A contentious campaign for two trustee positions on the Manhasset Board of Education ended on Tuesday night, May 18. Jill Pullano and Erin Royce won the election between four candidates, receiving 1650 and 1385 votes, respectively. Frank Bua received 1,000 votes and incumbent trustee of 15 years Carlo Prinzo got 684 votes.
Pullano and Royce will join trustees Patricia Aitken, Christine Monterosso and Regina Rule on the board of education. Trustee Ann Marie Curd decided not to run for reelection this year. Prinzo and Royce will be leaving the board after Pullano and Royce are sworn in at the board of education reorganization meeting on July 8.
“A huge thank you to the entire Manhasset community for voting to support our students and our schools, and for electing me to the board of education,” Pullano said. “I will strive, with all of my efforts, to uphold the legacy of Manhasset excellence for our wonderful Manhasset family, and most importantly, for our children.”
Pullano has been a member of the SCA for 15 years and currently has three children in the school district. She also has a professional background in accounting and product development.
“I was honored to be elected to the Manhasset Board of Education,” Royce said. “I am so grateful for the support of our community. I look forward to listening to all of the voices in our district, and to working with the current board members to continue the tradition of excellence of the Manhasset School District and move us toward the future.”
Royce is a resident of Manhasset for 14 years and has two children in the school district, with another currently in Pre-K. She began her career as a school psychologist in the Syosset School District, then seven years as the Director of Guidance at St. Dominic High School and is currently the Coordinator of Special Education at the school.
The addition of Pullano and Royce will increase the board members with children actively in the school district from one to three. Neither Pullano or Royce responded to questions about currently on-leave Superintendent Dr. Vincent Butera future after he violated the district’s sexual harassment policy.
Frank Bua was reached, but declined to comment about the election results. On his campaign Facebook page, he said, “Win, lose or draw, these past few months have been one of the greatest experiences of my lifetime. I have learned so much, and become friends with so many people from our community that I didn’t previously know and possibly would never have met. I am so grateful for these relationships and the time we’ve spent together talking about making our kids’ educational experiences even better. I thank you for your unwavering support and confidence in me. I am humbled beyond words, and I can’t wait to see all of you again in the near future.”
Bua is a current social studies teacher in the Great Neck School District and has two children in the school district. Questions arose from those in the community and Prinzo about Bua’s ability to be on the board of education and be a high-ranking Great Neck teacher union official. According to New York State law, it’s legal for a member of a teacher’s union in another district to be on a school board in which they are a resident. Residents dug up old social media posts of Bua’s and was repeatedly attacked for his political views.
“Took real courage to rise above the vitriol hurled at you, for things that clearly had nothing to do with your BOE qualifications,” Resident Tom Neylon said in response to Bua’s Facebook post. “Too many bullies attack others for ‘who we think they are’ rather than objectively listening to what they actually say or do regarding school issues. Over time, a positive approach will prevail and I applaud you for always taking the high road. You have a lot to offer in helping our community. Hope you ignore the keyboard warriors and stay very involved.”
Prinzo was reached, but did not respond for comment about the election results.
The proposed school budget of $102.3 million for the 2021-22 school year passed 1786 to 809. It carries a budget increase of 1.65 percent with a tax levy increase of 1.6 percent from the previous year.
Proposition 2 also passed 1874 to 691. It gives the school district authorization to use monies already allocated from the school budget and a prior bond referendum from 2014 for capital projects. The funding will be used to replace the asphalt paving at the secondary school, including the replacement of the water main pipe underneath the asphalt, replacing the roof of the 6th grade wing at Shelter Rock, replacing the middle playground at Munsey Park Elementary School and renovate classrooms at the secondary school to create a broadcast journalism suite.
Proposition 3, the Manhasset Library $5.5 million budget passed, 1632 to 922.
The Manhasset School District omitted $1,022,625 from last year’s library budget, a clerical error that led to the need for Proposition 4, which also passed 1638-901. As a result, taxpayers were billed less than what they voted for and the school district loaned the library $1,022,625 to make up for the shortfall and error. This proposition will allow the library to pay back the school district over the next two years. The average single-family home in Manhasset will pay approximately $260 in 2021- 2022 that they would have paid in 2020-2021 to make up for the shortfall.