Written by Betsy Abraham, firstname.lastname@example.org Thursday, 15 May 2014 08:55
On May 20, Hicksville residents will take to the polls to vote for the school budget and for a new trustee to represent them on the Board of Education. Three seats are up for re-election. Incumbents Kevin J. Carroll and Steven Culhane are running unopposed and trustee Dolores Garger is not running again when her term expires July 1. Running for Garger’s open seat are David Jao and Michael Beneventano.
Jao has lived in Hicksville for more than 20 years. He has four kids; three who have graduated from the district and another who is a sophomore at the high school. This is his second time running for school board and says he now has more time to dedicate to the community.
“I’m running for the betterment of the students in the community as a whole,” Jao says. “I want to do my part in civil service. I have no hidden agendas.”
Jao says there are many issues in the district he would like to help change and that with his over 25 years in corporate experience he will be an asset to the board.
“My experience speaks for itself. I’m the chief information technologist for a Manhattan engineering firm and have a knowledge of budgeting, human resources, accounting, and technology and that will all help me contribute to this position,” Jao said.
Jao is currently the vice president for the Hicksville Garden Civic Association.
20-year-old Beneventano graduated from Hicksville High School in 2012 and says if elected, being a recent grad will be a huge asset.
“Based on how I’ve seen the district run there’s competent board members and we have a great administration but one thing they could benefit from is a student voice, someone who’s been in the school and seen the day to day operations. I think that’s a missing component,” says Beneventano.
He was actively involved in numerous organizations in high school, including orchestra and string ensemble, four honor societies, captain of the cross country and wrestling team. Now, as a sophomore at St. John’s University majoring in risk management, Beneventano serves as the co-chair for the budget committee of the student government.
“To say I have no experience would be invalid. I’ve co-chaired a bunch of committees and handled a budget. It teaches you leadership and responsibility,” says Beneventano. “I’ve taken the time for the past six months to evaluate how school boards function and research procedures and school law. If I get elected, I’m going to be a proactive member from the get-go.”
“It would be a privilege to be elected and I don’t take it for granted. I’m putting my time in and I owe it to my community to do a good job. I take this very seriously,” he said.
Two of the main issues Beneventano says he wants to improve on are community involvement and transparency.
“We had a very small voter turnout last year and board meetings generate low turnout. The school could benefit from hearing all our taxpayers and parents. I think some people feel their opinions and voices aren’t valued,” he said.
In regards to communication, Beneventano says he wants to send out more information to parents via email. He’ll seek to increase transparency by making the website easier to navigate and making information discussed at board meetings more easily available.
“I understand that not everyone can make it the meetings, but I want to put the information online so parents who don’t have time to come to the meetings can still be involved,” Beneventano said. “We want all our residents to know what’s going on. And a lot of parents I spoke to don’t.”
If elected, Beneventano promises to make communication a foundation of his time as a trustee.
“There are four types of people we need to be representing—the taxpaying resident, parent, teacher and student. If these four views are taken into account, we’ll be able to make a collaborative decision,” Beneventano said.
Registered Hicksville voters can vote May 20 at Burns Ave. School, Dutch Lane School, East Street School, Fork Lane, Lee Avenue School, Old Country Road School, and Woodland School May 20 between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m. For more information call 516-733-2104.