Board of Education trustee candidate guide

Pat-Med, South Country and William Floyd

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PATCHOGUE-MEDFORD

The Patchogue-Medford School District Board of Education has a total of two seats open and both candidates will be running unopposed. Trustee Thomas Donofrio will be running for his sixth term as the only incumbent, and newcomer Francis Salazar will be running unopposed as well to fill Teresa Baldinucci-Greenberg’s vacated seat.

Thomas Donofrio

As a member of the Pat-Med community for over 35 years, he said he has always volunteered in an effort to support our young people. He is now running for his sixth term on the board.

“I am proud to be part of the leadership team for a district that has gone from financial difficulties to one with a strong financial position,” he said. “I truly believe the district has improved programs for our students, providing them with many options to meet their varying interests. I would be proud to serve the community for another three years,” he continued.

Francis J.  Salazar 

Francis Salazar has been a resident of the Village of Patchogue since 2008.  “As a parent of two children enrolled at Bay Elementary School, it would be both my privilege and honor to represent the communities of Patchogue and Medford on the board of education,” he said. He believes that education is a vital aspect of any thriving community and hopes to provide the children and families of the district with the best education that will allow them to become prosperous and contributing members of society.  

SOUTH COUNTRY

The South Country School District has four open seats, each three-year terms and one to fill a vacancy commencing May 18, 2022 to June 30, 2023. Board president Anne Hayes is the only incumbent. Both Clyde Parker and Melissa Aruta are not re-running.

Anne Hayes 

During her first term as a member of the board of education, she served as president of the board. The accumulated experience and knowledge, she said, will come with her when she is re-elected.  She also promised to help the board work together as it creates the best possible relationship with the new superintendent, right from the start.  She added that she is excited to help move the district toward its potential for greatness, knowing that they can build on the effective programs and improve the areas which need priority attention. 

Tara Kavanagh

Tara Kavanagh has been practicing law for 28 years. She has maintained an office in Bellport Village since 1998 and focuses her practice in the areas of real estate, estate planning, and estate administration. She also lives in Bellport with her husband, Tom Ford, and is a mom to four grown daughters. Her experience includes 14 years as a member of the Town of Brookhaven Planning Board, and she is currently a founding board member of Friends of Bellport Bay (FoBB), a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation that focuses on local environmental issues. 

Joseph L. Barry

Joe Barry, a resident of East Patchogue, was raised in Bayport and graduated from the University of Dayton in Ohio.  For the past 27 years, he has worked for numerous not-for-profit organizations, leading them to achieve challenging fundraising goals. Barry has served as director of development at both Brookhaven Memorial Hospital and Stony Brook University and is currently the chief development officer at Island Harvest Food Bank. He also has experience in board rooms as a collaborator and community builder and has extensive experience in grant writing and government relations, which, he said, will benefit the district.

Gregory C. Miglino

As a former South Country School Board president and lifelong community member, he said he found it impossible to ignore the deteriorating situations within the school district. 

“I have been approached by parents, teachers, administrators, and residents who universally paint a picture of a district in crisis,” he said. “They have told me about everything from violence in our schools to fiscal waste and mismanagement.”

Marian McKenna

Marian McKenna has been a district resident for 45 years and is a realtor. She holds degrees from Cornell University and is married with three children who have all attended South Country Schools. Additionally, both her sons attended the United States Naval Academy and are serving as officers in the Navy. Her daughter is a registered nurse who is married to an Army officer. McKenna also volunteer as an admissions officer for the United States Naval Academy and a fundraiser for America’s VetDogs to assist disabled veterans. She said she believes she can bring the experience and knowledge of what it takes to run the district the way that gave her children a good education, so other children can have that as well.

Dr. Alesia Olsen

Alesia Olsen has a doctorate in education leadership and accountability and over 30 years classroom experience teaching at every level from kindergarten to Columbia University. She is also certified in special education and as a teacher of American Sign Language. Her candidacy, she said, is about activating the principles of unity, transparency, and excellence to center the schools on students and center the community on schools. This, she said, is simple with the right leadership. 

Christopher Ross

As a lifelong member of the community and 1992 graduate of Bellport High School, Christopher Ross said he is excited to run for a seat on the board of education. For the past 20 years, Ross has been a practicing attorney with a general law practice, with a focus on litigation. He said he spends his days helping clients through some of the most complex, trying, and emotional times (both good and bad) in their lives. He is married to his wife, Nancy, who is an elementary educator in the Middle Country School District; together they have three children. The oldest is a freshman at Bellport High School, and youngest two are in fifth and sixth grade. 

