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Meet the Island Trees School Board Candidates

The Island Trees Board of Education has two seats open for election for the 2010/11 school year. Vice President Carl Bonsignore’s three-year term has expired and he has decided not to run for re-election. President Peter Ray’s three-year term has also expired and he has also decided not to run for re-election. Running for vice president are William Buchanan, Barbara Medellin and George Storm. Running for president are Kristen Daum and Brian Kelty. The Levittown Tribune has asked them a series of questions. Their answers appear below in alphabetical order for their respective positions.

Running for President:

Tribune: Why are you running?

Kristen Daum: Education is one of the most important things in life we can give our children so I am very interested in a quality education. At the same time, I want to make the community we live in better and yet affordable, especially for those residents without children in the school system. There has been much dissension in our community over the last few years, whether on the board of education or between the board of education and members of the community. In these already tough times, dissension is not what we need in order to bring our community back together. We need to work together towards an end that is good for all parties involved, including the parents, teachers, administrators, civil service employees and community members. I want to be a part of a team that the community can be proud of while getting the responsibilities as trustee accomplished.

Brian Kelty: I am running to represent the entire Island Trees taxpaying community. I have the support of young families with children attending school, as well as the support of senior citizens who desire to continue to live in this great community. I have promised to represent all of them. I want to help maintain an excellent educational system while delivering it in the most cost-effective manner.

Tribune: Have you ever run for BOE before?

Daum: No.

Kelty: I ran in 2007 and 2009.

Tribune: Have you ever held a BOE position before?

Daum: No.

Kelty: No.

Tribune: What is your day job?

Daum: Homemaker.

Kelty: I am retired from the New York City Fire Department.

Tribune: Please give a brief bio with family information, past interaction with school district or community-related activities.

Daum: I received a BS in accounting and law from Clarkson University and earned my CPA in the state of New York and worked in big business for 15 years. I have lived in this community for the past 15 years. I live with my husband, John and my son, who attends the Memorial Middle School. I am and have been actively involved with the boards of the Island Trees PTAs as well as the Island Trees Soccer Club. I currently serve as treasurer for the soccer club. In the coming year, I will also be serving as PTA Council vice president and treasurer of the Island Trees Parent Teacher Student Association.

Kelty: I am married to my wife Lisa for 26 years. We have four sons. My wife served for many years as class mother while my sons attended Island Trees schools. I coached baseball for many years in both the Island Trees Little League as well as the LSW League. I participated in the community panel formed by former Superintendent Jim Parla to address the community uproar over the renaming of Island Trees Memorial Middle School. I worked with the entire panel, the board, and the administration to restore the proper name to our Memorial School, which was dedicated to our fallen heroes. That controversy resulted in a very dark time in this community. I am very proud of my participation in that panel.

Tribune: What makes you a good candidate for this BOE position?

Daum: I have a degree in accounting and earned my CPA and have a good knowledge of finances and budget issues. Ethics and integrity are expected from a CPA and I try to live my life as such. Through my involvement in the schools and soccer club, I have strived to excel in both of these areas by maintaining the by-laws that govern the group I am involved in and being fiscally responsible, all while doing what is in the best interests of the children in our community. Involvement, whether it is at the school or community level, is what is important to me and I continue to serve to lend my knowledge and talents where it is necessary.

Kelty: I have attended school board meetings, budget hearings, work sessions, PTA meetings, and audit committee meetings for many years in this district.

I feel I have the knowledge and experience to assist the Island Trees Board of Education in leading our community through the toughest economic times since I moved here in 1986. I have the support of people who range in age from 20 to 90. I gave them my solemn promise to represent all of them.

Tribune: If elected, what are your goals for the district?

Daum: My goal is to provide the highest level of education for our children while managing the tax costs to the community. I would like to find ways to balance the school budget with minimal increases in school taxes.

Kelty: If elected, I will work hard every day to help to continue the great tradition of the Island Trees experience. This is a great community and I would be honored to serve.

Running for Vice President

Tribune: Why are you running?

William Buchanan: I am running for the Island Trees School Board because I care about this community and our schools. 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 believe to keep our community to its highest standards we all need to work together to maintain our property values. My goal is to preserve this great community and retain the standard of excellence that attracted us all to Island Trees.

