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, May 18.
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, is a professor of public health at New York Medical College. He received a bachelor’s degree in neuroscience from Amherst College and a Ph.D. in health policy with a concentration in economics from Harvard University. Over the course of his career, he has worked as an economist for the U.S. Congress and wrote regulations for the Department of Health and Human Services.
Block also started the company, Port Skis, a ski equipment rental service based in the area, and is treasurer of Salem Elementary School’s Home School Association. Block, his wife, and their three children all reside in the area, with all three of his children being active students in the school 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 the $167 million budget adopted 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.
Those in the district who are registered to vote can go to the in-person polling location, 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, on Tuesday, May 18.