Amy F. Price-Thomas

Amy F. Price-Thomas is a lifelong resident of the community having attended South Country Schools since kindergarten. As a wife and mother of three children, two currently enrolled in South Country and a newborn that will eventually attend school there as well, she said she has become concerned over the last few years with the direction our school district is heading. She currently serves as the boys soccer coach for the Bellport Soccer Club, board member for Oaklawn Cemetery, PTA parent, and community advocate for animals. In addition, she has 24 years of volunteer service in EMS, with 12 of those years serving as the chief of administration.

Pat Ingrassia

Pat Ingrassia is a Catholic, father of two, family man, and has been a resident in the South Country Central School District for over 12 years. Ingrassia is a 40-year veteran in the financial services industry, where he developed a successful planning-based practice, guiding dozens of families through all their financial needs; from retirement funds to preparing their children both financially and academically for college. He said he has a track record both in his business and personal life, which makes him a uniquely qualified candidate for this position.

Gino Cruz

Gino Cruz was born in the Bronx, N.Y., raised in Shirley, N.Y., has lived in the community for 25 years, raised a son and helped raise his two stepsons and now a grandfather of four. He has also been married to his wife Georgianne for 25 years. Cruz, along with his son Gino Jr., are both volunteer firemen for the Bellport Fire Department. Cruz was previously president of the South Country Library Board as well as past president of the South Country Community Conference, SCCC was originally started by the late Tony Gazzola. During that presidency, Cruz organized a cleanup of Station Road where over 10 tons of garbage was removed. 

Rafyel Flippen 

Rafyel Flippen is 33 and is proud to be “born and raised” in Bellport. His mother and father were both Bellport graduates, as is he. He fondly remembers going through the South Country School District from Brookhaven Elementary all the way into Bellport High School, where he has many happy memories of playing basketball. He grew up knowing that Bellport would be his forever home and wants to make sure his daughter goes through the school district having similar experiences. Flippen has worked at the Boys and Girls Club of the Bellport Area for almost 10 years.

Spencer Eugene Stickley

Spencer Eugene Stickley’s name will appear on the ballot; however, he declined to submit to this story.

WILLIAM FLOYD

The William Floyd School District has four seats up for reelection in which all four incumbents will run unopposed. Three seats are for three years July 1, 2022 through June 30, 2025 and one seat will fill a vacancy for the remainder of Robert Vecchio’s term expiring June 30, 2024.

Vecchio resigned in December of last year to accept a position with the Nassau-Suffolk School Boards Association.

April Coppola

April Coppola is a lifelong resident of the William Floyd community and a 1984 graduate of William Floyd High School. She has served as a member of the school board since 2016, assuming the role of vice president after the passing of her friend and colleague Jeananne Dawson in 2019, and then taking over as president after Robert Vecchio’s retirement from board service in late December 2021. She resides in Shirley, N.Y., with her husband Rob, and has three children: a 2019 alumna and two future graduates and members of the Class of 2023. 

Robert Guerriero 

Robert Guerriero has been a resident of the William Floyd School District for 36 years, first purchasing a home in the community with his brother in 1986. In 1993, Guerriero married his wife, Karen, and they have lived in Mastic Beach ever since. Guerriero’s two daughters, Karen (Class of 2012) and Kristie (Class of 2014), attended the William Floyd School District K-12, attended college and began successful careers in their chosen professions. 

Lorraine Mentz

Lorraine Mentz has been a resident of Shirley, N.Y., since 2002, when she and her husband, Chris, moved into the community from Nassau County. Lorraine and Chris have two daughters, Madison, a William Floyd High School Class of 2021 alumna, and Mikayla, a future member of the Class of 2024, both who have had wonderful experiences at William Floyd. 

A teacher by trade, Mentz worked as a secondary math teacher at I.S. 141 and the I.S. 10 schools in the NYC school system before moving to Shirley and becoming a full-time stay-at-home mom. While raising her daughters, she served on the Just Kids Parent Organization for two years, the William Floyd Elementary School PTO for nine years, and the William Floyd Middle School PTO for three years. 

Kevin Meyer

Kevin Meyer is no stranger to service—he is retired from the FDNY, where he served as a firefighter with Engine 320, Ladder 167 in Queens, N.Y. He also served as an educator during his career as a middle-school teacher in Robert H. Goddard Middle School in Ozone Park, where he taught math and science, and later served as a dean of students’ supervisor.

So, when a vacancy occurred on the board of education due to Robert Vecchio’s retirement from board service at the end of 2021, Meyer stepped up to serve his school community in this new capacity. After a rigorous interview process with many outstanding candidates, he was unanimously chosen and appointed by the board of education to serve as the newest trustee. He was sworn in to office in early January 2022. He is running unopposed and after this year’s upcoming election, he will finish out the term expiring June 30, 2024.

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