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Part II: Meet the School Board Candidates

Candidates support budget, against superintendent salary cap.

Editor's note: This is the second part of a two-part series on Wednesday's Meet the Candidates Night. Thursday's part focused on the backgrounds of each of the candidates.

All five candidates running for three school board slots said at that they support the proposed 2011-12 budget that goes to a district vote on May 17.

Candidates Chris Schiavo, , Maria Holmquist, Paul Peller and Betty DeSabato also agreed that there should not be a on superintendents’ salaries, arguing that it would be difficult to attract high quality administrators to the district if a cap, being floated as an idea in Albany, were put in place. The district is currently searching for a replacement for Superintendent Sheldon Karnilow, who is in September.

Despite some differences, there was not much disagreement among the candidates during the question and answer session with residents at .

DeSabato, Holmquist and Acampora said that they would not initiate a motion at a public board meeting to make use of the district’s email notification system to alert residents to meeting times. Schiavo said he would support email as a supplement to regular notifications and added that he thinks the district should live stream some meetings online for people who cannot attend meetings

“Not enough people come to these meetings, and we need to get the information out so everyone has at least the opportunity to attend,” Schiavo said.

Peller said that he would support an email notification system and agreed with Schiavo’s proposal of putting some meetings online.

“I feel strongly that as we’ve entered into the 21st century that we have to be an electronic society…paper is really going by the wayside," Peller said. "In order to be a green, efficient, and cost saving district we need to emphasize email and electronic communication."

Acampora is unique among the candidates, as she said working for the board would be her full time job if elected.

“[My background] affords me the ability to look at the district as a whole, to be able to evaluate curriculum needs as well as budgetary issues," she said. "I’ve sat on so many committees and chaired so many committees over the years that I have a real working knowledge the philosophy and the psychology of this school district."

All candidates said they would be open to the idea of discussing term limits for the board of education if the community spoke up. DeSabato said that term limits could force out a high performing board member.

“You still have the power to vote onto the board whomever you feel is the best candidate,” she said. “I feel that if this was something that the community as a whole wanted, we would sit down and look at that.”

The candidates agreed that extra curricular activities and tutoring are important to students. The candidates said they did not see a large problem with redundancy of administrative positions in the district, with Holmquist calling the current structure a “model of efficiency.”

Current school board president Anne Marie Sorkin, along with trustees Carole Catapano and Jay Marcucci, are not seeking re-election.

The school board election and budget vote will take place next Tuesday at from 7 a.m.- 10 p.m.

Maria Holmquist May 13, 2011 at 06:44 PM
Hello Mr Holohan, One of your points requires some clarification. I would like to point out the fact that the Half Hollow Hills School district is one of only thirteen districts on LI to receive administrative efficiency aid from the state. Our ratio is 1.52% and is the third lowest on Long Island and the lowest in Huntington and Babylon. In this context, of course, the phrase "model of efficiency" makes sense. However, this does not preclude the Board of Education from continuing to diligently streamline the budget and make the best possible use of the taxpayers' money, wherever necessary. My entire professional career as vice president at Bankers Trust Company and Merrill Lynch Capital Markets has been devoted to doing more with less and I would, without question, bring this philosophy to the HHH school board, if elected. Thanks, Maria Holmquist
Patrick Cunningham May 13, 2011 at 07:14 PM
31 Principals and Assistant Principals are not a model of efficiency, You have teachers that are at the highest levels of the Step Program that are teaching 5 periods out of 9 in the High School. Why not have these teachers take on some of the Administrative function now being handled by 9 Assistant principals and one dean. The schools performed better with one principal in one building for Grades K-5, One Principal and one Assistant Principal for Middle School, and One Principal and two Assistant Principals for High School. Why not ask the administration for a Zero Based Budget on Administration.
Jill Kaufman May 13, 2011 at 09:23 PM
Maria, Do you know specifically what positions in HHH they are including as administrators when coming up with the 1.52% ratio?
Jill Kaufman May 14, 2011 at 03:46 AM
If the State had a salary cap, why wouldn't we be able to attract the best candidates if no other district would be offering more money than we are? Also, under the proposed Governors plan, the taxpayers could vote to increase the salary over the cap. I believe the question at meet the candidate night stated that even if you didn't agree with the dollar amount proposed by the Governor, what is your opinion on salary caps for top administrators? So I guess this mean SKY WILL BE THE LIMIT in HHH!
Jill Kaufman May 16, 2011 at 10:43 PM
Someone came up with a great question for meet the candidate night, asking the candidates if they supported the budget and if there was anything in the budget they would have liked to see changed. I would have liked to see the 4 year deal for raises and additional benefits out of the budget due to the economy and the cuts made that affect our students! I would have liked to see the district provide summer school busing for any student who needs it, as so many families have 2 working parents! Although statistics may show that the attendance rate of summer school remains the same with or without busing, there are students who have to turn down summer school because they have no way of getting there. Maybe we can spend a little less on Public Relations, creating new positions and adding in a $10,000 expenses for a LIASON to Hills on Stage, when this job was managed all these years by our Director and his staff! I am a huge supporter of the Arts BUT if the district office does not have enough Administrators, Administrative Assistants and Secretaries to handle the job, I'm sure there are many people who would have gladly volunteered! $10,000 REALLY? WHAT NEW POSITION WILL THE BOARD OF EDUCATION APPROVE NEXT? Oh yes, that will probably be the head of the Alumni Association, another position that can be filled with a volunteer!

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