Written by Jaime L. Tomeo Thursday, 14 May 2009 16:33
Incumbent Christine Holt is being challenged for her trustee seat on the Island Trees Board of Education by William Buchanan. Candidates Brian Kelty, Rosanna Lundy-Kluth and Kim McDonough are vying for the other open trustee position. Trustee Joseph Buda is not seeking re-election.
The positions are for a three-year term. The budget election and trustee vote will be held on Tuesday, May 19 from noon to 9 p.m. at Michael F. Stokes School in Island Trees. Visit www.islandtrees.org for more information.
All candidates were asked a series of questions. Their answers appear in alphabetical order.
Eleven-year Island Trees resident William Buchanan is a married father of two. A lead custodian, Buchanan has coached for the Island Trees Soccer Club for seven years.
Buchanan said he is running for a position on the school board because he cares about the community.
“I feel at this juncture the seat I am running for is not properly representing the community’s needs,” he added. “The district is facing some critical issues and needs someone who will be able to put in the time and research that is needed to make the tough decisions that lie ahead. I have been attending board work sessions and board meetings for approximately a year now and have researched many of the issues that plague this community. My goal is to preserve this great community and retain the standard of excellence that attracted us all to Island Trees.”
Buchanan said he also feels that there needs to be better communication between the board and the community.
“Not just the residents who have children attending our schools but for the thousands that do not,” he said. “Every taxpayer in the Island Trees School District deserves to be apprised of any pertinent information regarding their tax dollars. My promise if elected is to bring the concerns of every taxpayer in our community to every board meeting. Mass mailings/phone calls/emails regarding critical issues need to be sent to everyone.”
While Buchanan said there are several issues facing the district, he feels two main concerns are taxes and the lead issue at Island Trees High School.
“Nationwide school taxes keep skyrocketing but enrollments are dwindling,” he said. “We need to find the right balance between the two so we can maintain our community and still give our children the best education possible without losing our seniors and our young adults who can’t afford to live here. The lead contamination in the Island Trees High School is still a major health hazard and recent tests show that there are still high levels of lead in the building. This problem needs to be resolved so we can move forward as a community into the next decade.”
If elected, Buchanan suggested allowing junior and senior students to become volunteer assistant coaches.
“This credit can be used towards a student’s volunteer service and would help fulfill part of their college requirement,” he added. “This would allow crucial dollars usually paid to teachers to go towards reinstating elementary reading aides, which are crucial to academic literacy as well as other services.”
Lifelong Levittown resident Christine Holt is a married mother of five children, all of whom attend Island Trees Schools. A full time mother, Holt also serves as the Island Trees PTA Council president and is a board of education trustee incumbent.
Holt said she is seeking re-election because she feels “community service is important and the board of education is one of the best ways to serve this community.
“I want to ensure that our school district continues to be excellent,” she added.
According to Holt, the most important issue facing the school district is “how to maintain our educational programs in this economy.”
“I believe we have done the best that we could given the circumstances,” she added. “Our budget increase is less than 3 percent and the tax levy is under 4 percent and we have still been able to keep our academic programs in place.”
Her suggestions for future endeavors on the board include “ending the infighting on the school board.”
“We have to work together more cooperatively to serve our students and community,” she said. “I want to ensure that our children continue to get the support that they need to be successful.”
Holt said she is proud of several accomplishments during her tenure on the board.
“Since I have been on the board our budget and tax levy increases have been kept low,” she said. “At the same time, our student achievement has continued to improve and is outstanding. So, keeping costs down and maintaining academic excellence is something that I am proud of.”
An Island Trees resident for more than 20 years and previous board of education candidate, Brian Kelty is a married father of four boys. Kelty is a retire New York City firefighter with an associate’s degree in marketing.
Kelty said he is seeking election to the board because he “thinks it is very important to be able to continue to provide an excellent education system, while delivering it to the taxpayer at an affordable cost.”
According to Kelty, there are two important issues facing the Island Trees School District.
“I want to see to it that we solve the lead contamination problem at Island Trees High school,” he added. “If elected, I will lobby for federal intervention to recoup some or all of the hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars already spent on this remediation project. This will require community support.”
Additionally, Kelty said, “I would like to be part of the selection process of a new superintendent, so we as a community can usher in a fresh mind set in the Island Trees School District.”
As for suggestions if elected, Kelty said he “wants to develop an open line of communication between the school board and the community so as to keep them informed and updated about the operations of the district.”
“This represents true transparency,” he added. “If elected I will make myself accessible to all concerned residents.”
Kelty is currently involved in litigation with the Island Trees School District involving the ITHS lead issue, as he has filed an Article 78 action and a Notice of Claim.
Rosanna Lundy-Kluth has resided in the Island Trees School District for nearly 40 years. She is a married mother of three and has a bachelor’s degree in fine arts in Theater Technology from Pace University. Formerly a theater technician and customer service representative for a local bank, Lundy-Kluth currently works as a part-time teller.
Community activities that Lundy-Kluth is involved in include a religious education teacher at St. Martin of Tours and a companion for the Baptismal Program, welcoming new families into the Church, Girl Scout troop leader of both a Brownie and Daisy Troop and active Stokes PTA member.
Lundy-Kluth said she is currently seeking election to the board “to be given the opportunity to serve this community which I’ve been a member of for almost 40 years.”
“Island Trees is about to renew itself with the hiring of a new superintendent and I would be honored to be a part of this new beginning,” she said. “I pride myself on my ability to listen to all views, decipher information given to me and most importantly do independent research so as not to follow blindly where others might lead.”
According to Lundy-Kluth, one of the most important issues facing the school district is “the lack of communication and information given to the public.”
“With today’s technology there is no need for this,” she added. “The majority of people hear about what’s happening through the ‘grapevine,’ which causes our community to become unnecessarily outraged and panicked. To prevent this I would better utilize the technology we already have to keep the lines of communication open so the community can have a greater understanding of how their district is being run.”
Kim McDonough has lived in Levittown for 10 years and is a married mother of two. She is a caterer/accountant with a degree from Farmingdale State College.
Her involvement in extracurricular activities includes Island Trees Baseball vice president/ coach, Island Trees Cardinals Youth Football, treasurer and Stokes PTA president.
McDonough said she is seeking election to the board of education “to help this district move forward to do what is best for our children and community.”
“We need to put a team in place that will be able to meet the many challenges that we face,” she said.
The most important issue currently facing the school district, according to McDonough, is “continuing to maintain a quality education for our children and at the same time, carefully managing our finances in these tough economic times.”
If elected to the board of education, McDonough said “I feel that I will be able to work well with the other members of the board and with all members of this community so that we can keep Island Trees a place where people want to live and raise a family while keeping our taxes to a minimum and making sure that our children are safe.”