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Update: Five Vie For Seats on Massapequa School Board

Board will elect new member next month with retirement of Thomas Caltabiano.

There Massapequa Board of Education will have a new look in the summer as there will be an open seat in next month's school board election.

There are two seats up for grabs in the May 15 contest, but only one incumbent will be on the ballot.

Current Board President Maryanne Fisher will be running for re-election but the Board's secretary, Thomas Caltabiano has decided not to run.

"Nine years is a long time," he told Patch Tuesday morning, when asked why he's stepping down. The longtime trustee said he's most proud of the role he played in getting drug sniffing dogs into the schools.

There will be a total of five candidates vying for the four seats including Fisher, who said that there are two elements she considered before deciding to run again.

"The first is can I continue to effect positive growth and improvement in the dynamic Educational Program that Massapequa Public Schools has offered its community and its students?" she said. "I know that I have the same passion for improving student achievement now as I did in 2003 when first appointed to the school board. So the answer to my first question is yes."

"Secondly, I wanted to know if I had the community's support. I believe I've been supported by the Massapequa school community for nine years and have been asked to run for a fourth term.  We've come a long way as a school district over the past several years and I hope to continue to be part of the decision making that has made Massapequa Public Schools something to be proud of."

Also on the ballot are Joseph Marsh and Dianne Sheffield, the two candidates endorsed by the Massapequa Committee for Educational and Fiscal Responsibility. The two candidates are hoping to take both seats to gain control of the board along with trustee Gary Bennett, who received MCEFR's endorsement last year before he was elected.

“Dianne and I believe that the school district budget has been increasing at an unsustainable pace, and we are tired of our programs – sports, music, art, etc. – being held hostage to that ever-increasing budget," Marsh, who serves as MCEFR's vice chairman said. "We – the administration and the community alike – need to realize that the question isn’t ‘academics vs. athletics/art/music’, but how to provide excellence in BOTH without bankrupting the taxpayers.”

Sheffield, who serves as the group's treasurer, echoed that philosophy.

“Joseph and I believe that the school district’s administration is top-heavy, uninspired, and unresponsive to the community," she said. "We seek to change that – to streamline the administration, to re-invigorate the community and staff of the school district, and to foster open and honest communication between the district and the taxpaying community.” 

Another candidate looking to be elected to his first term is local businessman Joseph LaBella.

"I'm in a good position in life right now. I own my own business and I have the flexibility of time to dedicate to it," he said of his decision to run. "What actually prompted me was when I heard about the layoffs. In business, and I've been doing this for 30 years, when people are laying people off, it's usually a failure on someone's part and I felt that maybe my expertise could be useful."

LaBella said he has three children who graduated from the district.

The fifth candidate, Richard Carozza, is a businessman and member of the Massapequa Chamber of Commerce and Sons of Italy.

His campaign released a statement saying, "he believes that Massapequa School District must contain costs, and he believes that the district needs to spend the funds it has more wisely. He is interested in applying his extensive business acumen and education to improved planning for the short- and long-term for Massapequa School District and its children.

"Carozza is committed to cutting excessive administrator salaries and positions, cutting unnecessary waste by centralizing purchasing and stopping the duplication of work functions and practices.  He believes in rewarding quality educators with merit raises and job retention.  Carozza wants to hold school administrators accountable to the tax payers by instituting fiscal discipline with zero-based budgeting.

Mass Parent April 29, 2012 at 08:44 PM
YES, I absolutely meant Pequa5 - sorry about that!
Mrs. O April 29, 2012 at 10:00 PM
I would think that a board trustee would have to remain as objective and not endorse anyone.
Mr. Russo April 30, 2012 at 05:12 AM
Mr. Labella should not be disqualified from a Board appointment simply because his son works within the district. Perhaps if he was already on the board, alternative measures would have been considered before deciding that laying off 30 teachers was a starting point for budget adjustments. And as far as the district's failure to pay its debts to a local contractor and community member for his services, is anyone surprised? Legal charges are free, as far as the district is concerned...because lawsuits are largely "confidential" and don't appear in the visible budget...so why not just add the bill to all of the other hidden costs the public never gets to see? Would anyone know about the non-payment issue if this gentleman wasn't forced to mention it in a public forum? Where there's smoke, there's fire. If that's how the district does business with a community member, I can only guess what unseen costs are being swept under that giant rug that's thrown out the back door. I bet this lack of intuition and ethics is a big reason why the better administrators flee the district as quickly as they can.
MHS4Joe May 10, 2012 at 11:04 PM
Joe LaBella is Massapequa. Resident for over 30+ years. Three successful children whom graduated from MHS. Joe LaBella and his two sons reside in Massapequa, and now his children plan to raise their families in the same town that they grew up in because of the strong family value structure of the village. When I was growing up in that town it provided me with a great childhood, and education. He is the man who will do what is right by others, and for the town. Joe LaBella understands the importance of education, and how great Massapequa's school system is when educating the youth of the future. The job is bigger than any one reason for running, and that is why "Big Joe" is the candidate for the position.
tony May 15, 2012 at 01:29 AM
To the best of my knowledge the other candidates may also hae relatives working in the district Mr Taylor also has a relative working in the District.

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