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Five Vie For Three Seats On Syosset School Board

(Editor’s Note: The school board election and budget vote will take place on Tuesday, May 15. The statements by the following four candidates were submitted by the candidates themselves: the fifth candidate, Chris DiFillipo, did not submit a statement or photo in time for this article.)

Joshua Lafazan

Joshua Lafazan, a candidate seeking a position on the Syosset School Board has been a student in the Syosset School District for the past 13 years. During this time he has played an active role in school government and is currently the senior class president at Syosset High School.

Lafazan is a National Honor Society inductee, 2011; World Language Honor Society inductee, 2011; national finalist, Washington DC Congressional Debate tournament, May 2011; national finalist, Princeton Invitational Debate Tournament, 2010; semi finalist NY State Tournament 2009.

Lafazan is certified by the Red Cross as a lifeguard and for CPR, a Nassau County High School certified basketball referee, a referee for Syosset Basketball League, a referee for Syosset Soccer Club and a coach in the Syosset Rookie League.

Lafazan may not pay school taxes as a homeowner in the district but has worked steadily with multiple jobs and has paid income tax and filed tax returns for the past three years. In addition to his work experience in athletics, he was an intern at Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, Jericho in the fall of 2010 through the spring of 2011. He volunteers two weeks each summer at the Sunrise Day Camp (a camp for children being treated for cancer), and has worked as a lifeguard. In the summer of 2011 he worked at the Nassau County Executive’s office.

Lafazan’s willingness to play an active role within the community is most clearly demonstrated by the creation and implementation of Safe Ride Syosset. Lafazan is the founder and CEO of this community outreach program whose objective is to prevent any Syosset student from ever getting into a car with a driver who is impaired by drugs or alcohol. His willingness to sacrifice his free time and motivate other students to do the same, solely to ensure the safety of Syosset students, highlights his leadership abilities and his willingness to get involved not only to discuss difficult issues but to find solutions to these problems.

Lafazan expects to find innovative ways to reduce expenses in the district and to find new sources of revenue with the intention not only to keep the Syosset School District financially sound but to grow a special reserve fund to protect all the extracurricular activities Syosset students currently enjoy.

John Moore

John Moore has been a volunteer in the Syosset community since he moved into the district. He has never run for public office before and has no further political aspirations. His interest in this position is strictly as a community volunteer. If elected, he will make every effort to ensure that the district continues and extends the benefits that the district currently provides to the families in this community. He will also work closely with the current and returning board members to provide oversight of the school administration as they continue their effort to contain and reduce costs.

He has lived in Syosset with his wife (Kelly) and three children since 2001. Moore currently has one child in SHS, one in Southwoods Middle School, and one in Village Elementary School. He works for Carrier Corporation, a division of United Technologies (UTX). Moore is currently the manager of sales strategy for its commercial service business in North America.

His education and credentials include: bachelor’s of engineering, electrical engineering, SUNY Maritime College; MBA with Distinction, finance, Hofstra University; Licensed professional engineer, State of New York; United States Naval Reserve Officer (honorably discharged); and LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design)  accredited professional.

As you are probably aware, the district has been under pressure to maintain or improve the current level of child services without increasing the school budget. This has come during a period of increasing employee and operational expenses along with significant changes in state aid. Moore believes that in order to maintain and expand the effort that we have seen over the past few years, we will need to look creatively at how we manage the school district.

One thing Moore says he has heard from many in the community is concern regarding the future of the services that the children currently receive. While SCSD is recognized for its academic excellence, one of the things that he is most pleased with in regard to his children’s education is the availability of non-core services. “Items that have benefited my children include extra help with academics, art classes, introduction to finance, and use of district facilities for community sports programs,” Moore said. While pressure to reduce costs will continue to challenge the district administration, if elected to the school board, Moore says he will never lose sight of the importance of programs like these.

“I believe that my experience in finance, business management, sustainable design, and facility operations will help me to provide insight into some of the challenges the district now faces. Also, my leadership experience, and my position as a community volunteer will serve me well as I collaborate with other board members with regard to oversight of the school administration when deciding on complex policy issues that will affect community stakeholders,” said the candidate.

Alan Resnick

Dr. Alan Resnick is proud to be completing his first term serving as a trustee of the Syosset Board of Education. As a physician with a practice on Long Island, he had many options of where to raise, and more importantly, educate his family, but moved into the district in 1992, with his wife and 1-year-old daughter for one reason: the quality and reputation of the schools.

