Three candidates are vying for two open seats on the Eastport South Manor School Board on Tuesday, May 20. Incumbents Vincent Sweeney and Janet Stevens are both looking to return to the board for another three years, while challenger Richard R. Kohn hopes to derail at least one of them.
Voters will also be asked to approve the district’s $76 million budget for 2008-2009, a plan that includes a 5 percent increase in spending and a corresponding 5.1 percent tax hike. Voting will be held from 6 a.m. until 9 p.m. in the gymnasium of the Eastport South Manor High School in Manorville.
A Manorville resident for 14 years, Mr. Sweeney and his wife, Sharon, have two children. The 47-year-old Queens native, who has served on the board for the last eight years, earned an associate’s degree in applied science data processing from SUNY at Farmingdale in 1984, and went on to receive a bachelor’s degree in computer science from Polytechnic University in Farmingdale four years later.
Mr. Sweeney is employed as an engineering consultant for Omnicon Group, an engineering consulting firm based in Hauppauge. He is a former coach with the Eastport South Manor Sports Association.
He believes his experience on the board, combined with his knowledge as a software engineer, gives him the ability to analyze issues facing the district and provide solutions. Mr. Sweeney said he wants teachers and administrators to set goals for the number of students achieving a specified academic level within a specific time. If reelected, the incumbent will also push the district to update older school facilities in need of repair.
“While the issues in education may be different, my ability to analyze and dissect an issue allows me to prioritize and weigh different solutions,” Mr. Sweeney said. “As a previous and current member of the Board of Education, my record shows I’ll make tough decisions. While everyone may not agree, I try to do what’s best educationally within our ability to pay.”
A registered nurse at Good Samaritan Medical Center in West Islip, Ms. Stevens has served on the School Board for the past three years. She has also served as co-president of the Eastport Elementary Parent Teachers Organization, treasurer of the Eastport South Manor Junior-Senior High School Connection, and was a founding member of the Eastport Elementary Character Education Committee.
Chairwoman of the Eastport South Manor School District Health and Safety Committee, Ms. Stevens is also a member of the Local Wellness Committee. The 45-year-old Manorville resident is also the corresponding secretary of the Athletic Booster Club, treasurer of the Parent Teacher Student Organization, and an officer of the Football Booster Club. She is also a member of the Boys and Girls Lacrosse Boosters, as well as a Music Booster supporter.
Ms. Stevens said the district must lobby for state aid reform that would reflect regional cost and wealth factors in determining the distribution and allocation of state funds. She said the district needs relief from financial burdens caused by uncontrolled increases in pension and health insurance rates, energy costs and unfunded mandates.
“I hope that I have been an authentic leader, protecting and developing the most important resource in our community—our children,” Ms. Stevens said. “In order to pursue academic, artisan, and athletic excellence, we must continue to engage in a persistent, positive and transformational leadership, holding the administrative staff and faculty accountable not only for the teaching, but the learning that takes place within our campuses.”
Richard R. Kohn
Mr. Kohn spent 10 years as a paramedic at Stony Brook University Hospital. The 49-year-old Manorville resident has been a member of the Manorville Community Ambulance for 20 years, and last spring joined the Manorville Fire Department.
From 1977 to 1983, he served in the U.S. Army as an E-4 Specialist. He and his wife, Deborah, have been married for 23 years and have three sons.
A former director of the Eastport South Manor Sports Association, Mr. Kohn coached baseball for the organization from 1993 to 1996, and was an assistant football coach from 2004 until 2006. Mr. Kohn also serves as an advisor for the Manorville Community Ambulance’s Youth Squad, where he teaches basic first aid and medical systems to teenagers. The former ambulance company chief also prepares enrollees to become adult members in the ambulance corps.
Mr. Kohn thinks that his financial experience with Manorville Community Ambulance has prepared him to deal with budgetary problems facing the school district. He also stressed that he can bring a different point of view to the board.
“I want to try to protect my taxes, as well as everybody else’s,” Mr. Kohn said. “I have administrative and budgetary experience with the ambulance company, and I believe that experience will allow me to bring a new perspective. We need perspective where the budget is involved.”