Eight candidates are running for three seats on the North Shore School District’s Board of Education, with only two incumbents seeking re-election.
The May 17 election vote will include a resolution to pass the $116 million budget will also be on the ballot for voters. Voting will take place at the North Shore High School gym from 7 a.m.-10 p.m.
Board President Dave Ludmar and Trustee Marianne Manning Russo are each running for re-election to the board for another three-year term. Board Vice President Sara Jones is not running for re-election.
Ludmar is the owner and CEO of Eiseman-Ludmar Co., which manufactures quality uniform accessories for the military, public safety, airline, cruise line and hospitality industries. Ludmar was elected to the board in 2016 and was later named vice president in 2018. Since 2020, he has served as board president.
Russo is a practicing attorney who specializes in labor law, commercial and real estate trust and estates. A graduate of Georgetown University and Fordham Law School, Russo has served on the board for the past nine years.
Challengers Anna Carfagno, Lisa Cashman, Courtney Citko, Vanessa Grecky Marks, James Svendsen and Sean Trager are also running for seats on the board. Carfagno spent more than a decade in the New York City Public School system. She taught English Language Learners and holds a Master’s Degree in Literacy from Saint Joseph’s College.
Cashman spent time as an account manager at a multimedia company before becoming a clinical dietician at Mount Sinai Medical Center. She has also led fundraising efforts resulting in more than $300,000 in donated funds for various local groups.
Citko has been an active member of the school district, serving on its Community Budget Forum Committee and the Social-Emotional Learning Committee. Citko has also organized holiday card and candry drives for soldiers and veterans on a yearly basis.
Marks is a small business owner and entrepreneur who started her own interior design firm before being promoted to head a regional branch of a test preparation company. A North Shore alumna, Marks has also been a member of the Sea Cliff School Parent Community Association over five years.
Svendsen also has spent time throughout New York City’s Public School system, with five years being a fifth-grade teacher. His tenure in the educational field has spanned more than three decades, including work in the Manhasset School District anf the New Hyde Park-Garden City Park School District.
Trager is the senior vice president of Wedbush Securities’ Prime Services Division, a department he pioneered. A self-described “finance professional,” Trager said he acts in an advisory capacity to more than 100 clients with more than $1 billion worth of assets under management.
A candidate forum took hosted by the League of Women Voters of Port Washington-Manhasset occurred a few weeks ago discussing prominent issues facing the school district.
Ludmar cited the LIPA legal settlement with Nassau County that will have a substantial impact on district taxes.
“We are facing the LIPA decommissioning and the impact it will have on all our schools,” he said.
A previous story reported in this publication said that 28% of district tax revenue comes from LIPA and National Grid. Because the settlement calls for a large reduction in LIPA’s tax liability, district taxpayers will have to make up the difference.
”LIPA imposed cuts are coming. I will advocate for minimal impacts on instruction,” said candidate, Lisa Cashman, a district resident since 2013.
Svendsen said that his intimate knowledge of budgets, the budget process and state grants will be a significant asset to the school board.
“The administration makes the budget but boards approve the budget,” Svendsen said.
Responding to a question about how to manage the cost of the administration, Trager focused on quality saying, “High cost doesn’t always equate to high value.”
Trager stressed the importance of balancing high-quality education with the costs imposed on the taxpayers, particularly the senior citizens.
Marks serves on the district Teaching/Learning committee.
Answering a question on what it means to be transparent with the curriculum, she said that it is important to see what children are seeing and feeling in the classroom. She wants to “be involved in her child’s education, not to oversee what the teacher is doing but to be a support system.”
Citko praised the district’s efforts to deal with student mental health issues. “North Shore should be proud of their forward-thinking and their willingness to invest in that type of support for our kids,” said Citko.
She called for more long-range planning to prevent the stresses that many students encountered in their educational experiences during the pandemic.
Cashman called for a move from crisis management to a proactive position with regard to mental health. The importance of identifying warning signs of stress before they get to a crisis point is a worthwhile investment, said Cashman.