For the first time in several years, there is a contested race for every seat up for election on the District 13 Board of Education.
Two seats are up but just one incumbent is seeking re-election. The first spot is between Joseph DiSibio, who has served on the board for the past six years, and challenger Patrick Heaney. With Joan Gartner set to depart the board, Patty Farrell and Toni Pomerantz are competing to fill her seat.
In the first race, we endorse DiSibio. There’s a lot to like about the work he has done in his first two terms. He has served on a board that has managed to get through some very difficult financial times without having to make any major cuts to programs or staff. His financial background will make him a continued asset on the board as the pressures of the tax cap and rising pension and health insurance costs only increase.
DiSibio can also be counted on to provide strong guidance when the teachers’ contract is up next year, as he did in the last negotiation, when a deal was reached that included a one-year salary freeze to save the four Valley Steram districts money.
He is also serving on the high school board for the first time this year, and he quickly made his presence known. DiSibio brought up for discussion a controversial student parking policy, which prohibits students from taking their cars off campus during the day for lunch. Recognizing the impact this had on the surrounding neighborhoods because students have instead been parking on the side streets, especially around North High School, he sought to have this changed. Ultimately, one vote kept the policy intact, but DiSibio got the discussion going.
Heaney, running for school board for the first time, is very knowledgeable on the issues facing schools. We like the fact that he wants to see more citizens participate in the annual school budget and board vote. He would be a strong advocate for taxpayers and we hope to see his name on the ballot again.
The choice between Farrell and Pomerantz is more difficult. The two are good friends and colleagues on the District 13 Educational Foundation, a group that raises money to support the elementary schools.