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Long IslandEducation

Mattituck-Cutchogue school district

VOTING

3 p.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday at Mattituck-Cutchogue Junior/Senior High School.

THE BUDGET

The district proposes a $40,333,921 budget for 2016-17, a 1.44 percent decrease from the current $40,924,934. The tax levy would rise by 0.39 percent, from $35,962,562 to $36,103,583.

The increase is within the district’s tax-cap limit of 0.46 percent, so a simple majority vote will be required to approve the budget.

School taxes on the average single-family home would increase by 0.14 percent, from $4,830 to $4,837.

The proposed budget includes estimated teacher salary increases subject to contract negotiations. It would add one security guard position but otherwise maintains current levels of school staffing and programs.

  • District website:

www.mufsd.com

THE CANDIDATES

Incumbent William Gatz and candidates George Haase, Edward Hassildine, MaryLynn Hoeg, Brian O. Mealy, Barbara Talbot and Tonya Kaiser-Witczak are running for three at-large seats. The two highest vote-getters will receive three-year terms, while the third highest vote-getter will receive a one-year term to fill a seat vacated by a resignation.

William Gatz

BACKGROUND: Gatz, 53, has lived in the district for 11 years. He was elected to the school board in 2010. Gatz has a bachelor’s degree in accounting from American University. He was a member of Cutchogue Stakeholders, an organization that provided community input and made recommendations to assist in Town of Southold planning. Gatz has three children that attended or are attending district schools.

ISSUES: Gatz said that during his school board tenure “our district has successfully balanced the educational needs of our students while adhering to the tax cap limits set by our legislators.” He said the school board faces difficult decisions in dealing with a decreasing student population, a trend he said is expected to continue. “The challenge will be how to maintain our buildings and grounds, while keeping technology current, supplementing our curricular opportunities and handling any new unfunded mandates,” he said. Gatz said the district should review the possibility of moving district offices to Cutchogue East Elementary School and exploring collaborative programs with other North Fork districts.

George Haase

BACKGROUND: Haase, 58, has lived in the district for four years. He owns and operates the Fig & Olive Bed and Breakfast in Cutchogue. Haase has a bachelor’s degree in accounting from LIU Post. He is the treasurer of the Mattituck-Cutchogue PTSA, and is a member of the North Fork Promotion Council, a tourism organization. Haase has a child who attends a district school.

ISSUES: Haase said he is running for the school board because recent school board elections have been uncontested. “There need to be interested parties getting involved to maintain the high level of education that has been established over the years” in the district, he said. Haase said, if elected, he would bring “organizational skills and the ability to work with people and get things done.” Haase said that the district is experiencing declining enrollment, and, “as enrollments go down there’s going to be pressure to eliminate services.” He continued: “We need to take the necessary steps now to ensure that our quality of education remains high.”

Edward Hassildine

BACKGROUND: Hassildine, who declined to give his age, has lived in the district for more than 20 years. He is an instructional technology specialist and an adjunct assistant professor at Suffolk County Community College. He has an associate degree in data processing from Suffolk County Community College, a bachelor’s degree in computer science from Alfred University, and a master’s degree in educational computing from Stony Brook University. Hassildine volunteered to design and maintain the website for Sacred Heart Parish in Cutchogue, and helps at parish faith-formation classes. His two children attend district schools.

ISSUES: Hassildine said the school budget is his top concern. “Continually changing technology, student enrollment and building maintenance can significantly affect the budget in any given year,” he said, adding: “I look forward to working collaboratively with fellow board members to help students.” Hassildine said, if elected, he would look forward to “listening to parent and community concerns.” He added, “I am all about providing honest and direct answers.” He said he’s “dedicated to strengthening community-school communications, technology, security, all while finding creative ways to save taxpayer dollars.”

MaryLynn Hoeg

BACKGROUND: Hoeg, 49, has lived in the district for 15 years. She said she is a homemaker, and her three children attend district schools. Hoeg has a bachelor’s degree in business, finance and economics from Mount St. Mary’s University, and a master’s degree in elementary education from Hunter College. Hoeg is a former coach for the North Fork Lacrosse Club, and she raises funds for the high school’s annual wrestling tournament. She is a member of the Mattituck-Cutchogue PTSA.

ISSUES: Hoeg said the most important issue facing the district is “maintaining the quality of the educational system and policies of the district while adapting to changes and controlling costs.” She said: “I will help bring about necessary changes because I will work hard, keep an open mind and do what is best for the community.” Hoeg said she would be a good board member because “I have children in the district and a background in education and finance.” She added: “I will use common sense and educate myself on all issues before spending taxpayer money.”

Brian O. Mealy

BACKGROUND: Mealy, 39, is a lifelong district resident. He studied American history, political science and vocal performance at the University of Connecticut. He works as a clerk at Floyd Memorial Library in Greenport. He is a board member of Peconic Green Growth, a nonprofit environmental group specializing in water-quality issues. He tutors English as a second language to students at the Riverhead Free Library.

ISSUES: Mealy said that he has attended school board meetings regularly over the past six months to listen to the board to “see how well they work together.” He said that “as a person of color” he would add a “unique perspective” to the school board. Mealy said he would also “have a younger perspective on technology.” Mealy said that the district can deal with declining enrollment “through good hiring practices and attrition.”

Barbara Talbot

BACKGROUND: Talbot, 48, has lived in the district for 22 years. She is a district manager for a division of Pfizer. Talbot has a bachelor’s degree in biology from Northeastern University and a master’s of business administration degree from the New York Institute of Technology. Talbot is a den leader in Cub Scout Troop 39 in Mattituck. She has three children who attended or are attending district schools.

ISSUES: Talbot said, “The most important issue facing my district is the decline in student enrollment.” She said that “a complete review of our school district is needed to determine what changes may or may not need to be made.” If elected, she said, she would urge that the district put a plan in place to manage the enrollment decline. She also said she would advocate both for tax cuts and “the implementation of additional enrichment programs for all students.”

Tonya Kaiser-Witczak

BACKGROUND: Kaiser-Witczak, 41, has lived in the district for 13 years. She said she is a homemaker, and has an associate degree in special events recreation management from Johnson & Wales University. She volunteers for two local Girls Scout troops, and is a member of the Ladies Auxiliary of the United Fire Company of Cutchogue. Kaiser-Witczak is the co-president of the district’s special education PTA. She has two children attending district schools.

ISSUES: Kaiser-Witczak said that she is seeking a seat on the school board to be a voice for the district’s elementary school children. “With our lowering student population, I don’t want the elementary kids to get shortchanged,” she said. “With class sizes going down, things could get cut.” She added: “We have amazing teachers and support staff, and it would be a terrible loss to see them forced to leave to other districts because we do not have the needed enrollment.”

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