Written by Rich Forestano Thursday, 26 June 2014 00:00
With tears welling up in his eyes, Mineola School Board trustee William Hornberger presided over his final meeting last week. He announced last April he would not seek re-election. Newcomer Margaret Ballantyne-Mannion won an unopposed election in May and will fill the open seat vacated by Hornberger.
He was first elected to the board in 2008 and re-elected in 2011, serving as board president and vice president in that span. The Williston Park resident oversaw the reconfiguration of the district, which included the closing of the Cross Street and Willis Avenue schools, one of the more challenging times in the district’s history. Those two schools have since been leased out to Solomon Schechter Day School and Harbor Child Care, respectively.
“I thank [the board] for [their] time, devotion and commitment to Mineola,” he said. “As each trustee can attest, I share my thoughts freely and I thank you for opening my eyes and ears to your thoughts and ideas.”
School Board Vice President Christine Napolitano is now the longest running board member. She ran for trustee in 2009 and is now the last trustee of a previous board that helped shepherd the reconfiguration.
“Will has always been known as a numbers guy, but really, he was much more than that and through [reconfiguration] he kept his eyes where they needed to be, on the students,” she said, fighting tears of her own. “Thanks for standing with me for the past five years.”
District Superintendent Michael Nagler called Hornberger a “friend” and while they didn’t agree all the time (he has voted the most against Nagler’s contract), he noted without Hornberger, the district would have suffered.
“What Will does have is the ability to see into the future,” Nagler said. “I am positive had we not reconfigured, we would have lost many programs we currently have.”
School Board President Artie Barnett said he’d be running for another term to “finish Will’s vision.”
“Will stepped up to do something and he succeeded,” Barnett said. “The school district is better off because of his service and he should be proud of the change he brought.”
Trustee Patricia Navarra appreciated his guidance during her first year on the board.
“As District Council president I fought you on a regular basis,” Navarra joked. “I also campaigned for you and supported your vision and feel very fortunate to have worked with you this past year.”
Trustee Nicole Matzer, the newest board member, noted Hornbeger’s tenacity in asking the right questions.
“I just want to thank [Will] for his service to the children and the community,” Matzer said. “And for asking all the tough questions and answering all of mine and the guidance you have given me. I will miss you sitting [next to me].”