Douglas Pascarella, the only candidate on the ballot in the...

Douglas Pascarella, the only candidate on the ballot in the Plainedge school district running for the board of education, stands in the Nassau County Executive Building. (April 12, 2010) Credit: J. Conrad Williams Jr.

The Plainedge school system has two Board of Education trustee seats open in Tuesday's elections.

But in an active district where parent volunteers are honored and student achievements touted, just one candidate has registered to run. There is no one else on the ballot.

"I think it's a little bit of apathy," said Douglas Pascarella, the lone candidate. "At the meetings, we have fewer and fewer people."

Plainedge is one of two Long Island districts with more seats than candidates. The other, Fishers Island, is a pre-K-12 district on a mostly summer resort island located more than 10 miles off the tip of Long Island. It has 68 students, including half who commute from Connecticut by ferry, according to school officials.

Plainedge, on the other hand, is in central Nassau County, has a student population of 3,433 and a proposed budget of $76,495,500 for the upcoming school year.

Islandwide, it's an active year for school board races with 25 percent more people running in contested races than last year. Lorraine Deller, executive director of the Nassau-Suffolk School Boards Association, said the organization has tracked at-large seats and the number of people running over the past five years, and found just under 50 percent of the seats up for a vote attract challengers.

Either "people are satisfied with the board that is in place at that given moment or with the board person whose seat is up," she said. "Or there is a great reluctance to commit one's time, reputation and energies to what is becoming an increasingly demanding and frustrating job."

In Plainedge, trustee Nancy Giris said she decided not to seek re-election after serving one full three-year term "to pursue other community-based advocacy positions and to continue to serve the school district in that way."

There are seven members of the board. Superintendent Christine P'Simer said she expects the open seat to be filled by a write-in candidate.

At least two people have come forward as write-in candidates.

Parent Anne Weeks, 51, ran for the board last year, but was not elected. She planned to kick off her campaign over the weekend, at a budget awareness fair in Plainedge.

"I hadn't planned to run again, but nobody stepped up, so I decided to step up," she said. "I'm running so that I can help Plainedge through difficult economic times to maintain and improve the programs provided to the children and I think it's important to balance costs with quality."

Parent Debra Grieci, 43, the other write-in candidate, also planned to campaign last weekend.

"I want to continue to look at long-term solutions to stabilize the tax levy," she said. "I want to hold the administration accountable for student outcomes and also I am interested in what is going on at the school level, especially making sure our schools are safe."

In Fishers Island, Sara McLean is not seeking re-election. Superintendent Charles E. Meyers said he had not heard of anyone actively campaigning, but he expects that the open seat on the five-member board will be filled by a write-in candidate.

On Fishers Island, "There doesn't seem to be a shortage of good ideas, but sometimes a shortage of people to go around," he said.

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