Overcast 36° Good Afternoon
Overcast 36° Good Afternoon


6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday at Commack Middle School and Commack High School.


The district proposes a $190,163,464 budget for 2017-18, a 1.4 percent increase from the current $187,532,818. The tax levy would rise 1.99 percent, from $132,432,249 to $135,067,651. This increase is within the district’s tax-cap limit of 2 percent, so a simple majority vote will be required to approve the budget.

School taxes on the average single-family house would increase 1.99 percent, from $10,518 to $10,727.

Teachers will receive a flat pay increase of approximately $1,000.


There are two by-seat positions. William J. Hender and April Pancella Haupt are running for one seat. Incumbent Janine DiGirolamo is being challenged by Jennifer Carpenter. Hender and Carpenter are running as a team. Terms are three years.

Jennifer Carpenter

BACKGROUND: Carpenter, 44, who has lived in the district for 36 years, is the lead teacher and field trip director at a Long Island farm. She has two bachelor degrees from Dowling College in Oakdale. She is the administrator for The Love of Learning, a Commack-based Facebook education advocacy group. Carpenter is the district’s liaison for Long Island Opt Out, which provides information about parents’ right to have their children refuse to take standardized tests. She is a member of the district’s Common Core Advocacy Committee. Carpenter’s three children attend district schools.

ISSUES: Carpenter said she would bring to the board 20 years of experience as an educator who has “worked with a multitude of children from pre-K to 12th grade.” She said she understands “the developmental, academic, physical and socio-emotional needs our children must possess to be successful at each stage of their school career.” The most important issue facing the district, she said, is “the continued loss of local control of our classrooms.” Carpenter said, “Common Core standards, inappropriate over-testing of our children and the uncertainty of a fair teacher evaluation system threaten the well-rounded education Commack has traditionally given its students.”

Janine DiGirolamo

BACKGROUND: DiGirolamo, 53, a self-described housewife and mother, is a lifelong district resident. A 1981 graduate of Commack South High School, she has a degree in computer programming from Grumman Data Systems Institute. She attended Suffolk County Community College for two years and Farmingdale State College, also for two years. She has two children, one a district graduate and one currently attending a district school. DiGirolamo was active in district PTAs and served as a Commack Middle School PTA executive board member and president of the Commack PTA council. She was elected to the school board in 2014 and currently serves as its vice president.

ISSUES: DiGirolamo said that if re-elected she would “continue to dedicate the same time and energy, which I have consistently put forth these past three years, into advocating, locally and in Albany, for our students and our district.” She said she would continue meeting with legislators “to help them understand the impact of imposing costly demands on districts.” Those demands, she said, include “unfunded mandates, laws and policies passed down, by the state and federal governments, without regard to our wants and needs as a district, community and taxpayers.” She said, “I will continue to be a fresh and vital addition to this district’s Board of Ed.”

April Pancella Haupt

BACKGROUND: Haupt, 49, is an attorney in private practice, specializing in estate planning and elder law. She has lived in the district for 13 years. Haupt has a bachelor’s degree from Boston College and a law degree from Boston College Law School. She is active in the district’s PTAs and has served on PTA executive boards as a treasurer and recording secretary. Haupt currently serves as the district’s PTA council nutrition chair. She has been a local Girl Scout leader for the past 10 years. Her two children attend district schools.

ISSUES: Haupt said she has been active in the community for more than 11 years and that she wants to use her experience as an attorney and parent “to maintain and improve the quality of education in Commack.” Haupt said, “I can work with my fellow board members, the administration and the teachers to ensure that our students are provided with the highest quality educational experience both inside and outside the classroom.” Haupt said she would work to keep district class sizes small and expand upon enrichment programs in all the schools. She added, “I want to enhance community awareness of our schools through the Ambassador program, which brings community members into the schools to see what actually goes on in the classroom.”

William J. Hender

BACKGROUND: Hender, 38, has been an elementary school teacher for the past 16 years in the Kings Park school district, where he also coaches varsity soccer and softball. A district resident for more than three decades, he is a 1997 graduate of Commack High School. Hender has a bachelor’s degree from St. Joseph’s College in Patchogue and a master’s degree in literacy from LIU Post in Brookville. He currently is studying for a doctoral degree in educational administration at St. John’s University’s campus in Oakdale. Hender has two children, one of whom will start kindergarten in the district this fall, and the other not yet school age.

ISSUES: Hender said Commack “has been fortunate to have ‘weathered the storm’ ” of what he called “scary times within the field of public education” stemming from increased government spending mandates that are not funded. The district, he said, “has continued to provide an excellent education for our children,” although a key issue is “how long we will be able to sustain this quality for future generations.” Hender said the district should explore creative solutions to funding by forming a committee that includes “parents, students, teachers, community members, board members and administrators.”

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