Manhasset area prepares to go to the polls

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Public school districts throughout the Manhasset area will hold their respective Board of Education elections and budget votes on Tuesday, May 18. (Photo courtesy of Flickr)

BY ROSE WELDON AND ROBERT PELAEZ

Two of the three school districts serving the Manhasset area will see challengers running to unseat longtime incumbents in school board elections on Tuesday.

MANHASSET

While former school board Vice President Ann Marie Curd will not be seeking re-election, incumbent Trustee Carlo Prinzo will, with challengers Frank Bua, Jill Pullano and Erin Royce also competing for two seats on the board.

Prinzo, a Manhasset resident for 27 years and parent of two district graduates, is the second-longest serving member of the board with 15 years to his name. At a May 5 candidate forum held by the League of Women Voters, the lone incumbent said that he felt he brought not only years of experience but “independence” to the table.

“My children have graduated from high schools, I still know all the teachers and all the buildings, and that independence is very important because it allows me to make a decision, intelligently and away from any sway,” Prinzo said. “And I do feel I bring a lot of experience to the table, and that experience is very important to me.”

Bua is a writer and educator, as well as a parent of two students in the Manhasset district. He emphasized the importance of avoiding learning loss at the League of Women Voters forum.

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“We should already have reopening committees, we should already have some workshops to bridge the gaps of learning loss, we should already have a plan to assess precisely where voting losses taken place, and how much we have to catch up,” Bua said.

“We need to be more proactive and less reactive. As an educator, I can tell you how damaging this hybrid model has been for our students, it’s a Band-Aid on a gushing wound. I see kids struggling, daily, I see them addicted to their electronic devices, I see their attention spans waning. If we don’t think this is going to have long-term impact on the educational structure we are fooling ourselves. And so, I hope to use my expertise as an educator, to try to inform the board, what’s going on in the classroom, so that we can really address it.”

Pullano, an 18-year Manhasset resident and parent of two graduates plus a high school junior, is the former treasurer of the Manhasset School Community Association and has served in numerous roles and various committees throughout the district.

“We all have a common goal,” Pullano said at the meeting. “We want our children to be healthy and happy. And we need to focus on providing our students the best education that we can provide for them. Like I said before, they need to be empowered, that’s the best thing that we can do for our students.

“We need to help them to go to be strong, empathetic, mindful, productive, they need to be able to think, to be thoughtful, and to apply critical reasoning and to make informed judgments. Like I said, it all comes down to empowerment, and when you educate the students, that’s the best thing that you can do for them.”

Royce, a 14-year Manhasset resident, is a parent of two elementary students and possesses a background in education, beginning as a school psychologist in the Syosset district and later serving as director of guidance at St. Dominic High School in Oyster Bay. At the League of Women Voters forum, Royce said that she wanted to represent the oft-overlooked parents of elementary-age children.

“I want to see an increase in the flow of communication between our board and our parents of younger children,” Royce said. “Many parents weren’t even aware of the recent discussions to potentially relocate the Munsey Park kindergarten class. Discussions like these need to reach a broader depth of our family. I’d like to take a more active role in planning for changes in our schools, and then articulating them to the community, in particular, a return to normalcy for our kids next year. And if that includes actively challenging decisions handed down from the county in the state, then I am eager to do it.”

Voters will also decide on a $100,659,820 budget for the 2021-22 school year, a 1.17 percent increase from last year’s $99,497,241 budget.

Residents registered to vote can do so on from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at Manhasset Secondary School.

PORT WASHINGTON

Residents of the Port Washington school district will vote for three seats on the Board of Education and on a $167 million budget for the 2021-22 school year on Tuesday.

Three incumbents, President Nora Johnson, Vice President Elizabeth Weisburd and Trustee Larry Greenstein, are running for re-election. They are opposed by three challengers running as a slate  and one independent candidate.

Johnson is a 19-year Port Washington resident, a registered nurse and practicing attorney who has been on the board since 2012. She was elected president two years ago, having previously served as president of the Sousa Elementary Home School Association, co-president of the Schreiber High Home School Association and president of the Community Scholarship Fund, and having co-chaired Relay for Life and served on the board of Port’s ED Foundation.

Weisburd is seeking her third term on the board and chairs the district’s Budget and Facilities Committee. Before becoming a parent, she worked as a special education instructor, and first became involved in the district while advocating for a district bond in the early 2000s, when her children were in preschool.

Greenstein has served on the board since 2005, chairs its Curriculum Committee and prior to that served as president of the district’s Special Education PTA. Active in disability advocacy as a parent of a child with “severe handicaps,” he said, he is a graduate of the Partners in Policymaking training program for disability advocates, a member of the board of Nassau County BOCES, and serves as the secretary-treasurer of the Nassau-Suffolk School Boards Association.  He previously served as treasurer of the former Residents for a More Beautiful Port Washington, now Residents Forward.

The slate of challengers comprises residents Adam Smith, Adam Block and Justin Renna.

Smith runs strategic and financial planning, as well as day-to-day operations, of a New York-based real estate investment and development firm. He is also the emergency preparedness chair and serves on the board of trustees for a local religious institution and preschool. Smith and his wife, Jenny, live in Port Washington North and their three children go to district schools.

Block, a graduate of Schreiber High School, owns and operates Port Skis, a ski equipment rental service based in Port, and is treasurer of Salem Elementary School’s Home School Association. He and his wife have three children, including a pair of fraternal twins, who are all students in the district. Block ran for trustee last year but lost.

Renna is a professional ventilation expert employed by an international HVAC equipment manufacturer and an athletics coach at the secondary and elementary levels, with sports ranging from football and baseball to track and others. He also serves on the board of directors for a local youth sports organization and lives with his wife, Randie, and their two children in Manorhaven.

Also running is the lone independent candidate, Nanette Melkonian.

Melkonian, along with her husband, Matt, moved to the area in 2000, with all three of their children passing through the Port Washington school district. She has spent time as an elementary, secondary and post-secondary special education teacher. Since she moved to Port Washington, Melkonian said, she has kept herself informed on various programs in the school district.  She touted the role that a Board of Education member plays in a school district and community and said she felt this year was the right time to run.

The district will also vote on a budget for the 2021-22 school year. The proposed $167,268,942 budget is an increase of 2.48 percent, or $4,054,079, from the 2020-21 school year’s $163,215,663. The resulting tax levy would increase by 2.067 percent.

Voting will take place in the all-purpose room of the Flower Hill section of the Carrie Palmer Weber Middle School, located at 52 Campus Drive in Port Washington.

HERRICKS

Herricks Board of Education Trustees Brian Hassan and Nancy Feinstein are running unopposed for re-election.

Feinstein, a Roslyn resident, is running for her fourth three-year term on the board. She has three children who have all attended and graduated from Herricks schools.

Hassan, an Albertson resident, is running for his fourth term on the board. He has three children who have graduated from the Herricks schools.

The board unanimously adopted a $122.9 million budget last week, a $2.33 million, or 1.94 percent, increase from the 2020-21 budget.

The budget called for a 1.42 percent increase in the 2021-22 tax levy from this year, but it remained below the state cap of 2.51 percent.

The initially proposed 1.86 percent levy increase was lowered to 1.42 percent as a result of additional state aid. The district’s average levy increase since the cap’s inception in 2012-13 is 1.66 percent.

A total of 75 percent, or $91.6 million, of the budget, is for programming, with 15 percent, or $18.4 million, for capital projects, and the remaining 10 percent of $12.8 million, made up of administrative costs.

The vote for the board and on the budget will take place from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. at the Herricks Community Center gymnasium.

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