This year’s budget vote will be held on Tuesday, May 17, from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. in the High School Gym. Voter information can be found on the district’s website, www.manhassetschools.org.
The proposed budget for 2022-2023 represents a budget-to-budget increase of 2.23 percent and a tax levy increase of 2.38 percent, which is at the district’s tax cap.
The proposed budget maintains academic, athletic and extracurricular offerings. It also sustains support for student services, expands student opportunities and continues the district’s critical investments in facilities and technology, at the allowable tax levy cap.
In addition, Manhasset residents will also vote on a separate proposition to fund district capital projects totaling $3.185 million through the district’s 2010 and 2018 capital reserves and the district’s general fund unassigned fund balance. Importantly, there would not be any additional tax impact for residents if the proposition is approved.
• Replacing the kindergarten playground at Shelter Rock School;
• Replacing the infield turf and creation of a multi-use field for district and community use. The multi-use field will serve all sports and will be an appropriate size for Middle School sports competition;
• Replacement of the Secondary School northwest field turf;
• Completion of asphalt, water main, and sidewalk replacement project at the Secondary School;
• Replacement of certain ceiling and lighting at the Secondary School.
In addition, the ballot will include the election of two members to the Board of Education, each to serve a three-year term beginning July 1, 2022 and ending on June 30, 2025.
The League of Women Voters of Port Washington-Manhasset held a candidate’s forum over Zoom on May 9. More than 2,800 people have viewed the YouTube movie.
The moderator, Julie B. Meer, asked questions submitted by community members. The following questions are followed by the time stamp in the movie at which they were asked:
Q: How would you differentiate your role on the board from that of the superintendent, who is responsible for day-to-day management decisions? And by extention, how much authority does the school board have over specific decisions like grade-appropriate textbooks, reading lists and library books? 25:46
Q: With the rise in depression, anxiety and suicidal ideation among children and teens, do you believe the district’s partnership with Northwell Health is adequate to solving this critical problem, and are there other things our district should be doing? 32:48
Q: Do you support the diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiative? As a board member, how would you show committment to equity and fairness and support all students from differing social and ethnic backgrounds and of different genders and sexual orientation? 39:39
Q: Board of education members take an oath to uphold federal, state and local laws, regulations, policy and mandates. Will you push back against government mandates, and if yes, how would you push back without losing state funding if you believe they are unhelpful and detrimental to children? 46:01
Q: Serving in a public office requires avoiding conflicts of interest where your personal concerns or activities are incomptable with your official duties. Would you agree that a board member or a board member’s spouse being an employee or consultant to the district is a conflict of interest? 52:03
Q: Please describe specific steps you would undertake to 1. include the voices of the broader community on issues of concern; 2. balance or reconcile potentially diverging perspectives; and 3. encourage civil discourse during meetings? 57:00
Q. Which of the special enrichment programs at the elementary and high school levels do you fully support and might want to extend? Also, since not every graduate is college-bound, what programs would you prioritize for them? 1:04:26
Q: Do Manhasset schools currently teach critical race theory? Why would critical race theory be apprpriate or not appropriate in our schools? 1:10:50
Q: Year after year, Munsey Park Elementary School is short on space. Class sizes are large and approach or exceed guidelines. What are your thoughts on how to create more breathing room at one of the largest elementary schools on Long Island? 1:17:23
Q: As a recent Manhasset graduate, I have seen dramnatic changes in the college application process. What challenges do you see this causing for our students, and what is your plan to ensure Manhasset schools are equitable in helping Manhasset students navigate this process and improve their chances in getting into top tier coilleges? 1:24:20
Q: Please share a specific example of of an achievement or excellence in the academics, arts and/or athletics in the Manhasset School District? 1:29:22
Here are extracts from the 90-minute debate.
My husband and I moved to Manhasset first of all for the spirit of the community and the educational opportunities Manhasset has to offer.
I have dedicated my entire career to education. I hold numerous degrees relevant to this role. I have a bachelor’s in speech language pathology and audiology, a master’s in general and special education and building and educational leadership. I am currently a doctoral candidate pursuing a degree in leadership and learning in organizations.
I hold community leadership positions in the Girl Scouts and am director of development for the Katie Oppo Research fund. In a prior life I was a Cub Scout Den Leader.
