the school board’s third membership change in three years.
Patrick Talty, a Brookhaven National Laboratory engineer and parent of three Mineola students, is running unopposed to replace Trustee Nicole Matzer, who is resigning after four years on the board.
Margaret Ballantyne-Mannion, the board’s current vice president, is also unopposed in her bid for a second three-year term.
Matzer, a stay-at-home mother of two, has said she “just raised [her] hand” when a board seat opened up in 2013 following the resignation of then-Vice President Terence Hale.
She has learned a lot since then about how the school district works, but now wants to spend more time with her family, she said in an interview last month.
“What I’m most proud of in my four years is being part of a board that focused on the students and curriculum and capital improvements while being conscious of our residents and the tax cap,” Matzer said in the interview, referring to the state’s cap on school districts’ annual property tax increases.
Matzer’s departure comes a year after that of Patricia Navarra, who did not seek re-election to a second term last year. Artie Barnett, a former board president, also decided not to run for re-election in 2015.
Talty, 49, has said he decided to run because he wants to help give students the same kinds of opportunities his students have had in Mineola schools.
Talty wants to continue the district’s work to improve its school buildings so that students have an “updated” and “modern” environment in which to learn, he said in an interview last month.
“Public eduction works when people are involved,” Talty, 49, said in the interview. “I think that’s true of any public organization, and certainly in our community that spirit is alive.”
The district has taken up millions of dollars worth of building projects in recent years. This year it is seeking voter approval next Tuesday to spend $4.2 million from a capital reserve fund to help pay for a second gymnasium at Mineola High School and an expansion at the Meadow Drive School.
Ballantyne-Mannion, a 60-year-old Spanish professor at York College in Queens, said she is looking forward to continuing those improvements, as well as building curricular initiatives such as the dual language program, aimed at teaching Spanish to English-speakers, and vice versa, through immersive classes.
Ballantyne-Mannion, first elected in 2014 and named the board’s vice president last year, said she and her fellow trustees have worked to keep the district financially and educationally strong.
“There is no ‘I’ in school board, so it’s all a collective thing,” she said in an interview last month.
In addition to the school board races and the $4.2 million capital reserve spending proposition, district residents will vote on the district’s $94.4 million budget for the 2017-18 school year.
It calls for a 0.89 percent increase in property tax revenue, the maximum allowed this year under the state’s tax cap law.
Polls will be open Tuesday, May 16, at the Jackson Avenue School and the Meadow Drive School from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.