At least three newcomers will be elected to school boards in Riverhead and Shoreham-Wading River this year.
Riverhead board member Kim Ligon, who has served since 2011, is not seeking re-election and her seat is up for grabs, as are those of incumbents Chris Dorr of Baiting Hollow and Greg Meyer of Calverton.
Mr. Meyer, a Riverhead native who works as a firefighter and EMT at Brookhaven National Laboratory, has served since 2008. Mr. Dorr, a data support and grant writer for the South Country Central School District, was first elected in 2013.
Both are seeking new three-year terms. They will face challengers Greg Fischer, Yolanda Thompson and Therese Zuhoski.
Ms. Thompson is a critic of Common Core and a school board watchdog who attends meetings regularly and advocates for greater transparency between the district and community. An Aquebogue resident, she has two children who attend school in the district.
Ms. Thompson said she wants to serve in order to learn more about the board’s functions and believes that her background in banking, finance and accounting would benefit the district.
In addition, she described herself as a special education advocate who has knowledge of education procedures and law.
“I feel I have good, workable ideas on how to improve some things and I have a skill set that will allow me to bring those ideas to fulfillment,” she said in an email. “As an advocate, I work to bring parties to agreement, which involves resolving conflicts in a professional manner.”
Ms. Zuhoski, of Riverhead, has been involved with the district’s PTOs for several years and is currently president for the Pulaski Street School, middle school and high school groups. She’s decided to run for school board to expand her volunteerism to improve the district and because she now has time to serve, as her four sons, who attend district schools, have gotten older.
Ms. Zuhoski also believes her background in psychology and experience working in human relations would benefit the Board of Education.
“Everything I do is for the students, schools and community,” she said. “I’d like to bridge the gap between the community and schools. It’s what I hope to accomplish.”
Mr. Fischer is a strategic business consultant who has run unsuccessfully for multiples offices in the past few years. This is his fourth consecutive run for school board. The Calverton resident has two children who attend school in the district.
Mr. Fischer said he wants to serve on the Board of Education because he believes the district’s current spending trend continues to outpace the area’s median income level. He would also like to see more transparency with board meetings.
“I will be completely unforgiving about their lack of improvement of the quality and cost of education,” he said when asked how his approach to this year’s election will differ from previous years. “I’ll run until people listen.”
Riverhead Central Faculty Association president Lisa Goulding said Wednesday afternoon that the teacher’s union has endorsed Mr. Dorr, Mr. Meyer and Ms. Zuhoski. She said the two incumbents have maintained or built programs and facilities while adhering to the state tax cap. She said Mr. Zuhoski’s track record as an advocate for children in Riverhead schools “speaks for itself.”
“All three candidates are team oriented and student-centric, which are two qualities we cannot live without on Riverhead’s BOE,” Ms. Goulding said in an email.
In Shoreham-Wading River, seven people are competing for four seats on the Board of Education. The candidate with the fourth most votes will serve out the final year of former board member Michael Fucito’s unexpired term.
SWR school board member Bill McGrath, who has served since 2008, decided not to seek re-election.
“I’ve been on district committees and on the board the last nine years; committees since the ’90s,” he said in an interview Tuesday. “I intend to stay on the committees. I just need a break from the general Board of Education commitment. I just don’t have that time and energy at the moment.”
Also up for grabs are the seats of incumbents Jack Costas and John Zukowski. Mr. Costas was first elected in 2008; Mr. Zukowski has served since 2011.
They will face challengers Katie Anderson, Erin Hunt, Henry Perez, James Smith and Michael Yannucci.
Budget votes and Board of Education elections in both districts are set for Tuesday, May 16.
Additional reporting by Kelly Zegers
Editor’s note: This story was updated Wednesday to reflect how it will appear in this week’s paper.