Written by Victoria Caruso-Davis Friday, 14 May 2010 00:00
Hicksville School District residents will take to the polls Tuesday, May 18 to vote for the proposed 2010-2011 spending plan (see story on page 1) as well as to elect two trustees to the school board.
This year, the seats held by current trustees Alesia Sommers and Sue Powell are set to expire with Powell running unopposed and Sommers retiring from the board. Vying for Sommers’ seat are Brenda Judson and James Mott.
Brenda Judson, a resident for 30 years, has two daughters currently attending Hicksville High School. She is a senior-level federal government manager for a law enforcement agency with 20 years of budget preparation and administration/human resource management experience. Locally, she is past president of Fork Lane and Hicksville Middle School PTAs, past treasurer of Fork Lane PTA, and was PTA Council Delegate for SEPTA as well as chair and member of numerous PTA committees including National Reflections and PARP. As a PTA volunteer Judson is a two-time Founders Day honoree. Additionally, she has been a Girl Scout troop leader for 10 years.
In Judson’s opinion, one major issue facing the school district is the projected decreases in state aid. “[This] is a serious concern given the demands placed on taxpayers to recoup budgetary shortfalls,” said Judson, adding, “Every parent, guardian and property owner recognizes the need for a quality education [and] schools that offer our children quality instructional programs coupled with a diverse cultural arts, and physical education/sports offerings. Continuing to ensure feasible class sizes, a diverse instructional program, which includes AP classes, world languages and technology integration all hinge on adequate fiscal resources.”
If elected, Judson said she plans to work toward “fiscally responsive management” and ensuring the district offers state-of-art technology; feasible class sizes; and the robust physical education/sports, cultural arts and 21st century foreign language offerings necessary to “equip all Hicksville students with the skills needed to succeed as adults.”
Additionally, Judson said there is a need to develop a “strong partnership with Hicksville’s dedicated teachers, faculty and staff.” Doing so, she said, will afford all Hicksville students a “quality, well-rounded instructional experience.”
The impact on the district from rising taxes, said Judson, is significant. “Reductions in state aid create financial shortfalls that taxpayers must recoup,” she said “This affects hard-working families struggling to make ends meet ...” She believes passage of the 2010-2011 spending plan is “critical.”
“Whether or not Hicksville residents have children in the school district or in public or private schools, each has a huge stake in ensuring that our district is recognized for its high quality schools,” Judson said, adding that if the budget fails the result will be “devastating to every Hicksville school community stakeholder.”
Judson believes her professional experience has equipped her with many of the skills needed to effectively represent the interests of taxpayers while her community involvement and the fact that she is a parent and taxpayer make her the candidate of choice. As a member of the board, Judson said she will “stand together with every other parent, guardian, resident and taxpayer in demanding value for our tax dollars. I will ensure the ‘biggest bang for the buck’ and have the courage to make difficult decisions, defend the philosophy and goals of Hicksville schools community stakeholders and withstand criticism from people who hold opposing views.”
James Mott has resided in the Hicksville community for 16 years. His son Timmy and daughter Lauren currently attend Dutch Lane and his daughter Meagan is a 2003 graduate of Hicksville High School. Professionally, Mott is a retired New York City Police Department detective who presently works in corporate security for a major financial institution. On a local front, Mott is involved in various sports programs and is a track coach at Holy Family and an assistant coach for the Hicksville Crusaders. In the past, he also coached Hicksville soccer.
In Mott’s opinion, increased class size and poor text scores are among the major issues currently facing the Hicksville School District. If elected to the board of education, Mott said he will work to reduce class size, especially in the lower grades, and improve test results. “Both of these goals work hand in hand,” Mott said. “If we can get the classes smaller, grades will improve.”
Today’s rising taxes, said Mott, create a “unique opportunity” for the district to reanalyze all the contracts and costs facing the district. “Crafting a strong budget, despite bad economic times, will be one of the district’s biggest worries for the future,” he said.
As a member of the Hicksville Board of Education, Mott said he would like to see “more willingness for change.” Mott told the Hicksville Illustrated News that he is the candidate of choice because he has a plan. “I have an agenda to get a better education for my children and I am not afraid to voice my opinion if I don’t think our students are being thought of as priority number one,” he said, adding that he would also like to “see more willingness for change in the school district in the future.
Residents of the Hicksville School District, said Mott, should elect him to the school board because he is a longtime resident who “wants to put the Hicksville School District on a high pedestal with other school districts in the area.” He added, “My qualifications are that I am concerned for our children’s future.”