Good Evening
Good Evening
Long IslandEducation

Islip school district


6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday at Islip High School.


The district proposes an $80,882,464 budget for 2016-17, an increase of 3.36 percent from the current $78,252,726.

The tax levy would rise by 1.74 percent, from $55,497,195 to $56,462,846.

This increase exceeds the district’s tax-cap limit of -2.05 percent, so the district would need at least 60 percent voter approval of the budget.

School taxes on the average single-family home would rise by 1.74 percent, from $7,294 with the School Tax Relief (STAR) exemption to $7,421 with the exemption.

The district said it is negotiating with its teachers over salary. The proposed budget includes reductions of 2.5 instructional staff, one full-time and 3 part-time noninstructional staff, a part-time teacher assistant position and a part-time support staff position.

The district is adding two full-time equivalent classroom positions, two instructional aides, two monitors and one psychologist to staff its REACH program, a structured learning environment for special education kindergartners.

  • District website:


There are two by-seat positions open. Incumbent Russell Dietz is being challenged by Matthew Clareen and Dominick Pernice. Incumbent Catherine Romano is being challenged by Danielle Flora. Terms are three years.

Matthew Clareen

BACKGROUND: Clareen, 23, works as a substitute teacher in the West Islip and Kings Park school districts. He has a bachelor’s degree in social science and secondary education at Dowling. He is a member of several board committees, the Islip Booster Club and other school-related organizations.

ISSUES: Clareen said he will focus on making sure students are prepared for post-high school life, and seek to increase the district’s emphasis on reading and writing courses as well as more vocational and career training. He said it’s also important to scrutinize the budget and look for ways to consolidate, manage better and cut waste to keep costs from rising, he said. “I’m running because, to put it simply, I love the Islip community I was raised in,” Clareen said.

Russell Dietz

BACKGROUND: Dietz, 47, is a lieutenant with the Fire Department of New York. He is studying toward a bachelor’s degree in emergency management at SUNY Empire State College. Dietz is a volunteer with the Islip Fire Department and has been a coach and president with the Police Athletic League youth football in Islip. He has three sons in district schools, and he is seeking his second term on the board.

ISSUES: “Education shouldn’t be the political football it is,” he said. “Let the teachers teach and children learn.” He said he wants state officials to more thoroughly think things through before it rolls out programs like Common Core. He also said he wants the state to get money back to the districts and cut back on unfunded mandates. “It’s all about the kids. We need the community to support us,” he said. “If everyone would do a little bit it would be extremely helpful.”

Danielle Flora

BACKGROUND: Flora, 41, a secretary, formerly worked as a guidance counselor in Brooklyn. She attended the University of Delaware for two years, has a bachelor’s degree in psychology and sociology at SUNY Oneonta and a master’s degree in school counseling at LIU. She is on the PTA board, is a leader with the Girl Scouts, and is active in several groups opposing Common Core testing. Her three children attend district schools.

ISSUES: The biggest issues she sees facing the district are monetary because of decreased funding and unfunded mandates, and the loss of local control in teaching because of Common Core standards and excessive testing. Flora said she would work to inform residents about these issues, make educationally sound decisions best for local residents and work to get legislation passed at the state level to address the problems.

Dominick Pernice

BACKGROUND: Pernice, 45, is administrative director of radiology and cardiovascular services at St. Catherine of Siena Medical Center in Smithtown and St. Charles Hospital in Port Jefferson. He has a bachelor’s degree in radiology and a master’s of business administration, both from LIU Post. He has three children — two attend district schools, and one attends a special-needs program in Center Moriches.

ISSUES: Pernice said he wants to learn more about educating the special-needs population. “I want to become more involved and understand the inner workings and make it better for any other parent struggling with the same issues,” he said. He said he would apply his management, budget and analytical skills to board discussions and issues the district faces.

Catherine Romano

BACKGROUND: Romano, 58, is serving her 12th year on the board. She previously worked as a corporate trainer, teacher and co-director of Islip Community Nursery School. She has a bachelor’s degree in business management from St. John’s University and a master’s degree in education at Dowling, She served as school board president from 2005 until 2014, is a member of other community groups and was active in the PTA. Her daughter attended district schools.

ISSUES: Romano said she believes keeping up on education and policy issues is part of making sure children are well-prepared, with the right blend of academic and life skills upon graduation, and doing it at a reasonable cost is important. Romano said she spends time studying those points, while networking and letting legislators know the impact policies have at the local level. She also said she wants to continue working on “what is best for children and putting them first.”

Latest Long Island News