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Freeport School News
May 2002

Carmen Pineyro Makes History May 21, 2002
School Board Candidate Night
What They Said
May 15, 2002 (Posted May 16th)
May 21, 2002

Carmen Pineyro Makes History

History was made tonight when twenty six year old Carmen Pineyro was the top vote getter in the Freeport Board of Education Election. Pineyro becomes the first elected Latino board member of any board in the history of Freeport. Pineyro told FreeportNYNews: "Today marks the beginning of a new era in Freeport. I am proud and gratified to have the support of our community. I do not accept this responsibility lightly and I thank my family and all who have made my victory a reality."

Also elected, for a third term, was incumbent Ron Ellerbe. In other election news, both the Freeport library and school budgets passed. By Stewart S Lilker

May 15, 2002 (Posted May 16th)

School Board Candidate Night
What They Said


By Stewart S Lilker

May 16, 2002
PTA 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.

Marci 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 things done."

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 game."

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 class.

Ron Ellerbe: We donít need change for change sake. We need to concentrate on things that are positive.

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 budget?

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 budget.

Carmen Pineyro: I support the budget.

Question: What will you do to help studentís with special needs due to the absence of therapists?

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 mainstream.

Douglas Clarke: I endorse ELL programs. We should try and appreciate both the similarities and differences.

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 system.

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 the fold.

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 intervention.

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 event.

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