Written by Daniel Offner Thursday, 27 March 2014 00:00
With term limits set to expire for three positions on the Island Trees Board of Education, three contestants have emerged, sparking a potential six-way contest for the school board, this May.
For the three challengers—lifelong Island Trees residents Paul Giambona, Michael Rich and Brian Fielding—the biggest issue affecting the school community surrounds the recent proposal to errect 147 to 250 condominium units for seniors on 11.3 acres of property housing the Stephen E. Karopczyc and Geneva N. Gallow schools.
Although the school board’s response to an outpouring of community concerns indicate that the district plans to reexamine the property, Giambona said his concerns surround the transparent nature of the project and its cost.
“One our major concerns is the [school board’s] blatent lack of transparency,” said Giambona. “It is important that the right things are being done in the interest of the people.”
According to Giambona, while the board never agreed to sell the property, the district spent thousands of dollars in fees for a real estate attorney, appraiser, and broker. “That could’ve went to so many different things,” he added.
During a recent discussion on the property, challenger Michael Rich said that while he is glad that the district has decided to return to the drawing board, the disconnect between the board and school community was responsible for the proposal.
“This would’ve been a terrible mistake,” Rich said. “There are other ways to go about it.”
With three open seats on the school board, only one incumbent has confirmed plans to run for reelection. Calls to Island Trees School Board President Kenneth Rochon and Trustee George Storm were not retruned, as of press time.
Pat Mahon, a board incumbent, announced that she plans to run for reelection against the three challengers this May.
“I stand on my record over these past nine years,” said Mahon.
During her tenure on the school Board of Education, Mahon helped to increase AP classes in the district, implemented new safety protocols following the school shooting in Newtown, Conn., closed the high school campus, and worked with the budget committee to bring this year’s budget to a proposed zero tax levy increase.
While Mahon feels the challengers will have a difficult time matching her record, Giambona, Rich and Fielding feel that changes need to be made.
“After a certain amount of ideas, it is good to get a different perspective,” Fielding said.
With more than a month before school district voters go to the polls, The Levittown Tribune will continue to provide election coverage leading up to the May elections.