15, 2002 (Posted May 16th)
Board Candidate Night
What They Said
By Stewart S
May 16, 2002
Council President, Jacci Harris, gave a warm welcome to the
Freeport School Board candidates and one hundred attendees, who
mostly came to support their candidates. Nothing earth
shattering was said and the candidates mostly agreed with each
other on most of the issues.
Rubenstein, the moderator sent from the Nassau District PTA, did
an excellent job of moderating, but her failure to take care of
the candidate seating arrangements left Douglas Clark out in
left field, alone by himself. The seating arrangement, which
should have been done alphabetically, gave the false impression
that Carmen Pineyro and Bernie Smith were running mates, which
is not the case, as is with Al Renken and Ron Ellerbe.
The candidates began the evening
with their introductions. Current Board member, Ron Ellerbe,
running for a third term, told the audience he was a retired
police officer with twenty eight years on the job and that he
worked as a special investigator for the NYS Division of Civil
Rights. Ellerbe pointed out that he attended two hundred and
fifty school board meetings.
Bernie Smith told the audience
that he was president of Freeportís North East Civic
Association and that he worked hard to save Freeportís public
swimming pools. He said he wanted to "change the tide of
education where people want to stay in the schools." He
said he wanted to change the dropout rate and explained that he
thought his political connections would be helpful for the whole
community. He explained, "Iím a facilitator. I can get
Douglas Clarke told the audience
that he worked for the NYC Board of Education as an
administrator. He said, "I have a passion for education and
will work diligently to restore the Freeport Schools." He
told the audience, "We must include the entire
community in education."
Carmen Pineyro said, "I
will make a positive difference and will bring pride back to the
school system." She said it is time for a new vision. "We need to build bridges, not play the blame
Al Renken, former Freeport high
school principal and school board president, told the audience,
"I began as a teacher in this school. Iím tired of
hearing people badmouth Freeport." He pointed out that he
was wearing the school's red colors, pointing out his shirt and
socks, to the amusement of the audience. He explained the
necessity of having to "recognize the responsibility of 500
million dollars worth of assets." He concluded by saying,
"I can offer a wealth of experience."
Question number one: Addressed
the need for change and how the candidate envisioned moving
forward and not backward.
Bernie Smith: The staff
has to stay and not leave the children hanging.
Douglas Clark: We must work
together to maintain a quality of education in Freeport. The
Board of Education has to provide leadership.
Carmine Pineyro: We need to
keep veteran teachers and make everybody accountable.
Al Renken: Freeport is a
community in change. We need to make sure the students are in
Ron Ellerbe: We donít need
change for change sake. We need to concentrate on things that
Question number two: What would
you do to raise the 4th grade test scores?
Douglas Clarke: We need early
intervention and early remediation. We need to work together
to raise all scores.
Carmen Pineyro: We need to see
where the problems are and come up with solutions. We need to
remove programs that are not working.
Al Renken: They are increased.
We have reaped the harvest of increased test scores. The
youngsters in grades 1 to 4 are doing a great job.
Ron Ellerbe: Early
intervention is the main element to getting the scores up.
Bernie Smith: You have to have
an effective school board. You have to analyze and identify.
Question: Do you support the
Al Renken: I will vote for
this budget, but I will have to hold my nose. I was surprised
by the lack of information that was available to the public.
Ron Ellerbe: I support the
budget. Ninety seven million dollars is a lot of money.
Bernie Smith: I canít
criticize the budget till I get in there.
Douglas Clarke: I support the
Carmen Pineyro: I support the
Question: What will you do to
help studentís with special needs due to the absence of
Ron Ellerbe: Parents can
request a meeting with the board.
Bernie Smith: If there is an
absence of staff, we need money.
Douglas Clarke: We are
required by law to provide intervention services. We have to
make sure all students have access to these services.
Carmine Pineyro: We have to
get funds from other areas.
Al Renken: There are a limited
number of therapists in Nassau County. We should share
therapists from a pool with nearby districts.
Question: With the increase of
non English speaking students, what would you do to see that
they are brought into the mainstream?
Bernie Smith: We need
additional money to see that they are brought into the
Douglas Clarke: I endorse ELL
programs. We should try and appreciate both the similarities
Carmen Pineyro: We have to be
very sensitive about the diversity in our community. We need
to let the parents know the importance of not taking their
children out of school. We need to bring the parents into the
Al Renken: I am in full
agreement with Ms. Pineyro You have to bring the parents into
the system. The school has to reach out. The pity is we tend
to flush them up and they get lost in the pipe line.
Ron Ellerbe: I agree with Ms.
Pineyro and Dr. Renken. We must bring the parents back into
Question: What would you do to
get the Jr. and Sr. High Schools off the state watch list?
Douglas Clarke: It is
necessary to put the programs in place for remediation. We
need to make an effort to expand with the colleges in the
community. All students must have access to all services.
Carmen Pineyro: Accountability
is important. We must bring the parents in.
Al Renken: The elementary
schools are focused and headed in the right direction. We must
make sure kids are in class.
Ron Ellerbe: We need early
Bernie Smith: We must hire
administrators that will succeed. We must have administrators
and staff that will make the programs work.
The candidates concluded their
closing statements by thanking the PTA counsel for hosting the