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Long IslandEducation

Shelter Island


Noon to 9 p.m. Tuesday at Shelter Island School.


The district proposes an $11,327,228 budget for 2017-18, a 3.29 percent increase from the current $10,966,854. The tax levy would increase 1.31 percent, from $10,000,816 to $10,131,788.

This increase is equal to the district’s tax-cap limit, so a simple majority vote will be required to approve the budget.

School taxes on the average single-family home would increase 1.37 percent, from $2,490 to $2,524.

The proposed budget includes a 2 percent salary increase along with a half-step increase for teachers.

A proposition asks voters whether the district’s mileage limit for transporting pupils to a nonpublic school should be increased from 15 to 16.5 miles, to provide transportation to Our Lady of the Hamptons School in Southampton. Students are transported now to two other private schools within the 15-mile limit, Ross School and Hayground School. The cost, including ferry service, is estimated at $68,908 for the 2017-18 year.


Incumbents Alfred Brigham Sr., Linda C. Eklund and Elizabeth Melichar and candidate Tracy McCarthy are seeking three at-large seats. Terms are three years.

Alfred Brigham Sr.

BACKGROUND: Brigham, 44, a high school science teacher in the Hampton Bays district, has lived in the district 33 years. His wife and brother are employed by the district. He earned his bachelor’s degree at SUNY Oneonta and his master’s degree in secondary special education at LIU Southampton. He is a member of the Shelter Island Lions Club, and on the liaison, grievance and negotiations committees at Hampton Bays High School, as well as science club adviser there. He has three children attending Shelter Island School, and he has been on the school board since 2010.

ISSUES: Year-to-year enrollment fluctuations can affect a small school district like Shelter Island, Brigham said, so in an effort to increase enrollment the district is working to add courses and improve programs at the pre-K and elementary levels by adding more after-school activities. “We’re working to bring some people back, offering some new courses,” he said. “We want to offer programs and increase enrollment.”

Linda C. Eklund

BACKGROUND: Eklund, who has lived in the district 44 years, owns and operates the Ram’s Head Inn. She declined to give her age and listed her educational background as “more than enough.” Her daughter is a teacher in the district. She is on the board of the Island Gift of Life Foundation, the Shelter Island Chamber of Commerce and is retired from the board of the Whitehead Light Station Foundation in Maine. Her three children graduated from the district. She is seeking her fourth term on the board.

ISSUES: Finding a strong superintendent to push the district to the next level is key, Eklund said, adding that she favors finding one who will provide stability along with a solid educational plan. “We need to continue to offer students a strong education and make sure that they’re prepared while, being a small school, still offering experiences like going into New York City and assisting them with what interests them,” she said. She said she supports exploring adding distance learning and expanding the mentoring program to offer a variety of learning options.

Tracy McCarthy

BACKGROUND: McCarthy, 45, has lived in the district for six years. She is the owner of a company that publishes a series of community and visitor guides and magazines. She earned a bachelor’s degree at the University of Vermont and a master of business administration from the University of Connecticut. She is vice chairperson of the Shelter Island Friends of the Library. Her child attends school in the district.

ISSUES: Turnover in the superintendent position and lack of leadership are the most important issues facing the district, she said, so finding and retaining a strong leader is key. “One person can make a big difference,” she said. She said she would help develop a short-term as well as a long-term strategy for the district, including setting goals for students, staff and the physical building, as well as a plan to develop the elementary school program. Better after-school programs are important, McCarthy said, and they can be developed by combining resources with town and community groups.

Elizabeth Melichar

BACKGROUND: Melichar, 58, has lived in the district 13 years and is an educational administrator for student support services at Eastern Suffolk BOCES. She has an associate degree from Nassau Community College; a bachelor’s degree from LIU Post, a master’s degree in special education from LIU Post, and a master’s degree in educational administration from the College of New Rochelle. She has received several professional awards, including a 2017 leadership award from the Suffolk County Legislature for outstanding leadership for special-needs students. Her son and stepchildren graduated from the district. She is seeking her third term on the board.

ISSUES: Keeping educational standards high in light of budget constraints and small enrollment are special challenges for the district, Melichar said. Offering full-day prekindergarten to attract parents is one way, she said, and offering a full-day summer camp in partnership with the town of Shelter Island also helps. “Once they see what we offer, they won’t want to leave,” she said. “The current state of education here is strong, and we need to effectively communicate that.” She said she also wants to find a way to deal with the shortage of qualified substitute teachers given the commuting issues and substitute pay rate.

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