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Long IslandSuffolk

Harborfields school district


2 to 9 p.m. at Oldfield Middle School.


The district proposes a $80,473,955 budget for 2015-16, a 1 percent increase from the current $79,679,165. The local tax levy would increase 1.74 percent, from $60,182,958 to $61,231,280. This increase is lower than the state's tax-cap limit of 1.75 percent, so a simple majority vote will be needed to approve the budget. School taxes on the average single-family home would increase 1.77 percent, from $9,467.04 to $9,634.68.

The proposed budget includes step increases for teachers; salary negotiations are underway. The proposal also includes a staff reduction of 41/2 full-time positions due to declining enrollment, including 31/2 teachers in grades K-6 and a director of guidance in the high school. Due to new state requirements, the proposed budget calls for adding 51/2 staff members, including an ESL teacher, a psychologist, a special-education teacher, two guidance counselors in the high school and one-half librarian position.

Residents also will vote on a proposition to approve establishment of a new capital reserve fund. Voter approval would not result in a tax increase exceeding the district's cap.

District website:


Incumbents Donald W. Mastroianni and Dr. Thomas J. McDonagh Jr. are running against Christopher Kelly, Suzie Lustig and Colleen Rappa for three at-large seats. Maggie Boba resigned from her seat earlier in the year and the board chose to leave her position open until the election. Terms are three years.

Christopher Kelly

BACKGROUND: Kelly, 44, of Greenlawn, is a market data business adviser who has lived in the district 71/2 years. A 1993 graduate of The George Washington University with a degree in business administration, he has one child in the fourth grade in the district and two pre-school-aged children.

ISSUES: Helping students, parents and teachers meet Common Core standards "while at the same time providing a well-rounded and engaging educational experience" is the district's great challenge, Kelly said. He said instituting full-day kindergarten is "a must" in order to give all students the best chance at future success. The district needs to be more creative in avoiding budget cuts in areas such as technology, science and the arts. The 22 percent increase in transportation costs since 2013 "needs a hard look," he said.

Suzie Lustig

BACKGROUND: Lustig, 48, of Greenlawn, is a stay-at-home mother who graduated from Syracuse University in 1988 with a bachelor's degree in drama. A resident of the district for 22 years, she has three children, one of whom has graduated from district schools, an 11th-grader and a seventh-grader. She has been a PTA officer since 2007 and is a member of the district advisory committee, as well as the communications, rental policy and capital improvements committees.

ISSUES: As a volunteer "down in the trenches," Lustig said she understands how to fit together the "jigsaw puzzle" of federal and state mandates and budget constraints. She said the district needs a three-to-five-year overall development strategy. The district should explore other ways to raise revenue, such as grants and rentals, she said.

Donald W. Mastroianni

BACKGROUND: Mastroianni, 51, of Centerport, has been on the school board since 2006 and is its vice president. He has lived in the district 49 years. The chief financial officer and chief operating officer of a credit counseling company, he graduated in 1986 from New York University with a degree in accounting. He has three children in the high school: a senior, junior and freshman.

ISSUES: As a school board member, Mastroianni said he is most proud of engaging in "a better dialogue" with the community about budget and education issues. The state's gap elimination adjustment has meant less money for the district and poses a real challenge. The state has declared a budget surplus, and Mastroianni said Albany should restore "100 percent of the GEA they continue to reduce from our district's fair share of state aid."

Thomas J. McDonagh Jr.

BACKGROUND: McDonagh, 53, of Centerport, has been president of the school board since 2012 and has served on the board since 2008. A pediatrician, he graduated from Haverford College in 1983 and earned his medical degree from Columbia University in 1987. A resident of the district 23 years, he has three children who have graduated and another in the fourth grade in the district.

ISSUES: Evaluating a capital bond project is a high priority, along with studying the possibility of adding full-day kindergarten, McDonagh said. Tax cap legislation is a "constant challenge," he said, but he is proud that the district has been able to provide a high-quality education at a relatively low cost per student. Keeping in touch with legislators also is important, he said. "I have the leadership skills to coalesce divergent constituencies," he said.

Colleen RappaBACKGROUND: Rappa, 47, of Centerport, is a stay-at-home mother and former attorney. A 1991 graduate of St. John's University with a degree in government and politics, she earned her law degree from Hofstra University in 1994. She has five children, three of whom have graduated; one is in seventh grade and the other in fourth grade in district schools. She has been active in the PTA since 2004. She is a member of the district advisory committee and was Council PTA president from 2011-2013.

ISSUES: Rappa proposes starting a communication arts program and a film production studio for students of all cognitive abilities that could be paid for by reaching out to universities and businesses for financial and professional support. The district could rent the space and equipment as another way to generate income.


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