Barbara Medellin: For almost 20 years I have lived in the Island Trees School District.

I have taken pride in the time I have been able to volunteer in our schools. Now I have the opportunity to serve as a member of our school board and be able to make decisions that will impact both the school and community.

George Storm: I would like to try help my community, and I feel that this is a very important position that needs some fresh ideas.

Tribune: Have you ever run for BOE before?

Buchanan: Yes, last year.

Medellin: No.

Storm: No.

Tribune: Have you ever held a BOE position before?

Buchanan: No.

Medellin: No.

Storm: No.

Tribune: What is your day job?

Buchanan: Lead custodian.

Medellin: I work as a teacher’s aide in the Scope/Island Trees Preschool.

Storm: I work for the Syosset Central School District.

Tribune: Please give a brief bio with family information, past interaction with school district or community-related activities.

Buchanan: I have resided in Island Trees for 12 years with my wife, Geri and our two children, Alicia and Liam who attend J. Fred Sparke Elementary and Island Trees Memorial Middle School. For the last eight years I have been a volunteer coach for the Island Trees Soccer Club.

Medellin: I have lived in the community since 1990. Married 26 years, I have three daughters, two former ITHS graduates and one a current ITHS sophomore. After graduating high school I went directly to work due to a family hardship and remained working in the banking and Wall Street industry for 10 years. After that time I stayed home to raise my family. I have helped in two ITHS post-prom breakfasts. I helped Carol Siegel at the onset of the IT School To Business Partnership Program. I did photography for M.F. Stokes from 1999 to 2004 where I photographed the entire school for a school reading project called PARP. I helped out at C.A.P.I.T., which is a community program held at the IT Middle School once a month for seventh and eighth grade students to give them a place to go on a Friday night. I am a current member of the IT PTSA and past board member of the Stokes PTA. I helped out with numerous fundraisers throughout the elementary, middle and high schools as well as co-chairing special events in Stokes Elementary School. I was a volunteer parent since 1997 as well as a past co-leader for the NC Girl Scouts.

Storm: I have been married to my loving wife Judith for the past 10 years and couldn’t imagine doing this without her support. We have three lovely daughters Wynter, Liberty, and Delilah. As well as being a volunteer firefighter for the Levittown Fire Department, where I am an officer for Engine 7, I am also the Island Trees representative for the Selective Service review board.

Tribune: What makes you a good candidate for this BOE position?

Buchanan: As well as being an Island Trees taxpayer I am a parent with two children attending school here. I have no personal agendas except maintaining an excellent balance between our yearly budgets and quality education for our students. I have been attending BOE related meetings for approximately two years and feel I have a working knowledge of the struggles and concerns that face our district today. I believe I bring fresh ideas and an unskewed perspective to the table and would rally the opportunity to try and develop new strategies that will allow us to grow and improve as a community.

Medellin: I feel that being a three-time K-high school parent I have seen the good and bad, the needs and wants and feel that I will be able to make good decisions where the children are concerned.

Storm: My desire and dedication to my community and school district will not allow me to fail in this position if elected for there is such a burden on us as a community that failure is not an option.

Tribune: If elected, what are your goals for the district?

Buchanan: I want what we all want; a great education for our children at a reasonable cost. 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. Nationwide school taxes keep skyrocketing but enrollments are dwindling. The decrease in state aid to our school districts gives cause for great concern with regards to our fiscal responsibilities to both students and the community. The Island Trees School District needs to seek creative alternatives to help save tax dollars and maintain quality at the same time. It’s all about saving the community so we can pass it on to the next generation with the same integrity that has attracted people here for the last 60 years.

Medellin: Trying to maintain low taxes while maintaining the level of education to NYS standards. I would also like to refocus our attention to our children’s education and not to the negative attention that has plagued our district over the past two years.

Storm: I would like to bring in some fresh ideas, some new blood and maybe try to borrow some ideas from other districts; steal some of their money-saving tricks while trying to maintain the level of academic, cultural and athletic excellence that has been built over the years.

