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Long IslandSuffolk

Connetquot school district


8 a.m. to 9 p.m. at Ronkonkoma Middle School, Connetquot High School and Oakdale-Bohemia Middle School.


The district is proposing a $180,169,133 budget for 2015-16, a 1.45 percent from the current $177,593,052. The local tax levy would increase 1.25 percent, from $119,235,138 to $120,725,577.

The increase falls within the state's tax cap of 1.63 percent, so a simple majority is required to approve the budget. School taxes on the average single-family home would increase 1.25 percent, from $8,777 to $8,887.

The district reports the proposed budget provides for "all employee salary adjustments in accordance with existing contractual agreements" and includes a 2.4 percent pay increase for teachers including step increases. The budget includes 5.6 more full-time staff for increased elementary math support as well as for career technical education and to serve increased bilingual needs.

District website:


Incumbent Leo R. Marinick is being challenged by Craig Amarando; candidates Raymond Carta, Nicholas Ferraioli and Charles J. Keeling Jr. are seeking the seat of Kim Pepe, who is not seeking re-election. Terms are three years. Amarando and Ferraioli are running as a team.

Leo R. Marinick

BACKGROUND: Marinick, 54, is a retired New York City police officer who has lived in the district for 41 years. He and his wife, Frances, have four children who are enrolled in the district. He has served on the board of education since 2012. He is the board's vice president and serves on several districtwide board committees and is a member of all three civic organizations in the Connetquot district.

ISSUES: The top issue facing the district seems to be the confusion concerning Common Core and the testing that is basically led by the state. Marinick said he is not a Common Core supporter for many reasons. "I believe when it comes to the test, every parent has the right to decide what their child does in school," he said. As a board member, he plans to continue to lobby the state to change the curriculum and the tests associated with it.

Craig Amarando

BACKGROUND: Amarando, 42, is a teacher in the West Babylon school district and a lifelong district resident. A graduate of Connetquot High School, he earned a bachelor's degree from East Stroudsburg University and a master's degree in education from Stony Brook University. He and his wife, Yvonne, have four children enrolled in the district. He has participated in several community organizations such as the Ronkonkoma Civic Association, Connetquot Youth Football, Connetquot Youth Wrestling and Connetquot Youth Baseball. He is a PTA member at Duffield Elementary School, Ronkonkoma Middle School and Connetquot High School. He is a member of a national lifeguard organization and has worked for the Town of Islip as an ocean lifeguard.

ISSUES: Education is at a turning point, he said. "The changes emanating from Washington and Albany have placed an undue burden on the students, parents and teachers and have not improved education," he said. Parents and educators must stand up and speak out against policies that adversely affect children. "As a board member, I will let your voices be heard and work hard for sensible educational policies that help our children to thrive," he said.

Raymond Carta

BACKGROUND: Carta, 48, is a vice president of services as well as the chief operating officer of DJJ Technologies. He has lived in the district 11 years and holds a bachelor's degree in management from Hofstra University. He and his wife, Laura Ann, have two children attending the district schools. He is seeking his second time on the board.

ISSUES: He said he is running "to help the district through these challenging times and restore the respectful environment that existed the last time I was president of the board." He said the district faces several issues, including a future vision for the high school, navigating the Common Core curriculum and creating a more positive environment.

Nicholas Ferraioli

BACKGROUND: Ferraioli, 42, is a sixth-grade teacher in Brentwood. He has lived in the district for 11 years and he and his wife, Grace, have two children enrolled in the local schools. He holds a bachelor's degree from St. Joseph's College and a master's degree in elementary education from LIU Post.

ISSUES: He is running for the board because "we are at a very crucial time in education and I feel the children and parents need a candidate who is on the front lines and has insight about what is going on in our schools," he said. He said he would work for more appropriate standards and less test preparation. He said his objective is to bring the best possible education to students at the lowest cost to taxpayers.

Charles J. Keeling Jr.

BACKGROUND: Keeling, 55, is a safety professional who has lived in the district for 25 years. He holds an associate degree from Suffolk County Community College and a bachelor's degree from Empire State College. He and his wife, Marie, have one son in the local schools.

ISSUES: He said he is running because he has "serious concerns about the leadership of the trustees at large as it relates to the safety and security of students." He also said that the teachers have not been adequately prepared to teach Common Core effectively and students have not received quality textbooks or materials for the curriculum. He said there needs to be more transparency by the board of education on district operations and there has been a "severe lack of accountability" by the trustees and administrators to parents and taxpayers.


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