Education

Three candidates vie for two open seats on Mattituck BOE

The Mattituck-Cutchogue Board of Education has proposed a $41.4 million budget that carries a tax levy increase of 1.75%.

Two additional propositions appear on the ballot, asking voters to approve spending $650,000 from the capital reserve fund on a new boiler at Cutchogue West, a new roof at Cutchogue East and a multipurpose room renovation at Mattituck-Cutchogue Jr./Sr. High School.

The second proposition would establish a repair reserve fund that can be funded up to $750,000 from annual budgetary appropriation or money remaining in the general fund and would be used for repairs and renovations.

See Also: North Fork districts adopt 2020-21 budgets

There are two Board of Education seats open, each with a three-year term. The candidates are as follows:

Patricia Arslanian

Ms. Arslanian, 65, is a retired Mattituck English teacher and has a daughter who graduated from the district in 2005. She has served as a PTA president, religious education teacher at Sacred Heart parish and spent six years as a trustee on the Mattituck-Laurel Library board.

“Now that I have retired, it is time to give back to my students who made each day an adventure, to the many teachers who encouraged me, collaborated with me, and supported me, to the parents who advocated for their children and reinforced that I had chosen the right career, and to the community, who never said no to requests that would make my students’ experiences richer,” she said.

In response to the COVID-19 crisis, she said the district must keep health and safety as a top priority while continuing to research distance learning in case the district must continue instruction in the format.

“One of the things that has become apparent during long distance learning is that there is an inequity from student to student in their distance learning experience,” she said.

Ms. Arslanian also said the district must prepare for anticipated cuts to state funding, and look into cost-saving measures, including delaying infrastructure projects, in addition to communicating with elected officials to advocate for aid. “Whatever decisions are made, how it impacts our students and their educational experiences is most important.”

She believes education is at a “crossroads,” and board officials should consider demographic, instructional shifts and cost to ensure students are receiving an “optimal” education.

Mary Lynn Hoeg

Ms. Hoeg, 53, is a mother of three Mattituck graduates and currently works as an office manager at the Hoeg Dental Group in Mattituck. While her children were in school, she was involved with the PTA organization, Booster Club, teaching religion as well as coaching soccer and lacrosse.

She was elected to the school board in 2016 and did not seek reelection in 2019. Ms. Hoeg said her business and education background and record of community involvement puts her in a “unique position” to help the district at a critical moment.

COVID-19, she said, presents several challenges for the board to consider, including additional classroom space, hand sanitizer stations and group gatherings. She is advocating to start a community-based coalition to evaluate virtual learning.

“I have experienced virtual learning firsthand with my own children and have ideas about what worked well and what areas need to be improved. In discussions with other parents, I know they have ideas too,” she said.

She vowed to be “careful and prudent” with tax dollars while working to get as much state aid as possible. During her previous term on the board, she was a member of the audit and finance committee. If state funding were to be reduced, she’d first consider students’ needs and involve the community in the decision making process. 

“I would seek to find creative ways to teach what is required in the most economical ways,” she said, adding that she’d be a “voice for all parents” in the community.

Brian Mealy

Mr. Mealy, 42, is a lifelong resident of Mattituck and works as a library clerk at Floyd Memorial Library and in member services at Peconic Landing.

He was first elected to a one-year term on the Mattituck-Cut-chogue board of education in 2016 and earned a full term in 2017.

In 2018, Mr. Mealy was elected to serve on the Eastern Suffolk BOCES board and was also awarded the Helen Wright Prince award by the Anti-Bias Task Force of Southold Town.

A member of the culture and diversity, personnel and negotiations, buildings & grounds and policy committees, Mr. Mealy hopes to continue creating and sustaining opportunities for students to be successful academically. Other priorities include supporting teachers and the emotional wellbeing of students.

In light of the current health crisis, he said the district must prioritize safety. 

“My priority is to make sure, even as we slowly enter into reopening phases, that we have proper [personal protective equipment] and continue to social distance and to make sure students, staff, and our community stay safe,” he said.

Mr. Mealy said the district should continue to work with state and federal officials to ensure state aid is preserved. He believes the district is on solid financial footing due to the energy performance contract completed last year and ongoing reductions to using out-of-house repair crews. He urged support for creating a repair reserve fund. “That would ensure an additional buffer to any reduction to state aid, and help us navigate a course to maintain fiscal solvency,” he said.