9 a.m. to 9 p.m. at the Alfano School.
The district proposes a $197,809,201 budget for 2015-16, a 2.76 percent increase from the current $192,496,924. The local tax levy would rise 0.91 percent, from $87,943,284 to $88,740,847. This increase is within the state's tax-cap limit of 3.09 percent, so a simple majority vote is required to approve the budget.
School taxes on the average single-family home would increase 1.03 percent, from $8,400 to $8,487.47.
Teachers' salaries are frozen in 2015-16 under the terms of their negotiated contract, and a step increase of 2.72 percent is deferred until Feb. 1. The proposed budget adds eight teaching positions and would reduce the size of six elementary classes and two secondary classes.
Incumbents Fred Philips and William G. Softy face the team of Doris Dodson and Beverly Rivera for two at-large seats. Terms are three years.
Doris DodsonBACKGROUND: Dodson, 64, is a retired registered nurse who has lived in the district 39 years and served on the school board from 2012 to 2014. She holds a bachelor's degree in nursing and a master's in human resource management from Stony Brook University. She has been active in her union, the NYS Public Employees Federation, and is involved with the BrightSide Civic Association, the Coalition of Good Neighbors Civic Association, the Islip branch of the NAACP and Changeci.org Advocacy Group. Her four children all graduated from district schools.
ISSUES: Dodson said "five failing schools" and "inefficient and irresponsible fiscal management plagues the district." She said she would fight for more effective compliance with the district's comprehensive improvement plan and with its budgetary corrective action plan, in line with criticisms from the state Education Department and the state comptroller. "I would fight to enforce implementation of currently developed curriculum instead of the constant start of new programs," she said. "Charter schools are not the answer. Public school accountability is the key to success."
Beverly RiveraBACKGROUND: A retired Stony Brook University registrar, Rivera has lived in the district 23 years. A 1968 Sachem high school gradate, she received a bachelor's degree in business administration in 1986 from Empire State College. She was on the executive board of the National Conference of Puerto Rican Women and served in leadership roles on committees at Stony Brook University. A daughter graduated from the Sachem school district.
ISSUES: Running on a team with Doris Dodson, she would focus on improving the district's "five failing schools," she said. She said the state's diagnostic tools had rated the schools as "ineffective," and the district's last state Education Department report found graduation rates had dropped from 68 percent to 63 percent. She supports professional development for teachers and accountability, with timely student assessments and developmental programs. "I am certain I can make contributions to the board, having had a 34-year career at the state university level," she said, adding she'd prepare to serve on its curriculum committee, and reach out to other districts for ideas on meeting the needs of a diverse student body. "I would prefer that there be a regional plan to better prepare immigrant children academically and socially to transition into the school districts," she said.
William G. SoftyBACKGROUND: Softy, 59, has lived in the district 25 years and is a groundsman in the Connetquot school district. Two of his three children attended Central Islip schools, while his eldest graduated from Patchogue-Medford High School. A 1974 graduate of Islip High School, Softy has been involved in coaching Little League in Central Islip for many years, is a member of the Central Islip PTA and has regularly volunteered in Town of Islip Community Clean-Ups. He previously served three terms on the board.
ISSUES: Softy said his priorities are an educational agenda that "addresses the needs of all students while being sensitive to the community's ability to support these programs." The proposed budget, he said, builds upon existing programs with new initiatives while staying under the state's 2 percent tax cap. Existing programs such as remedial math and reading, and expanded elementary enrichment summer school, and proposed programs such as a Research 10 "Intel" Science Program, middle school cheerleading, JV Boys Soccer and Varsity Girls Cross Country "are imperative to place our students on a level playing field as we prepare them to be successful in an increasingly competitive global society." He said that as chair of the board of education's buildings and grounds committee, he regularly visits school facilities and grounds "to ensure they are in safe, secure condition and meet all codes." He said he spearheaded the move for full-day kindergarten and worked to increase staffing after the recession.
Fred PhilipsBACKGROUND: Philips, 73, has lived in the district 45 years and has served on the board of education for a total of 29 years. A retiree, he is now the vice president of the IAMCI Foundation, which raises funds and issues grants for children's programs, including a summer reading program at two of the district's schools, a camp for middle school wrestling teams, a math carnival and money to help defray the cost of uniforms for the soccer teams. Over the years he's been involved in district PTAs, and helped start the girls softball program for the Central Islip Little League. His four children attended district schools.
ISSUES: Philips said that one of the most important issues facing the district is "the growing student population and the lack of state funds to provide additional space and staff." He said he would "continue lobbying Albany and visiting our state legislators to provide additional financial aid. In doing so, we continue to meet our motto of 'Children our future, diversity our strength!' " As a retiree, he said, he was sensitive to the community's ability to fund school programs, and noted that the proposed budget increase was under the state's 2 percent cap on tax levy increases. He cited his record, saying he was instrumental in bringing back full-day kindergarten with door-to-door bus pickup last year, and helped implement the use of computers in the schools. He chairs monthly meetings of the community technology committee.