After having two other children, the family decided to reside here permanently. Today, Resnick’s son and youngest daughter are both students in Syosset High School, and his oldest daughter (a 2009 Syosset High School graduate) is a junior in college. Throughout the years he has been an involved parent, just like most others in the district. He has coached multiple youth sports teams for both boys and girls. Resnick has actively participated in school activities, whether serving pizza in elementary school, participating in carnivals and sports nights, attending concerts and plays, and attending every parent-teacher conference possible, all while juggling the demands of a demanding practice.

Ten years ago, Resnick became one of the original board members of Syosset Youth Lacrosse (SYLAX), a position he resigned upon election to the school board, so as to avoid any potential conflicts of interest. “I am no different than hundreds of Syosset parents. I simply want the very best possible education for my children. My children have benefited greatly from the education they received from Syosset schools (most of which occurred prior to my election to the board), and current and future students deserve the same,” said Resnick.

During his term, the board has reduced costs by $15 million, via consolidation of services with other districts, attrition, and elimination of administrative positions, to name a few, without taking away any programs. If this year’s budget is passed, an additional $5 million in expenses will be saved. The success of the school district remains a cooperative effort. The superintendent has taken a pay freeze, and has vowed to never take another increase in her salary.  Every one of the bargaining units, from the principals and teachers, to the custodians and civil servants, has taken some sort of pay freeze to ensure that the district could present a budget that met the state imposed tax cap. As a school district, Syosset is legally bound by New York State to pay for the increase in benefits and pension payments; that increase is in the millions.

Resnick would like to see a budget without any increase as much as any other resident. Unfortunately, without a significant decrease in the educational offerings to the children, it is simply not possible. 

The experience that the candidate has gained over the past three years has shown him how much detail there is to running a district of this size and stature. The ability to understand the budgetary issues, the pension and benefit issues, and the occasional disciplinary issues, and most importantly, to deal with these in the most professional manner, with the utmost discretion, takes a level of understanding and maturity that can only be gained by years of management experience, says Resnick. He has managed a medical practice with over 40 employees for the past 13 years, and has coordinated the efforts of hundreds of medical professionals and ancillary staff in directing the operating rooms at one of the premier hospitals for cardiac care in the country.

Resnick has always been available to the residents who have questions or concerns, and those who have contacted him can attest to the fact that they have gotten a response from the district. “I feel I am truly representative of most of the adults in Syosset. I believe deeply in the importance of higher education. I am intensely devoted to my children, as are virtually all of our residents, and wanted to be involved in their schooling, music lessons, sports, etc. I want my children to be well prepared in order to excel at the best colleges that are most appropriate for them.  Just as all residents are, I am concerned about the value of my home and the property taxes that I pay. I can represent the community, because I am the community. Please remember to vote on May 15,” said Resnick.

Sonia Rutiglano

Sonia Rutigliano has been a member of this community for the past 27 years, is a local business owner and homeowner, and has had four children graduate from the Syosset School District. Throughout those 27 years, she says she has witnessed a consistency from the Syosset School Board that she is proud to align herself with as she campaigns for your vote during this election.

“We have witnessed some tremendous economic hard times this past decade, but throughout that time our school district has remained strong and upheld the same standard of excellence that was afforded to my oldest son 27 years ago when he entered this school district,” said Rutigliano.

The Syosset School District is nationally recognized for its diverse curriculum, special education and after-school programs, and attentive teachers. It is for these reasons that Rutigliano first moved to this district. Those same programs and standards are still in place, and that is due to the importance the school board and superintendent have equally placed on both students and the taxpayers, she says.

As both a parent and a business and homeowner, Rutigliano supports the school board’s mission to remain fiscally responsible to its taxpayers. In her three years on the board, she has personally worked alongside fellow board members to reduce the school budget $15 million, without cutting any services and programs. The board supports children’s individual interests and Rutigliano is proud to say that through these economic ups and downs, the board has been able to preserve sports and arts programs, as well as special-interest classes.

Just as importantly, Rutigliano says, the school district has one of the best special education programs, and it continues to flourish, providing special needs children with the attention and care they deserve to excel. The board has consistently worked within the budget parameters set by the government to provide a top-notch education system and will continue to do so, while also upholding the needs of our taxpayers, she says.

Throughout her time as a resident of this community, she has consistently held an active role in the district, having served as president, vice president, corresponding secretary and treasurer at the elementary, middle school, high school, and council levels. She supports the district’s goal of continuing to provide the standard of excellence that was afforded to each of her children, and is looking forward to the opportunity to continue her work alongside her fellow board members to uphold the district’s stellar reputation, providing the children with the education each of them deserve to succeed.

“Thank you very much for your support in this election. Please don’t forget to vote on May 15. Your vote is very important to continue the excellence,” said the candidate.