Two of the candidates touted their experience as businessmen, one described himself as a "geek in the flesh" another is a longtime PTA activist and the fifth candidate is a numbers experts.
The five candidates for two open seats on the Massapequa School Board come from varying backgrounds, but they all believe they're the right person for the job.
All were on hand to participate in a meet the candidates night at Massapequa High School. The event was sponsored by the Massapequa Council of PTAs.
There will be at least one new board member following the May 15 election, with the retirement of Thomas Caltabiano.
That left Board President Maryanne Fisher as the lone incumbent onstage.
Fisher, who's spent 16 years as a PTA activist and has served on the Board since 2003, stood by her record and the record of the current board.
She defended the district's decision to eliminate 29 teaching positions saying, the decision was made "because of class size, and enrollment and retirement."
Fisher also argued that the district is being hurt by the new state tax cap because it doesn't come with relief for things like rising pension costs. She also called for more state aid, a position that drew some fire from one of her opponents, Dianne Sheffield.
"We need to deal with the task at hand, and not whine about what our fair share is," said Sheffield, an accountant claims auditor, who has worked with both the Massapequa and Plainview School Districts. "It is what it is and we have to deal with it."
But Fisher fired back, "Long Island gives a ton of money to Albany and we receive very little back. We have one of the most successful school districts in New York state and on Long Island" Pointing out that the average home values in Massapequa have been skyrocketing, Fisher added,"So yeah, I'm going to keep whining."
Sheffield, who along with fellow candidate Joseph Marsh have been endorsed by the Massapequa Committee for Educational Responsibility, also sparred with Fisher for promoting her decision to ask the board to take another look at administrative cuts before the budget was adopted. The request resulted in the elimination of one final position.
"If that administrator who was cut on the last day before adopting the budget was not needed either for programs or the children's safety, then I have to ask the logical question, why were they needed at all?" Sheffield said.
Sheffield and Marsh, who called himself "a geek in the flesh" in his closing statement, both argued that school officials need to be more transparent.
"What I see in the district is very much a disconnect," he said.
Marsh said the district should strive to be better rather than tout past achievements and listen more to the public.
"It's a disgrace that parents and taxpayers and members of the community have voices that aren't being heard," he said. "They have concerns and ideas that simply aren't being acted on."
Joseph La Bella, a successful small business owner said that the district needs somebody with his background.
When asked how he'd decide what cuts to make if he had to, he replied, "In business participation and results are what drives what we do. When it comes to programs and what's going on in the district, I would base my decisions on those two factors."
One issue that La Bella was concerned about were teacher evaluations. He said that he doesn't believe in making evaluations public saying, " You praise in public and you criticize in private. I believe in that."
Ricard Carozza has run plumbing, construction, insurance and real estate businesses.
"I have a masters [degree] in Public administration which deals with solving problems," he said. "I feel with all these experiences, I could give the board a different look than what they've had over the last few years."
Carozza is also looking to find ways to cut wasteful spending in the district.