Birchwood Endorses Candidates

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Daborah Lee

The Birchwood Civic Association endorsed three candidates running in the contested Syosset School Board election and two candidates running unopposed in the Jericho election at its meeting at Jackson Elementary school on April 28.

The BCA endorsed Syosset incumbents Chris DeFillippo and Josh Lafrazan and newcomer Bill Weiner for the Syosset Board. The BCA also endorsed Jericho Board incumbent Bill Ferro and first time candidate Daborah Lee, both of whom are running unopposed.

In an unusual presentation, Josh Lafrazan, who is currently a student at Cornell University in Ithaca, did not appear at the BCA meeting, but sent a letter advocating his re-election to a second term. Lafrazan said he was unable to attend the meeting because of college demands. Lafrazan made local and Island-wide history three years ago when, at the age of 18, he was elected to the board, becoming the youngest board member in New York State. A vocal critic of the former Syosset superintendent and the closed nature of Syosset School Board meetings, he spearheaded major changes in the district. This year, he announced he is supporting two other candidates in the School Board election—Seth Hart and Andrew Feldman.

In addition to Lafrazan the BCA endorsed Bill Weiner, a long-time active member of civic and school district groups, and Chris DeFillippo, who has been serving on the Board for three years. Weiner made an unsuccessful race for the board last year. The sixth candidate competing for one of the three board slots is Dale Predmore.

For the Jericho Board, the BCA endorsed incumbent Ferro, the board president, and newcomer Lee, who is running unopposed and who Ferro stated he too was endorsing.

Lee, who lives in the Hamlet, is the mother of an eighth-grader in Jericho, where she has lived for nine years. She grew up in Hong Kong was an exchange student in Texas, where she learned English. She is a veteran flight attendant for United Airlines and said in an interview that because of her seniority, she is able to work her flying schedule around school activities and meetings. Lee has been active in community and school groups for the years her son has been attending Jericho schools. As the first Asian-American on the Jericho School Board, and one of the few in Nassau County, Lee said she wants to reach out to the growing Asian community in Jericho and encourage them to play a more active role in school and community affairs.

“In China,” Lee said, “there is a saying that ‘You sweep in front of your own house.’ In other words, keep to yourself, mind your own business. But here in America, new immigrants need to understand that participation in community affairs, for the good of the entire community, is a worthy behavior.”

“The schools and the community,” she said, “will become stronger and maintain its outstanding reputation if everybody works together for the common good.”

In addition to the School Board candidates, Jericho School Superintendent Hank Grishman and Syosset Superintendent Dr. Thomas Rogers gave brief presentations on the upcoming year’s school budget proposal.

Rogers, serving his first year in the role previously held by Carole Hankin, who retired, said the new budget calls for a 1.56 percent tax increase and a tax levy increase of 0.91. The budget increase is 1.34 percent.

Rogers said funds were being earmarked for a security audit of all Syosset school district facilities, and for a technology upgrade. He said funds were also being allocated for the hiring of a part-time substance abuse counselor, a social worker and a professional development specialist.

Jericho Superintendent Grishman made a brief presentation about the proposed Jericho budget. The budget allows for a 1.35 percent increase in expenditures and a 1.61 percent increase in the tax levy.

The election and budget vote will be on Tuesday, May 19.

 

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