Islip set to vote on budget
ISLIP—On Tuesday, May 15, residents will head to the polls to cast their votes on the 2018-2019 proposed school district budget. The spending plan calls for a tax levy increase of 1.66 percent, which is at the allowable tax levy limit. The proposed budget totaling $83,956,103 is an increase of 1.84 percent over last year.
The polls will be open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. in the high school’s gymnasium.
Along with voting on the proposed budget for 2018-2019, Islip residents will have the opportunity to cast their votes for three candidates for three-year term seats on the board of education.
The candidates are: incumbent Tom Leggio, who is running unopposed, and Paul J. Austin, who is running unopposed for the seat currently occupied by Mary Ann Coughlin, who is not seeking reelection. Matthew Kriss and Eric Buehler are running for the seat now occupied by Brian Clock, who is also retiring from the board.
The candidate Paul Austin, a 39-year resident of the hamlet, is running unopposed. The retired beverage distributor and supermarket manager and his wife have two daughters that have gone through the school district; one daughter is still a student at the high school.
“I’ve been very involved in the schools, and have been attending board meetings for the past 10 years,” Austin said. He noted that some of the school events he has been involved in include PTAs, working with the Post Prom Committee and serving on the district’s Legislative Committee.
Austin said one of the issues he’d work towards as a board member is to bring in more funding. He said he wants to make sure Islip no longer gets “short-changed” as it has in the past.
“I know a lot that’s going on,” he said, adding that for the most part he’s very satisfied with the district. “Islip is a very good school district. I’d like to make sure it continues on that path.”
A lifelong resident of Islip hamlet, Eric Buehler graduated with the Class of 1996. He is married and has one daughter that is a student in the district.
Buehler said he’s interested in being a school board trustee because “it’s something I’ve always wanted to do and this is the ideal time to do it,” he remarked.
The candidate is currently employed as a funeral director for Overton Funeral Home in Islip. He’s a member of a number of community-minded organizations and has received honors for his volunteer service, among them: Rotarian of the Year for his involvement and as past president for Islip Rotary; a Pride of Islip Alumni Award; and Suffolk County Volunteer of the Year for the 10th Legislative District.
He is the past president of the Islip Chamber of Commerce; a board member at Northwell Health Southside Hospital; on the board of the Town of Islip Economic Development Commission; and he
is currently also a commissioner with the Islip Fire Department, a position that ends in December of this year.
Buehler said if elected, he’d lobby in Albany to garner more funding for the district. He’s been very satisfied with Islip Schools, noting, “I think we have great educators and great programs here.”
A 2009 alumnus of Islip High School, Matthew Kriss is hoping to return to his alma mater in another capacity. He said he saw an opportunity to serve on the board and decided to go for it. “I had a tremendous experience [as a student] in Islip, and now I’d like to have a voice on the board.”
Kriss graduated from Iona College with a degree in business in 2013, and then spent the next year and a half working as the manager of a retail store. “I needed a change,” he remarked, adding that’s when he took a job as a teacher assistant at a school for special ed students in Queens. “I fell in love with the kids,” he said. He got his teaching certification last year and began earning his master’s in special education from Touro College that will be completed this August.
Kriss said he’d like to see more invested in technology. He believes technology helps prepare students for life outside of the district.
He noted that one of the issues the Islip School Board will be facing in the coming years is the decline in student enrollment. He said the district lost 15 percent of its enrollment since 2010. As a board member, Kriss said he’d work with the board to continue being fiscally responsible, balancing spending without cutting any of the important programs in the district.
“We have to be wise when investing for the future,” he said.
A longtime resident of the hamlet, Tom Leggio and his wife have raised three children in the district. He is a well-known volunteer and has served a number of terms on the board. He volunteers for many organizations and is an active member of the Islip Fire Department, where he has served as commissioner. He is also a recipient of the Islip Schools Pride in Community Award.
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