Tribune: Anything else you would like to say (briefly)?

Buchanan: Due to the cancellation of the ITSD PTA-sponsored “Meet the Candidates Night,” I feel the residents of our district will not have an opportunity to listen to the views of all of the candidates. It would be helpful to have a venue where we as candidates could voice our views and allow the residents of Island Trees to make an informed decision about who they feel should represent them on the Island Trees School Board.

Medellin: Excellence in education has always been in Island Trees and I would be proud to serve as part of that tradition.

Storm: Failure is not an option when it comes to the education of our children. Whatever sacrifices must be made to ensure that our district continues to lead is all that really matters; bringing a common sense approach back to local politics is a great way to start that ball rolling.


Running for President:

Tribune: Why are you running?

Kristen Daum: Education is one of the most important things in life we can give our children so I am very interested in a quality education. At the same time, I want to make the community we live in better and yet affordable, especially for those residents without children in the school system. There has been much dissension in our community over the last few years, whether on the board of education or between the board of education and members of the community. In these already tough times, dissension is not what we need in order to bring our community back together. We need to work together towards an end that is good for all parties involved, including the parents, teachers, administrators, civil service employees and community members. I want to be a part of a team that the community can be proud of while getting the responsibilities as trustee accomplished.

Brian Kelty: I am running to represent the entire Island Trees taxpaying community. I have the support of young families with children attending school, as well as the support of senior citizens who desire to continue to live in this great community. I have promised to represent all of them. I want to help maintain an excellent educational system while delivering it in the most cost-effective manner.

Tribune: Have you ever run for BOE before?

Daum: No.

Kelty: I ran in 2007 and 2009.

Tribune: Have you ever held a BOE position before?

Daum: No.

Kelty: No.

Tribune: What is your day job?

Daum: Homemaker.

Kelty: I am retired from the New York City Fire Department.

Tribune: Please give a brief bio with family information, past interaction with school district or community-related activities.

Daum: I received a BS in accounting and law from Clarkson University and earned my CPA in the state of New York and worked in big business for 15 years. I have lived in this community for the past 15 years. I live with my husband, John and my son, who attends the Memorial Middle School. I am and have been actively involved with the boards of the Island Trees PTAs as well as the Island Trees Soccer Club. I currently serve as treasurer for the soccer club. In the coming year, I will also be serving as PTA Council vice president and treasurer of the Island Trees Parent Teacher Student Association.

Kelty: I am married to my wife Lisa for 26 years. We have four sons. My wife served for many years as class mother while my sons attended Island Trees schools. I coached baseball for many years in both the Island Trees Little League as well as the LSW League. I participated in the community panel formed by former Superintendent Jim Parla to address the community uproar over the renaming of Island Trees Memorial Middle School. I worked with the entire panel, the board, and the administration to restore the proper name to our Memorial School, which was dedicated to our fallen heroes. That controversy resulted in a very dark time in this community. I am very proud of my participation in that panel.

Tribune: What makes you a good candidate for this BOE position?

Daum: I have a degree in accounting and earned my CPA and have a good knowledge of finances and budget issues. Ethics and integrity are expected from a CPA and I try to live my life as such. Through my involvement in the schools and soccer club, I have strived to excel in both of these areas by maintaining the by-laws that govern the group I am involved in and being fiscally responsible, all while doing what is in the best interests of the children in our community. Involvement, whether it is at the school or community level, is what is important to me and I continue to serve to lend my knowledge and talents where it is necessary.

Kelty: I have attended school board meetings, budget hearings, work sessions, PTA meetings, and audit committee meetings for many years in this district.

I feel I have the knowledge and experience to assist the Island Trees Board of Education in leading our community through the toughest economic times since I moved here in 1986. I have the support of people who range in age from 20 to 90. I gave them my solemn promise to represent all of them.

Tribune: If elected, what are your goals for the district?

Daum: My goal is to provide the highest level of education for our children while managing the tax costs to the community. I would like to find ways to balance the school budget with minimal increases in school taxes.

Kelty: If elected, I will work hard every day to help to continue the great tradition of the Island Trees experience. This is a great community and I would be honored to serve.