In addition to my formal education, over the last 14 years I have served as an administrator to a large New York State educational program. I oversee operations affecting hundreds of families, students and staff annually. Working in New York City has allowed me the opportunity to support children and staff from diverse demographics and needs.
Through these experiences I have gained the skill set of empathy, resilience, dedication and engaging in civil discourse—skills necessary to be a representative of our district. With my education and dedication to community service, I felt compelled to pursue investing my talent an experience in our community.
I want to use my parental experience to share my insight and work collaboratively and refocus our district and its intended purpose and end goals by delivering an education based on excellence.
I grew up in Massapequa and went to Cornell and graduated from Duke Law School, working for a large New York City law firm.
My husband and I moved to Manhasset 18 years ago. We believe strongly in public schools and we wanted to raise our family in a town with a fantastic public school system.
I have graduated one child and have one each in the secondary school and the elementary school. I could say with authority that the Manhasset School District has exceeded even my very high expectations.
My children are very different from one another, but each has been able to find a home here. Their experiences has left me so grateful that I wanted to continue to give back to make sure that each of our kids has a place to grow and thrive academically and athletically and emotionally.
I am truly running from a place of love—of our towns, love of our schools and most importantly, love of our kids. And I believe—particularly with regards to children—governing from a place of love and cooperation will always be better than governing from a place of anger.
There’s been a lot of talk about politics in schools and it’s been disappointing to me because I don’t believe we should be letting politics interfere with how we educate our kids. That is why board candidates don’t run on a party line.
I’ve worked with six other trustees well. We have very different political views, but we have left all that at the door. We’ve been guided by one thought only: how do we do what’s best for the kids as well staying fiscally responsible.
Because almost all of our decisions have been unanimous, we came to a consensus that is consistent with our town’s shared values.
Outside groups on either end of the political spectrum don’t know what is best for our kids. [During] my six years we’ve added programming every year while staying below the tax cap. This balance keeps our schools top notch and our property values high, which benefits our entire community.
I believe we must work to maintain that balance and I am the candidate to do it. I’ve been doing this for six years and I feel like I’m just getting started and that is why I’m asking for your vote. And while new blood is good for an organization, nothing teaches like experience. I am the only candidate running who knows exactly what this job takes. I am the only candidate who’s actually proven that they could collaborate with a wonderful administration, faculty, staff and families to work in the best interest of our kids.
I know what aspects of our school should be left to the discretion of our administration and faculty, the real education experts. And which aspects require the attention of the board.
We have a tradition of excellence here and I have been part of maintaining that tradition and keeping it alive.
My 20 years of coaching at the high school level allows me to bring a unique perspective to the board. Over the 20 years I worked with three superintendents and six athletic directors. I’ve build trust and respect with administrators and faculty.
These relationships within the school allow me unique insights into many matters that have occurred in our school district. I’ve actually worked as a liaison with the administration and parents to collaborate and work for the benefits of the students.
During this time I’ve also organized and developed The Row for the Fight Regatta working alongside with the Manhasset Coalition Against Breast Cancer. This program empowered the students in the junior coalition to take ownership and create fundraising opportunities.
I was also fortunate to be one of four coaches recruited to work with the athletic director to compose the school board-endorsed Manhasset Athletic Communication Protocol. The goal is to help students develop healthy pathways with coaches and the team, and learn how to self advocate for themselves in a respectful manner.
I’ve also served as an executive board member of CASA since 2018 and work with the administration to provide educational opportunities about substance abuse.
These experiences of working closely with the kids in multiple settings, along with the relationships with administration and faculty allowed me a true insight into the day-to-day [workings of the district].
As a physical therapist, entrepreneur and local businessman owner, I value communication and ability to work effectively as a team. I am about practical application and solving problems, not theoretical solutions. My wife and I moved to Manhasset almost 20 years ago and she has roots in this community. She continues to play an active role in Manhasset as the Saint Mary’s Elementary School nurse after serving the same role for five years at Munsey Park.
We have raised three kids in this district. All currently attend secondary school and are in 10th, 11th and 12th grade.
