Douglas Vigo and Michael Culotta are running unopposed for trustee spots on the Floral Park-Bellerose Board of Education.
Vigo is running for re-election, and Culotta is running for Denise Dellacourte’s spot on the board.
Dellacourte is not running and declined to comment. A registered nurse, she was appointed to the board as a trustee in 2011, and has lived in the district for over 31 years.
Culotta is an attorney working on large-scale construction projects who moved to Floral Park from New York City five years ago with his wife. He said they “stumbled upon Floral Park and instantly fell in love with the village” due to the safe community, friendly neighbors and quality of the schools. He has two children, one who was born just a few weeks ago.
Culotta recently joined the Belmont task force, a group of citizens working to minimize the impact from the proposed Belmont development. The privately funded $1 billion redevelopment of Belmont Park will include a new home for the New York Islanders coupled with a 435,000-square-foot retail and entertainment complex and a hotel.
He said that he is looking to join the board partly to help make the expansion projects successful for the community. Culotta said that the development is going to happen “right in the backyard” of the schools and that he feels there is overdevelopment.
Vigo is in his sixth year as a trustee on the board and was appointed in 2013. He has lived in the district for over 36 years and has three children. Vigo is a financial controller who has served as a board trustee, vice president and president of the board. He has also served on the Sewanhaka Central High School Board of Education for three years.
Vigo said he is running to make sure that “all children in the Floral Park-Bellerose School District have the opportunity to achieve their individual social, emotional and educational goals while being financially responsible to the taxpayer.”
During Vigo’s years on the board, he said that the board has been able to work with parents and the community to provide a clear mission statement for the district. He said that mindfulness and meditation have been added to school days for children and staff to manage their stress more effectively.
He said that his plans for the coming year include continuing to work with members of the school community to provide child-centered programs that will “foster caring and responsible members of our society.” He also said that he will continue to make sure that the school board is being fiscally responsible.
“One of the reasons I originally ran for the board was to ensure that we would never take away curriculum for the children of this district due to budgetary reasons,” said Vigo.
Culotta has other goals for the board as well. He hopes to work on turning the part-time pre-K classes into a full-time program.
“Day care is expensive for a lot of people,” said Culotta. “It creates challenges for many of the working families.”
He also said that he aims to help the board “navigate the waters” with the expansion of the John Lewis Childs and Floral Park-Bellerose schools. He said that the district plans to expand the schools with new classrooms, new technology and more.
“That’s the kind of thing that’s critical to meeting the academic and emotional needs of our kids,” said Culotta. “This is an issue that I’m interested in exploring.”
The election will be on May 21.