Port elects Alvarez, re-elects Melkonian, Smith and passes budget with tax cap override

Port elects Alvarez, re-elects Melkonian, Smith and passes budget with tax cap override
(From left to right) Port Washington Board of Education President Adam Smith and Trustee Nanette Melkonian were reelected alongside newly elected member Sandra Alvarez. (Photo courtesy of the candidates)

Newcomer Sandra Alvarez defeated Trustee Adam Block, incumbents Nanette Melkonian and Adam Smith were re-elected to the Port Washington Board of Education, the district’s $194.5 million tax-cap piercing budget was approved with more than 70% of the vote on Tuesday.

With a 4.55% tax increase that exceeds the tax cap by 1.16%, the budget was approved with 2,932 votes in favor and 1,245 votes against. The budget required a 60% vote in favor since it exceeded the tax cap.

Voters also passed a proposition to use $4,055,000 from the district’s capital reserve fund for districtwide improvements to its incoming electrical service.

The proposition garnered 3,183 votes of approval, or 79.4% of the total votes, and 826 votes against it.

Eight candidates ran in the district’s trustee race. These included incumbents Smith, Block, and Melkonian and challengers Alvarez, Michael Bitalvo, Teodora Choolfaian, Joseph Delerme, and Beth Weisburd.

Alvarez received 1,817 votes, Melkonian received 1,693 votes and Smith received 2,074 votes.

Block received 1,591, losing to Melkonian by 102 votes. They were followed by Weisburd with  1,070 votes, Bitalvo with 856, Delerme with 594 votes and Choolfaianreceiving with 434.

Alvarez is a lifelong resident of Port Washington who runs a private youth athletics company on Long Island.

She is also the co-president of the school district’s Special Education Parent Teacher Association, treasurer for Parents Council and has served on various school committees.

She said she began attending Board of Education meetings three years ago after struggling to find adequate after-school programs for her child. In attending these meetings, she said she was introduced to a diverse array of concerns from other parents.

Alvarez said she ran for the Board of Education to increase community representation on the board and stress the importance of inclusivity.

She said while programs established recently by the board have been beneficial, they are vulnerable to cuts. Alvarez ran to preserve those programs, which she said are not adequately funded under the adopted budget.

Melkonian and 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.

Melkonian said the philosophy that drives her actions on the board stems from two questions: What are we doing well and where can we grow?

An accomplishment Melkonian noted was the pupil personnel services audit to analyze services for students with disabilities and identify areas where further development is needed. She said she wants to work to implement those initiatives under her new term.

Melkonian identified priorities such as further growth in professional development for teachers and fostering safe and supportive climates on campus for students. She said strides have been made in these areas but looks to continue their progress.

Smith, who has lived in Port for the past 12 years, works for a New York-based real estate investment and development firm. He also served on the board of Temple Beth Israel in Port Washington

He and his wife have three children who attend district schools.

Smith was elected to the board in 2021, alongside Block and Melkonian.

Achievements Smith said he was proud of during his tenure include the establishment of the CTE and Twilight programs, which he said have aided in increasing graduation rates as well as the establishment of after-school programs and the full funding of the integrated co-teaching program for special education.

Looking forward, Smith said he wants to continue the school district’s offerings in antisemitism education, develop consistency between classrooms and schools, modernize transportation and upgrade facilities.

The three elected board members will serve a three-year term on the Port Washington Board of Education which will conclude on June 30, 2027.


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