As a parent, I have seen first-hand how the curriculum in primary schools [creates] an invaluable foundation for secondary school success. And now I have insight into the programming at the secondary school that has a direct effect on [a student’s] college opportunities.
I look to earn your vote tonight as we discuss matters that are at the forefront in our district and country. I cannot promise to have all the answers, but I can promise to work tirelessly to find them.
As many of you know my first school board meeting was in support of my son and his graduation [date chnage] request. I am grateful for the many hours that the district put into trying to accommodate the request and I’m sorry it could not be accomplished. I’m also thankful for the lessons he and his friends learned through the process and the opportunity it afforded me to become more aware of the board of education and [its] value.
We have an amazing and diverse community and a strong school district with passionate faculty and a driven administration.
We need to set up a system to allow admins to admin and teachers to teach and every student to excel in a healthy environment.
Allison O’Brien Silva:
My husband and I have three daughters [attending] Munsey Park Elementary School.
We moved to Manhasset eight years ago and we knew right away we were in a special place because there were so many of you who chose to come back to raise your children here too.
I’ve had the pleasure of working with many of you through my involvement in Girl Scouts over the years when I was a parent representative for my daughters’ classes.
Our schools are among the best in the country and we should celebrate that. But we should also continue to challenge ourselves to improve.
I’m running for the board beccause I want our children to have the best public education possible. To be challenged, supported and encouraged to reach their full potential—from their first days in kindergarten to their culminating moment in their cap and gown on the high school lawn.
I believe my professional experience has prepared me for a role on the school board. I grew up on Long Island and went to college at the University of Pennsylvania. After college, I worked in Washington, first in government affairs and then in marketing at a national institution.
I then moved back to New York for my MBA at Columbia Business School and after my MBA, I joined McKinsey & Company as a management consultant, where we were held to the highest professional standards at work.
At McKinsey, we spent as much time communicating our progress with our clients as we did doing our research and analysis. The first thing I hope to contribute to the board is to improve how the board communicates an engages with the community. The board’s priority should be a reflection of our community’s needs and concerns.
We had unique challenges that we faced during the last couple of years. These challenging times require our board to be much more proactive leaders in communicating, seeking input and seeking consensus.
The acute crisis of educating our children during the pandemic is behind us. I also hope to refocus back on delivering what makes Manhasset great—a rigorous academic program that inspires curiosity, intellectual growth and a wide variety of sport, arts, community service and extra-curricular activities to encourage growth outside the classroom, and a full spectrum of guidance for all students.
A few of my ideas include introducing foreign language back at the elementary schools, monitoring and addressing COVID learning loss and [introducing] advanced classes for the humanities in the middle school.
As for capital expenditures, I would focus on upgrading and modernizing our classrooms, staying current in our technology and improving our outdoor athletic spaces and playing fields.
Of course, we must work within our budget. The community entrusts the board with oversight responsibility and I can assure you that I will take that seriously.
In summary, I have relevant professional experience, a passion for our schools and I’m willing to dedicate myself to this role. I’ll be accessible, responsive and open to everyone’s ideas and then put.
I have young children in the district. I will help make the schools the best they could be for all of our students.
I’m very excited to hopefully be [elected to] the board of education and be a voice for the families and for the children. I look forward to what’s ahead and welcome anybody with any questions that they have to reach out to me.
Moving forward, if I were [a trustee] there are few things I’d genuinely like to focus on. [One] would be to have families really have a voice at the meetings and guide agenda item so that this way we’re meeting the needs of the community head on.
I also would love to engage in civil discourse. I know everybody wants that, wants to put politics aside and to just focus on our children’s education, and I don’t think it’s a pipe dream. This is Manhasett and we’re leaders and we could do this.
I really look forward to introducing a curriculum committee and meeting different members of the community. I learned we had one years ago, but it was dissolved and I would love to bring that back collaboratively with our teachers to see what beautiful things that they’re putting together.
And also a very important thing for me is to assess class size and [introduce] possible assistant teachers. We need to bring our classrooms to smaller ratios for our children to really get the best education that they can.
When I tell people I’m running for reelection to the Manhasset Board of Education, I generally get sideways glances and a one-word question: “Why?” Not every “Why” is the same, of course. Some ask because they can’t understand why anyone would want to put themselves through the process and become a target. Others ask because they want to understand my motivation for choosing to do this.
