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Sachem school district


6 a.m. to 9 p.m. at all district elementary schools.


The district proposes a $296,073,703 budget for 2015-16, a 0.64 percent increase from the current $294,199,322. The local tax levy would increase 2.24 percent, from $166,060,228 to $169,779,032. The increase matches the state's tax-cap limit of 2.24 percent, so a simple majority vote is required to approve the budget. School taxes on the average single-family home will increase 2.23 percent, from $5,645 to $5,771. Teacher raises are subject to negotiations. The budget reduces staffing by 21 positions. The budget proposes increasing elementary class sizes by one student, reducing bus transportation, and potentially changing secondary class sizes to a maximum of 32 students.

District website:


Kelli Burnham, William A. Coggin and Laura Slattery and incumbents Michael J. Isernia and Robert Scavo are vying for three at-large seats. Incumbent Douglas Duncan Jr. is not seeking re-election. Terms are three years.

Kelli BurnhamBACKGROUND: Burnham, 33, has lived in the district for 28 years and now lives in Farmingville. She's a former special-education teacher and now a stay-at-home mother. She received bachelor's degrees in general education and special education from St. Joseph's College in Patchogue, and a master's degree in literacy education from LIU Post. She's on the district budget advisory committee and is part of the Lynwood PTA executive board and the parent Lighthouse team. She has a child at Lynwood Elementary and a child in pre-K at Tecumseh Elementary. She ran for the board last year.

ISSUES: Burnham said the district's financial situation is her top priority. "We are a district that relies heavily on state aid, and we're expected to have our teachers and students do a lot more with a lot less," she said. If elected, she wants "to find additional revenue sources as well lobbying our officials in Albany to give us what we need." She also noted that she's opposed to the Common Core curriculum and the state testing teacher evaluation system.

William A. CogginBACKGROUND: Coggin, 45, of Lake Grove, has lived in the district his whole life. He's a 12th-grade Advanced Placement economics and government teacher in Roslyn. He received a bachelor's degree in political science from Stony Brook University in 1992 and a master's degree in education in 1997. He is involved in the PTA and also with local political campaigns in Brookhaven. He has served on the district's legislative committee. He has a child at Samoset Middle School and two children at Sachem High School North. He ran last year as a write-in candidate.

ISSUES: Coggin said of his priorities, "I think effectively fighting back against the Common Core curriculum is top of the list" and noted that the district's finances are a concern. He also wants to elevate the academic offerings at Sachem through "programs to move students to higher levels of learning." He said these programs, modeled after existing systems at high-achieving districts, could encourage students to "perform more highly. They encourage them and mentor them to move to the next level." He added, "The goal is for opportunity for every student at every level."

Michael J. IserniaBACKGROUND: Isernia, 52, grew up in Holtsville and lives in Lake Ronkonkoma. He is a lawyer and section manager at UL. He received a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from SUNY Maritime in 1985, an MBA from Dowling College in 1994, and a law degree from Touro Law School in 1998. He's a former Naval reserve officer and was honorably discharged with the rank of lieutenant. He has a child attending Hiawatha Elementary. He has served on the district capital projects and budget advisory committees. He was appointed to the board in 2010, elected to finish out a term in 2011 and re-elected in 2012.

ISSUES: Isernia said the district's biggest issue is its finances. "We're cash-strapped," he said. "We need to look at how to right the district in the coming years." He said declining enrollment may force the district to consider closing schools and redistricting. The board's challenge is "we want to try to get into a position where we don't have to use assets to fund day-to-day operations," he said.

Robert ScavoBACKGROUND: Scavo, 46, has lived in Holbrook his entire life. He is a culinary arts teacher at Western Suffolk BOCES. He received an associate degree in hotel and restaurant management from Johnson & Wales University in 1991 and a teaching certificate from SUNY Oswego in 1994. Scavo is a member of the district's budget advisory committee. He has a child at Sachem High School East and two children at Tamarac Elementary School. He was elected to the board in 2006, served as president from 2010 to 2014, and is the current vice president of the board.

ISSUES: Scavo said the district needs restored state aid after having to use reserve funding in the past several years. "The state aid funding is making it impossible for us to continue our education programs," he said. The district is also grappling with Common Core and facing declining enrollment, "so one of the biggest challenges is the possibilities of school closures next year," Scavo said. The board already has started working on saving money through a new energy performance contract that makes district buildings more efficient, he said.

Laura SlatteryBACKGROUND: Slattery, 51, of Nesconset, has lived in the district for 43 years. She is a title insurance operations manager and received a bachelor's degree in political science from Stony Brook University in 1985. She has served on the district facilities committee and was on the executive board for the Special Education PTA.

ISSUES: Slattery said the district must deal with "our declining enrollment and how to address that issue. Being on the facilities committee, we did a whole presentation on closing schools and what we should do to be proactive," she said. "If our enrollment has significantly declined, we may have to face the inevitable and close schools, which would be the best for our community." The district's finances were also a priority. "In a district as large as ours, we need to have a plan in place to deal with our declining enrollment and learning to live within a tax cap," she said. She pledged to work for more state aid and to fight the Common Core curriculum.

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