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Long IslandEducation

Center Moriches school district


7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday at Clayton Huey Elementary School.


The district is proposing a $41,232,733 budget for 2016-17, a 2.89 percent increase from the current $40,074,666. The tax levy would rise by 2.34 percent, from $21,635,064 to $22,141,324.

This increase is within the district’s tax-cap limit of 3.08 percent, so a simple majority will be required to approve the budget.

School taxes on an average single-family house would increase by 2.34 percent, from $7,060.42 to $7,225.63.

The proposed budget calls for a 1.5 percent raise for teachers and would add a clinician, additional LOTE (Languages Other than English) classes at the middle school, additional clubs at the elementary, middle and high school, additional AP classes, elective offerings and math labs, and the replacement of the middle school bleachers.

  • District website:


Incumbents Darrell L. Iehle and Robyn Rayburn (Bielski) and candidates Marcus Babzien, Janice Graf, Victoria Moschello, Loriann Patanjo and Kelly Platt are running for three at-large seats. The two highest vote-getters will serve three-year terms, while the third-highest vote-getter will serve a one-year term. Iehle, Patanjo and Rayburn are running as a slate, while Graf and Moschello are running as a team.

Marcus Babzien

BACKGROUND: Babzien, 48, is a laser scientist at Brookhaven National Laboratory. He has lived in the district for 12 years, and has two children in district schools. He has a bachelor’s degree in physics from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a master’s degree in instrumentation in physics from Stony Brook University. He has served on the board of education’s facilities advisory committee and its technology committee since 2014.

ISSUES: Babzien said the most important issue facing the district “is the continued implementation of both state-mandated and local academic standards and goals that improve opportunities and actual achievement of all of our students, while operating within the current fiscal constraints imposed by the state tax cap and contractual obligations.” He said there “still exist areas of improvement that would enable the district to meet its goals. Through strong communication and analytical skills, I would work with the other board members and administration to identify such budgetary and curriculum improvements.”

Janice Graf

BACKGROUND: Graf, 60, has lived in the district for 14 years. She has taught art at Center Moriches High School for 30 years, and plans to retire this year in anticipation of serving on the board of education. Graf has a bachelor’s degree in art education and a master’s degree in elementary education and reading, both from Dowling College. She also is president-elect of the Moriches Rotary Club of New York and is on the board of directors of Camp Pa-Qua-Tuck, a summer camp for children with disabilities.

ISSUES: Graf said she sees lack of accountability as the major issue. “Accountability should be embraced, not feared, in order for our students to become productive members of society,” she said. “I’m appalled by our state report-card ranking, how our students are scoring. I think our kids can do better.” She added that administrators pressure teachers to give students passing grades “whether it is deserved or not.” She added: “I’ve been in the trenches for 30 years — I really know what is going on more than anyone else.”

Darrell L. Iehle

BACKGROUND: Iehle, 47, has served on the board since last year and is its current vice president. He has lived in the district for eight years, and has two children attending district schools. He graduated from Center Moriches High School and is the principal owner of Certus Controls, a Plainview building-automation contractor, and is the founder of the Certus Controls STEM Scholarship.

ISSUES: Iehle said he believes that under the current board leadership, the district “is on a positive course for the future.” He wants to keep the budget under the state tax cap, continue to negotiate “fair and equitable contracts” with administrators and bargaining units, and develop an ongoing maintenance program for infrastructure that would “limit the necessity and size of bonds for repairs.” He said his main focus is making sure work is properly carried out on an $8.2 million bond issue passed last year.

Victoria Moschello

BACKGROUND: Moschello, 36, has lived in the district for 23 years. She attended Center Moriches High School, and has two children in district schools. She is a retail associate at Victoria’s Secret.

ISSUES: Moschello sees accountability as a top issue. She said she wants to “raise expectations from all students, parents, teachers, administrators and board members in order for students to reach their full potential and become productive members of society.” Moschello said she opposes the proposed budget due to the tax hike. She also said she believes too much money goes to administrative salaries and that the children should benefit more considering the amount of taxes people pay. She said she wants “to see our school district ranked higher, and become more comparable with surrounding districts.”

Loriann Patanjo

BACKGROUND: Patanjo, 41, has lived in the district for 16 years. She has a child attending a district school. She is an office manager at Little Miss Sew It All in East Moriches. She studied business administration and marketing at Suffolk County Community College, and currently is second vice-president of the Center Moriches PTA.

ISSUES: Patanjo said the most important issue facing the district is “community disengagement. They have become apathetic to the ‘status quo’ and don’t feel that they have a voice. I want to be a two-way vessel of questions and information, obviously within the rules of confidentiality ... I want our taxpayers to feel confident knowing how their money is being spent.”

Kelly Platt

BACKGROUND: Platt, 49, has lived in the district for 15 years. She has three children who have attended or are attending district schools. Platt studied practical nursing at Nassau BOCES. She works as a pharmacy technician and is currently a pharmacology student at Suffolk County Community College and is enrolled at Stony Brook University for the fall. She also is a reporter for the South Shore Press. She has served on the Center Moriches Board of Education’s finance and facility advisory committees.

ISSUES: Platt said the district has too many administrators considering its small student population, and she said she wants the salaries and number of such positions reduced. Partly for that reason, she said, she is urging voters to reject the proposed budget. She also said bargaining units such as para-professionals that are working without a contract should be given one, and she believes other employees, such as security guards, should be given contracts. Para-professionals were removed from some classrooms and should be returned, she said.

Robyn Rayburn (Bielski)

BACKGROUND: Rayburn, 37, has lived in the district her entire life. She has three children that attend district schools. Rayburn has a bachelor’s degree in history from St. Joseph’s College and a master’s degree in liberal studies from Stony Brook University.

ISSUES: “Providing all of the children of Center Moriches with a great well-rounded education while maintaining fiscal responsibility is the most important issue for our district,” Rayburn said. She added that she believed the board of education worked hard this year to develop a budget “that will add to our program while at the same time staying below our tax cap.” She also said the board has engaged in valuable dialogue with the public.

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