Whatever the reason, my answer is the same: I want to serve on the board because I believe in this community. It’s that simple. I’ve been on the board for six years. I’ve witnessed what happens when Manhasset comes together. We’ve accomplished so much and can still do more—much more—to improve the education of our children.
I’m enormously proud of the achievements during my tenure on the board. We’ve enacted major curriculum enhancements at the elementary and secondary levels. A budget referendum passed, adding new Munsey Park classrooms, a broadcast journalism suite, student wellness center, and a Shelter Rock protective security vestibule. We’ve added counselors and social workers to help students with emotional needs—something that’s critically important right now. We’ve increased transparency, including continued remote participation in board meetings even after the state lifted that requirement.
We can do more. We can revisit foreign language instruction in the elementary schools. We must get more girls engaged in technology, including more high school girls in computer science classes. And I want to add robotics teams and a STEM lab for our budding scientists.
Manhasset traditionally sends students to great colleges. But the landscape is changing. I know first-hand from my son’s process last year. I want to work with our Guidance Department to get kids thinking about “passion projects” to enrich their experiences and help with college applications.
We’re all very fortunate to live in a phenomenal, award-winning school district. I want to get back to celebrating what makes us great, focusing on the education and well-being of our terrific kids. I will continue to work tirelessly to assure that Manhasset is a place where ALL kids can thrive academically and emotionally.
Before you cast your vote, ask yourself, are you proud of your child’s school? Are you pleased with your home value? Do you want our district to continue along a path of excellence, achievement and fiscal responsibility? Or do you believe that we need drastic change?
If you believe that we have a strong foundation and that we would benefit by listening to each other rather than talking at each other, and that we are stronger as a community when we work together for the benefit of the children, I am your candidate and I ask for your continued support.
I value and appreciate all my years here in Manhasset. This community is home and I only hope to have the opportunity to serve all of you and earn your trust.
I [felt] compelled to step forward and do more for my community. To be a liaison and help open pathways within the school that have up sadly grown dormant. To make sure we develop clear user-friendly communication avenues and [hold] quarterly town hall meetings.
As a board we are here to listen and serve you. I also want to work with guidance and administration to make sure any new programs and contracts that are introduced to our kids are properly vetted and more importantly, communicated to the parents.
We need to be proactive when it comes to our kids and their education, not reactive as we wait for the next shoe to fall. We need to return to civil conversations in the schools, ballfields and coffee shops. We need to get away from social media contention and actually speak [to each other] and more importantly, listen to our neighbors.
We will not always agree. However, the foundation of this community has always been the families. We need to get back to basics and open respectful lines of communication. We all want to see every kid healthy and successful.
I look forward to being a part of making that happen. I promise to be your voice and serve you and your children on my time on the board.
This election is about the future of our school community. Who will be the best advocate for our students, their education and the foundation for their futures? Who will be most able to work with the other board members and administration? To connect the community and define consensus and [define] a path forward that enables our schools and our kids to shine even brighter than they do today?
The board is not political nor is it all-powerful. If elected, I will help set goals, shape the budget, [support] the work of our administration and report to our taxpayers.
I will help set the tone for the culture and tenor of our school and foster respectful discourse. I will work within the scope of the board’s responsibilities and I will not infringe on parental rights and parental choice.
I will work to ensure that every student in Manhasset is nurtured, challenged. encouraged and celebrated.
Why am I running for the board? I want to make a contribution to a community. It wasn’t an easy decision. Maybe because putting my name in the hat put me at the risk of cyberbullying. It’s a disheartening reality these days, but I went ahead anyway because I know who I am and what I stand for. No falsehood spread online will change that.
I ran anyway because its your kids who inspire me every day to be a better mom, a better friend and a better member of our community. Your kids are my inspiration and what motivated me to run.
You want someone who will always look out for our children’s best interests. Who can listen to all sides and build consensus. I will be visible in the community. I’ll be available to hear your ideas and concerns and if you want someone who will serve with kindness, caring, empathy and in the spirit of collaboration, I am your candidate.
Not only do I have the right professional skill set and time, I have the passion, openness and accessibility needed and I will make it about our kids. So I ask for your support and your vote on May 17.