by John Nugent
Candidates for three open seats on the North Shore School District Board of Education responded to questions at a forum hosted by the League of Women Voters of Port Washington-Manhasset last Wednesday.
Moderator, Michelle Lamberti introduced the six candidates who were on hand. Each gave an opening statement and then fielded questions that were submitted by district residents.
David Ludmar, who is the current board president, 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.
James Svendsen, currently the director of curriculum instruction in the Garden City Park/New Hyde Park district, has 33 years of experience in education. He 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, Sean 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.
Vanessa Grecky 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.”
Courtney 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.