With two seats on the Massapequa Board of Education up for election this year, Gary Bennett and Carl Hoops, the two candidates challenging incumbent board members, are trying to make the case for changing the makeup of the current board.
At a recent rally at Marjorie Post Park, they maintained that school taxes in the district are getting outrageous, and the current board is doing nothing about it. Hoops and Bennett are going up against current board members Christine Lupetin Perrino and Jane Ryan.
“In the worst economic times [the school board] is not acting,” Hoops said. “They’re giving away money that the community doesn’t have, and just look around, we’re hurting.” Hoops said.
He also pointed out that the bottom of the tax bills residents receive reads, “The Board of Education in each school district is the responsible body for school affairs over which the Town of Oyster Bay has no control.”
Dozens of people were on hand inside a meeting room for the 90 minute program. In addition to speaking, the candidates answered questions ranging from ‘How many school board members are there? to What they would do to lower administrative salaries?’
Bennett said he has plans to rectify the yearly budget increases, but did not go into details.
“I know what I want to do. I know how I’ll do it. And I think everyone will benefit,” he said. said.
The candidates also spoke out against the salaries of administrators, which they think are too high and accused the board of following the lead of administrators on policy issues rather than telling the board what they should do.
Hoops plans on changing that if he and Bennett are elected.
“If I am elected to that board, I work for the community and the children of the school district,” he said. “I will not be intimidated. I will not allow the administration to run me.”
Victor DeLuca, 63, said he attended the rally because he wants to see yearly increases in school taxes come to an end during these rough economic times.
“School taxes are going up every year, and no matter how bad the economy is it doesn’t seem to effect what happens with the school budget,” he said. “They always look for an increase [in pay] every year and if they don’t get an increase they threaten the parents of the school children by saying that they’ll take away the sports programs.”
Bennett also blasted the board for voting down an expansion of athletic programs a few years ago while later giving raises to four superintendents..
“They said no to that, but [said yes] to $57,000 in a single year for four superintendents. That’s outrageous and despicable,” he said.
The election for the board seats will be held on May 17, as will the vote for the school budget.