There will be uncontested board of education races in four local school districts—Hampton Bays, Remsenburg-Speonk, East Quogue and Quogue—on Tuesday, May 20.
East Quogue’s Cynthia McNamara is the only newcomer in those four races and she is running for the seat that will be vacated by Mario Cardaci, the current board president who opted not to seek reelection, on June 30.
In the other contests, the four incumbents seeking reelection to three-year terms are all unopposed in their respective bids.
Dorothy “Dot” Capuano is in a familiar position—running unopposed for a seat on the Hampton Bays Board of Education. The only difference is that, unlike her first time running in 2011, she is now seeking reelection to the five-member board.
Ms. Capuano, 54, was first elected in 2011 when she ran unopposed to fill the vacancy left by longtime board member George Leeman. She is seeking her second term.
A lifelong Hampton Bays resident, Ms. Capuano graduated from Hampton Bays High School in 1978. Two of her children, Amanda and John, also graduated from the district, while her youngest child, Thomas, still attends the high school
Ms. Capuano and her husband, John, own the Shinnecock Star charter fishing boat out of Hampton Bays and she has served as president of the Hampton Bays Chamber of Commerce since Stan Glinka stepped down from the position last fall after being elected to the Southampton Town Board.
Ms. Capuano has requested that the school district not give out her phone number, and calls placed at the chamber office were not returned. She also did not return messages left for her with school district officials.
District residents can cast their ballots between 6 a.m. and 9 p.m. on Tuesday, May 20, in the gymnasium of the Hampton Bays Middle School on Ponquogue Avenue. They can also vote that day on the school district’s proposed $48.2 million budget for 2014-15.
In Remsenburg-Speonk, incumbent Board of Education member Deirdre DeVita, a real estate broker at Brown Harris Stevens of Westhampton Beach, is unchallenged in her bid to return to the board.
Ms. DeVita, 49, was first elected to the five-member board in 2011, and has a daughter who attends the seventh grade at the Westhampton Beach Middle School.
Ms. DeVita said she is “extremely proud” of what the board has accomplished over the past three years, including navigating under the new state tax cap, implementing Common Core standards and negotiating various contracts. Moving forward, she said, “I hope that we can continue to build on our reputation for excellence, within the confines of fiscal prudence and all of the regulation that we are subject to.”
District residents can cast their ballots between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. at the Remsenburg-Speonk Elementary School on Mill Road in Remsenburg. They can also vote on the board’s proposed $13 million budget for the 2014-15 school year on that day.
Barring an orchestrated write-in campaign, newcomer Cynthia McNamara will join two-term incumbent Patricia Tuzzolo on the five-member East Quogue Board of Education starting on July 1.
Ms. McNamara, 36, is running for the seat that will be vacated by current President Mario Cardaci. She is employed as a bookkeeper at her husband’s landscaping business, Tiana Shores Landscaping in East Quogue. Ms. McNamara and her husband, Dan, have two children: Taylor, 9, and Jocelyn, 11; Taylor attends East Quogue Elementary while Jocelyn now attends Westhampton Beach Middle School.
“I’d like to give more of a voice to parents with children in the school,” Ms. McNamara said, explaining her reason for seeking a seat on the board. She noted that only a few of the board members have children still attending the school district.
She said she understands why the district tried to pierce the budget cap last year, noting that she would like to avoid cutting any additional programs in the future. She added that she is familiar with the hardships that most taxpayers have had to deal with over the past few years, noting that she intends to keep those people in mind when asked to make financial decisions as a member of the board. “I don’t want my taxes to go up, believe me,” she said. “You have to hope next year is a better year.”
Ideally, she would like to bring back programs that have been cut due to budget constraints and continue to work with local politicians to secure more state funding for East Quogue. Last year, she organized a fundraiser that paid for several iPads and a charging dock for one classroom after cuts were made to the school’s technology budget. She is planning the same fundraiser again for next month.
She would also like to see more students complete more community service projects.
Ms. Tuzzolo, a 44-year-old mother of two and a fitness instructor for the Southampton Town Parks and Recreation Department, has served on the board since 2008.
She noted that the past two years have been a challenge for the board come budget season; the board attempted to pierce the state tax cap last year but came up seven votes shy of the required 60-percent passing rate. As a result, members had to cut additional funding to get the public’s support. Board members were close to trying to pierce the tax cap a second time this year until last-minute state funding allowed them to avoid that scenario.
“I’m a parent and a taxpayer, and I don’t want to see the school we all know and love … get messed with,” Ms. Tuzzolo said.
She added that it is getting more and more difficult to keep East Quogue affordable for homeowners while also providing a quality education for students.“It’s definitely a balancing act, so we have to be a little creative,” she said.
Ms. Tuzzolo noted that while her oldest daughter will graduate from Westhampton Beach High School next month, her youngest daughter is only a freshman at the high school and, therefore, she wants to continue serving on the board.
District taxpayers can head to the East Quogue Elementary School on Central Avenue between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m. on Tuesday, May 20, to cast their ballots. Additionally, they can vote on the board’s proposed $22.8 million budget for the 2014-15 school year.
And in Quogue, Larry Berman is running unopposed for his third three-year term on the five-member board.
A former administrator and teacher, the 68-year-old retiree said he is very proud of the elementary school. All three of his children, including two of whom are eighth-graders attending the Westhampton Beach Middle School, all once walked the halls of the Edgewood Road building. His oldest now attends college.
“I’m very proud of the way the school functions and performs,” Mr. Berman said.
He added that he thinks the school’s teachers and administrators have adapted well to the Common Core standards so far, and even though budgeting under a tax cap “will always be difficult,” he believes he and his fellow board members have done very well thus far.
Taxpayers can cast their ballots at the Quogue School from 2 until 8 p.m. on Tuesday, May 20. On that day they will also be able to vote on the board’s proposed $7.7 million budget for the 2014-15 school year.
Reporter Kyle Campbell contributed to this story.