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Long IslandNassau

Lawrence school district


7 a.m. to 10 p.m. at Number Two School, Inwood; Lawrence Middle School, Lawrence; Lawrence High School, Cedarhurst; and Atlantic Beach Village Hall.


The district proposes a $98,563,486 budget for 2015-16, a 3.08 percent increase from the current $95,615,672. The local tax levy would rise 1.5 percent, from $83,748,426 to $85,004,652. This increase is less than the state's tax-cap limit of 1.62 percent, so a simple majority vote will be required to approve the budget. School taxes on the average single-family home would increase 3.7 percent, from $5,458 to $5,662.

There would be no reductions in teachers or other staff and there would be step increases in the existing contracts. New contracts are being negotiated.

The proposal would add new programs, 3-D printing and bilingual education from K-12.

District website:


Incumbent Abel Feldhamer is being challenged by Matthew Russo and Heshy Blachorsky and Asher Matathias are running for the seat of Uri Kaufman, who is not seeking re-election. Terms are three years. Feldhamer and Blachorsky are running as a team.

Abel FeldhamerBACKGROUND: Feldhamer, 37, is an attorney who has been on the board since 2009 and served as vice president from 2012 to 2013. He is running with Heshy Blachorsky. Feldhamer earned a bachelor of science degree in finance from Touro College and his law degree from Fordham University. He has lived in the district for 12 years and has four school-age children. A kindergartner and seventh-grader attend Yeshiva Ketana in Inwood and a fifth-grader and seventh-grader attend Bnos Bais Yaakov school in Far Rockaway.

ISSUES: Feldhamer said the biggest issue facing the district is meeting state mandates under budget constraints. "On the one hand we must work hard to maintain existing programs. At the same time, we must also look for every opportunity to be ahead of the curve in order to meet the diverse and evolving needs of all of our students and ensure that every student is best prepared for the future."

Matthew RussoBACKGROUND: Matthew Russo, 41, works in the Nassau County tax assessor's department and is owner of Event Services Amusement Co., a party-supply business. He is a graduate of Lawrence High School. He has lived in the district 20 years and has two children. One is in prekindergarten at Number 4 School in Inwood and the other is in the second grade at Number 5 School in Cedarhurst. Russo is a member of the Number 5 School PTA. This is his first run for the school board.

ISSUES: Russo said the consolidation and subsequent sale of district school buildings is the primary issue facing the district. "Since 2006, the current board has closed three schools," he said. "If elected, I will make sure that newly vacated school facilities are not sold and I would create significant revenue streams for the district by leasing to a nonprofit community organization, and I will prevent any building from housing a charter school, which I vehemently oppose." He said the board also needs someone like himself with children who attend district schools. "Nobody has kids enrolled in the district and I could be an advocate for people with children going to school in the district -- I also have a child with special needs."

Heshy BlachorskyBACKGROUND: Heshy Blachorsky, 39, is the chief risk officer for a mortgage bank in Manhattan. He has a bachelor of arts degree in political science from Brooklyn College. He had lived in the district for 11 years and has three school-age children. One is in the seventh grade at Yeshiva Ketana in Inwood. A fourth-grader and a second-grader attend Torah Academy for Girls in Far Rockaway. He is running with Abel Feldhamer. This is his first run for the school board.

ISSUES: Blachorsky said the main issue facing the district is ensuring that all students receive the resources and services they are entitled to. "The demographics and face of the district continues to rapidly change every year," he said. "The changes represent new challenges that we will have to meet. Bringing about necessary changes would be to modify and adjust our programs to accommodate the changing demographic and keep pace with the community's respective needs." Blachorsky said, "The budget makers have to be fiscally responsible without trimming things that are necessary and we have to make funds available for these programs without increasing taxes."

Asher MatathiasBACKGROUND: Matathias, 71, is an assistant political science professor at St. John's University. He has a bachelor of arts degree in political science from Long Island University and a master's degree in political science from the New School for Social Research in Manhattan. He has lived in the district for 39 years and since 1983 has been president of Long Island Lodge B'nai B'rith. His three daughters are graduates of Lawrence High School. This is his first run for the school board.

ISSUES: Matathias said a lack of trust by the school board in the selection of better candidates for district staff is at the top of his long list of issues. "There is a lack of trust and bullying," he said, referring to the board. "People are not encouraged to participate in the proceedings." He supports better transparency and open discussions. The district is on the decline, he said, so the members tend to be more defensive. "But that's the time to be most open."


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