Two people are running for two open seats in an uncontested race for the Remsenburg-Speonk School Board.
Board member John Kern is aiming to retain his seat on the five-member board for another three-year term. At the same time, newcomer John Barry is hoping to replace longtime board member Lisa Fox, who is opting not to seek reelection this year.
Taxpayers can cast their ballots on Tuesday, May 21, at the elementary school on Mill Road. The polls will open at 7 a.m. and remain open until 9 p.m.
At the same time, taxpayers will be asked to vote on the proposed $12.87 million budget for the school district, an increase of 4.2 percent over the current year’s spending plan. Additionally, the district tax levy, which is under the state cap, will increase 2.36 percent, from $11.2 million to $11.5 million.
Mr. Barry, 49, is seeking his first term on the board of education. A father of two, third-grader William, 8, and future kindergartner Alexandra, 4, he said he felt it was time to give back to the school. Several months ago, he said, he was approached by current board members about an opening on the board, and decided his background in business and as an attorney will suit the group well.
A graduate of Fordham university and St. John’s University School of Law, Mr. Barry hopes to be able to continue the work the board has started in the past few years, particularly in curbing spending and creating a balanced budget.
“My goal is to keep up the good work the board has been doing the last few years,” he said. “Particularly with controlling costs and maintaining necessary programs.”
In the past few years, Mr. Barry has become more active with the community, as a member of the Westhampton Yacht Squadron for seven years and a Cub Scout leader for the past two. Although he said joining the board will take some getting used to, his wife, Amy, has been very supportive, and he thinks he will have a positive impact on the group.
Mr. Kern, 46, is a Southampton based attorney who lives in Remsenburg with his wife, Pamela. He is seeking his second term on the board.
A father of two children in the district, a sixth-grader and third-grader, Mr. Kern is looking forward to another three years on the board. He said this week that there was a lot of work to be done to maintain programs for the school, and he feels he can be valuable in that process.
According to Mr. Kern, his main goal for his next term will be to maintain fiscal responsibility and continue to present a responsible budget to taxpayers that comes in under the New York State mandated tax levy cap. In fact, he said his work on this year’s proposed budget, which is under the cap, is one of his proudest accomplishments on the board so far.
“There is still unfinished business,” he said. “I want to continue to be a part of the school and our community. I believe that we need to continue to maintain stringent and strict fiscal responsibility in the district, while at the same time maintaining the quality of programs and education for our children.”
According to Mr. Kern, the district will have a lot of hard work ahead of it to stay under the cap and keep the quality of education. He added that although the district has been reliant on state aid, and will continue to be, the district is not going to rest on its laurels. The board, he said, is working constantly to trim the fat at the school, and keep spending down.
“We want to maintain a school for which our community can be proud,” he said. “We are building strong stepping-stones for our children’s future.”