Good Evening
Good Evening
Long IslandEducation

South Country school district


7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday at Bellport Middle School.


The district proposes a $126,296,440 budget for 2016-17, a 2.21 percent increase from the current $123,565,275. The tax levy would increase by 0.82 percent, from $57,381,312 to $57,852,321.

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 by 0.82 percent, from $5,772 to $5,819.33.

The proposed budget includes salary raises of 1.5 percent — 0.5 percent under the contract and a 1 percent step increase for teachers. It also adds 10.9 positions — 8.9 teaching positions and two staff positions — and introduces busing for the prekindergarten program. It includes funds to support a transportation limit change from one mile to a half-mile for grades 4 and 5.

Residents also will vote on two propositions. One would establish a $10 million reserve fund for districtwide capital improvements. The other proposition asks voters to determine if the size of the school board should be reduced from nine to seven members.

  • District website:


Incumbent Carol Herrmann and candidates Gino Cruz, Cheryl Felice, Brian Gilligan, Anthony Griffin and Cameron Trent are running for three at-large seats. Terms are three years.

Gino Cruz

BACKGROUND: Cruz, 48, works as a maintenance mechanic for the North Patchogue Fire Department. He has a bachelor’s degree in physical education and health from Almeda University. He is a former public school coach, founded the annual South Country Easter Egg Hunt and was former coordinator for the Clipper Classic. Two of his children have graduated from district schools and one is attending a district school.

ISSUES: Cruz said he wants to create an environment that fosters education, and would use his experience within the Latino community to help make the district as inclusive as possible. “My parents were first-generation and I understand some families are afraid to come in and plead their case,” he said. “I would like to serve as a bridge.”

Cheryl Felice

BACKGROUND: Felice, 59, is a benefits administrator. She has an associate degree in criminal justice from Suffolk County Community College, and a bachelor’s degree in organizational management and a master of business administration from St. Joseph’s College. She is active in a number of local professional and civic organizations, and is a director of the Patchogue Lioness Lions Club.

ISSUES: “I am a lifelong resident of Suffolk who is dedicated to the community organizations I commit to,” she said. Felice said she considers serving on the school board a way to give back to the community. She said her work administering health benefits has given her experience working with both labor and management and would help her achieve solutions in the district.

Brian Gilligan

BACKGROUND: Gilligan, 18, is a college student in a combined program at Stony Brook University and Suffolk County Community College, where he is studying computer science and mathematics. He also works at Sky Zone Mount Sinai, a trampoline park. He was an Eagle Scout and a member of the Boy Scouts of America Suffolk County Council’s executive board.

ISSUES: Gilligan said he would like to see more technology courses and resources offered at the district. If elected, he said he would work to find room in the budget to make that happen. He said he also would work to make the Common Core opt-out program more accessible.

Anthony Griffin

Griffin declined a request for an interview.

Carol Herrmann

BACKGROUND: Herrmann, 38, is a social studies teacher at Sachem High School East. She has a bachelor’s degree in history from Lycoming College in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, and a master’s degree in secondary education from Dowling College. She is on the PTA Council and is a youth soccer coach in Bellport. She has three children in district schools. She is seeking her second term on the board, where she now serves as vice president.

ISSUES: Herrmann said she would work to communicate positive messages about the district and continue to implement goals from the action plan that were set out three years ago. “We are doing well with our budget,” she said. “In a diverse community it can be difficult to get everyone on the same page, and I will work to do that. I’ve done a good job over the last three years and want to continue that.” She said she combines the perspectives of parents, educators and teachers, and would use that to benefit the community.

Cameron Trent

BACKGROUND: Trent, 18, is a student at Suffolk County Community College studying business administration. He is chief executive of Dirty Devils, a uniform cleaning company he started. He was a member of the Keystone Club at the Boys and Girls Club of the Bellport Area.

ISSUES: Trent said he would work to increase parent involvement in the schools through outreach programs, and would listen to what the community believes are problems. He advocates adding a counselor who would work with families from prekindergarten through graduation to help link parents to the school. “This connects the child’s parents with the school on multiple levels,” he said. “Forming and growing these connections is something that I’m extremely passionate about.”

Latest Long Island News