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Long IslandEducation

Longwood

SCHOOL VOTERS GUIDE

BUDGET

SPENDING $255,500,000, a 2.2 percent increase from the current $250,000,000.

TAX LEVY 2 percent increase, from $142,061,078 to $144,896,175. This is equal to the district’s 2 percent tax-cap limit, so a simple majority vote is required for approval.

TEACHER PAY / PROGRAMS Includes a 1 percent contractual increase and an average 2.3 percent step increase.

WHEN | WHERE

7 a.m. to 9 p.m. at Charles E. Walters, Coram, Ridge and West Middle Island elementary schools. longwood.k12.ny.us

CANDIDATES

Josephine M. Bailey, William Massian, Rhonda Stitham and incumbents David W. Pfister and Maureen E. Silvestri are running for two seats, elected at-large. Terms are three years.

Josephine M. Bailey

BACKGROUND Bailey, who declined to give her age, has lived in the district more than 30 years. She is an administrator at the Little Flower residential treatment center in Wading River and an educator at the school attached to it. Bailey grew up in Coram and graduated from Suffolk County Community College in 1987 with an associate degree in community service. She earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology at Long Island University in 1989 and a master's degree in education from the school in 1995. She is vice president of the Gordon Heights Civic Association and a member of various civic and school groups, including the Coram Civic Association, NAACP, Longwood Policy Committee and Safety Committee. Her child graduated from district schools. This is her second run for the board.

KEY ISSUE “Connecting the district with the surrounding communities and involving teachers, parents and students through programs like a unity walk, gang awareness and dinner with a teacher,” she said.

William Massian

BACKGROUND Massian, 39, is a lifelong district resident and a 1998 graduate of Longwood High School. He runs his own contracting company and has received numerous construction, masonry and maintenance certifications. He sits on the district’s budget, safety and legislative committees and is a youth soccer coach. He is a member of the PTA and a prior PTA council member. He has two children in district schools. This is his second run for the board.

KEY ISSUE “We need to promote more trades education in our schools. … College is not an option for everybody, and this country has a shortage of skilled blue-collar workers.”

Rhonda Stitham

BACKGROUND Stitham, 46, has lived in the district 24 years. She is an academic intervention and enrichment teacher in the William Floyd school district. Stitham grew up in Lynchburg, Virginia, and graduated from Lynchburg College in 1994 with a bachelor’s degree in education. She earned a master's degree in education from Dowling College in 2000. Stitham was awarded an educational specialist degree from Liberty University in 2014 and graduated from Concordia University-Portland in 2018 with a doctorate in educational leadership. She is a member of the district’s legislative committee. She has two children in district schools. This is her second run for the board.

KEY ISSUE The district needs “fair and balanced evaluations for teachers and students … we need to work on alternate forms of assessment with alternate pathways to graduation including the trade careers.”

David W. Pfister

BACKGROUND Pfister, 47, has lived in the district 16 years. He is a director for Russell Reynolds Associates, a management consulting firm. He received his bachelor's degree in technical writing from New York Institute of Technology in 1994. Pfister graduated from St. Joseph’s College with a master's degree in organizational management in 2008 and earned his master's of business administration from the college in 2009. He serves on multiple district committees, is a PTA member and a past PTA committee chairman, and is a scouting leader. He has two children in district schools. He is seeking his second term on the board.

KEY ISSUE District officials must monitor local development that too often bring payments in lieu of taxes, or PILOTs, that are far lower than what taxes would bring, he said. “We’re getting large swaths of students coming in and not getting adequate tax revenue. … It has a direct impact on class size, our ability to keep taxes low and keep within the tax cap.” One solution would be to push for 55-and-older housing instead of unrestricted development, he said.

Maureen E. Silvestri

BACKGROUND Silvestri, 76, has lived in the district 43 years. She is a homemaker who grew up in Manhattan. She attended Seward Park High School. Four children attended district schools and three grandchildren now attend them. She served on the school board from 1989 to 1992 and from 1994 to present.

KEY ISSUE “I’d like to see the whole staff,” including teachers and administrators, clock in and out, a practice she said now is only required for CSEA members such as clerical staff and assistants. “Everybody should be accountable — you’re there on time and you clock out, and not somebody else for you.”

CORRECTION: A previous version of this entry incorrectly stated that two candidates were running as a team. 

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