North Fork Board of Education voters’ guide
On Tuesday, May 16, North Fork school district residents will vote on proposed school budgets and decide who will serve on their local school boards.
There are contested races in three area districts: Mattituck, Southold and Greenport.
In the Mattituck-Cutchogue district, three candidates are vying for two open seats on the school board.
Incumbent and current board president Patricia Arslanian is seeking a second term this year.
Ms. Arslanian, 67, lives in Mattituck. She is a retired teacher. She has a bachelors and masters in English education from Stony Brook University.
She believes that the three most pressing issues the district is facing are declining enrollment, maintaining a balanced budget in a “fiscally difficult economy” and recruiting and maintaining quality staff “despite geographic location and housing issues.”
“I am passionate about giving back to my community and continuing the work I have been involved in the past three years as a member of the BOE,” she said.
She will face newcomer Lorraine Warren, 45, a stay-at-home mom from Mattituck. Ms. Warren has a bachelor’s degree from Stonehill College and is an active member of the district’s Parent Teacher Student Association. She wants to improve efforts to prevent substance abuse among students and believes the district’s most pressing issue is diminishing enrollment.
“I think it’s important to be proactive in considering what the future of our district could look like with diminishing enrollment,” she said. “We will need to implement creative ideas to continue offering all of the classes, activities and traditions that are currently available to our students.”
Also on the ballot is Mattituck resident Lauren Ocker, 39, a high school honors and regents chemistry teacher. She has a bachelor’s degree in biology from SUNY/Cortland and a master’s degree from Stony Brook University.
She believes the three most pressing issues facing the district are declining enrollment, increasing costs and the tax cap.
“We have had shared teams and programs with neighboring districts for many years and I think continuing to pool the available resources and work together is not only important to maintaining certain programs, but it also allows our students to connect with other neighboring districts in a unique way,” Ms. Ocker said.
Three seats are available on the Southold Union Free School District Board of Education. Incumbents Scott Latham and Brian Tobin are running for reelection against four other candidates: Thomas Grattan Jr, Thomas Kennedy, Kristian Prior and Marta Thomas.
Mr. Tobin, 55, lives in Southold. He is a firefighter for the city of New York. He has a bachelor’s degree from Mount Saint Mary’s University.
He believes that the three most pressing issues facing the district are helping students prepare for vocational or post-secondary career paths, adapting to enrollment fluctuations and ensuring the “physical plant of the district stays relevant.”
Mr. Latham, 54, lives in Southold. He is a lieutenant at the Southold Police Department. He has a bachelor’s degree from Ithaca College. He is running for his fifth term on the board of education.
He believes declining enrollment, the learning loss brought on by the pandemic and inflation are the top three most pressing issues that the district is currently facing.
He supports the district’s budget proposal.
“I think it’s a fair budget proposal that respects our taxpayers during this time of inflation while also keeping instructional offerings, sports, arts, transportation, extra-curricular activities and student supports intact,” he said.
Mr. Kennedy, 53, is a lieutenant colonel in the Air National Guard and has a bachelor’s from St. John’s University. He lives in Southold.
He cites decreased enrollment, lasting effects of the pandemic on the education system and increasing access to digital resources for students as the district’s three most pressing issues
Mr. Grattan, 54, is the owner of Sophie’s Rest and Tom Grattan Lawn Care. He lives in Peconic. His survey response did not specify where he attended high school or college.
Mr. Grattan said his top three issues for the BOE are budget increases, diminishing enrollment and the need “to introduce new programs for students without exploding the budget.”
Mr. Prior, 40, is a lieutenant in the New York City Fire Department. The Peconic resident holds a bachelor’s degree in computer science from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
He doesn’t believe there are any pressing issues facing the school district.
“I think it’s a great school district that is evolving with the times,” Mr. Prior said. “As a board member, I’d like to maintain what has been accomplished in the Southold school district.”
Ms. Thomas, 43, is the manager of Cornell Oysters and lives in Southold. She has a bachelor’s degree in business management from Stony Brook University.
“The three most pressing issues, in my opinion, are making sure our children are safe and experience school as a safe place in today’s world, maintaining quality programs with our decreasing enrollment and addressing social and [fostering] emotional learning by identifying students in need of these services,” Ms. Thomas said.
Only one seat is up for grabs on the Greenport Union Free School District Board of Education. Incumbent and board vice president Kirsten Droskoski is seeking another term, and being challenged by newcomer Amanda Clark.
Ms. Droskoski, 58, manages air BNB’s and is the bookkeeper for her family business, Birchwood Landscapes. She is running for her 10th year on the Greenport school board.
Ms. Droskoski wants to maintain the happiness of the district’s students and staff as a priority.
“I am committed to continuously finding ways to improve our school building and programs for our students and staff as well a ensuring our students receive a well-rounded education that will prepare them for a future of success no matter what path they choose,” she said.
Ms. Clark, 41, is an Olympian and a sailing professional, as well as an owner of local businesses Mermaid Water Solutions and Goldman Water testing. A Greenport resident, she has a bachelor’s from Connecticut College.
She believes the three most pressing issues facing the school district are increasing costs, student enrollment and educational standards.
“It is important to support the budget to provide stability, confidence in our students, teachers, administration and staff,” Ms. Clark said.
•Oysterponds school board vice president Janice Caufield and board member Jeffrey Demarest are both running unopposed for reelection.
In New Suffolk, Brooke Dailey is also running unopposed for the school board’s single open seat.