Tag Archive | "Tommy John Schiavoni"

State Aid for Sag Harbor Uncertain as Governor Cuomo Holds Education Budget Hostage

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By Tessa Raebeck

With Governor Andrew Cuomo holding school aid in limbo in hopes of forcing the New York State Legislature to adopt his educational reforms, next year’s school budgets—and educational mandates—remain a mystery to school boards and administrative teams trying to prepare for the 2015-16 school year.

“What the governor is doing is he wants to push his reform package,” Tommy John Schiavoni, legislative liaison to the Sag Harbor Board of Education, said at Tuesday’s meeting.

In January’s State of the State address, Governor Cuomo agreed to grant an additional $1.1 billion, or 4.8 percent, in state funding to New York’s schools if and only if the legislature passes his reforms. If the legislature—which, divided between a Democratic-controlled Assembly and Republican-controlled Senate, is often at a standstill—fails to do so, the governor threatened to limit that increase to 1.7 percent. In the meantime, those crafting school budgets must play a guessing game without direct information on how much state aid they’ll receive.

“He has publicly said that if he doesn’t get it, they’re going to hold back money from education,” Mr. Schiavoni said of the governor.

The reform package proposed by the governor includes teacher evaluations with 50 percent based on standardized tests, a proposal rebuked by the state’s teachers unions.

“I think that is certainly something that will affect us [and the annual Professional Performance Review] we’ve developed in Sag Harbor,” said Mr. Schiavoni.

Governor Cuomo is also requesting a five-year tenure plan to “make it easier to discipline teachers,” Mr. Schiavoni said. If enacted, the governor’s plan would make it easier for teachers to be fired and harder for them to be granted tenure.

Other reforms the governor is compelling the legislature to adopt include: raising the number of charter schools in the state by 100 and requiring those schools to accept less advantaged and lower-scoring students; starting a pilot pre-K program for 3-year-olds; sending specialists into schools that have been designated as “failing” for three years; and creating an education tax credit for private, public and charter school donations.

The governor’s office will not release the final financial numbers until the budget has passed, which could be as late as April 1. School districts, in turn, must tell the state comptroller’s office whether they plan to pierce the state tax cap, enacted in 2011, by March 1, at which point they could be missing information vital to understanding next year’s finances.

In other school board news, Superintendent Katy Graves said the district has accepted the i-Tri program, a self-empowerment group in which middle school girls focus on building confidence, mental health and physical stamina over six months, culminating with the girls racing in a triathlon in July.

The program was expected to be voted on by the board on Tuesday, but did not end up requiring a vote because there are no longer any transportation costs associated with it.

Theresa Roden, director and founder of i-tri, “has such a wealth of volunteers that are willing to come from the community into the school building that it’s become a facilities use agreement,” Ms. Graves said.

There are no costs for the district, but the program will use Pierson’s facilities and the administrative team, who will help i-tri with the selection process, which favors girls who are not involved in interscholastic sports.

Pierson Middle School Vice Principal Brittany Miaritis said the school is dispensing a survey for i-tri this week to “figure out girl selection for the program.”

The board’s next meeting is Monday, February 23, in the Pierson library. A budget workshop will be held at 6 p.m. followed by the regular meeting at 7:30 p.m.

Schiavoni Will Run in North Haven

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By Stephen J. Kotz

Although the North Haven Party will not see any challengers in this June’s election—barring an unforeseen write-in campaign—the party, which holds a monopoly on the board, will see a new face among its candidates for trustee.

Tommy John Schiavoni, a lifetime resident of the village and a member of the village Zoning Board of Appeals, has announced that he will seek a two-year term on the board. He will replace Trustee George Butts who has chosen not to seek another term.

Also running will be incumbent Mayor Jeff Sander and incumbent Trustees Diane Skilbred and James Davis. All terms are for two years, except that of Mr. Davis, who was appointed a year ago to complete Mr. Sander’s term as trustee after Mr. Sander, in turn, replaced Mayor Laura Nolan who stepped down.

In Sag Harbor, incumbent Trustee Keith Duchemin has also announced he is stepping down after a single two-year term. But incumbent Trustee Robby Stein will be joined on the ballot by Sandra Schroeder, a former village administrator, who ran unsuccessfully for mayor a year ago; John Shaka, a board member of the advocacy group, Save Sag Harbor; and Bruce Stafford, who served as trustee from 2009 to 2011.

Mr. Schiavoni, 50, who teaches middle school and high school social studies in the Center Moriches School District, said on Tuesday that it was appropriate that he recently taught a course on participation in government.

“It’s a beautiful village, and I’d like to help maintain its character,” he said of his decision to seek elected office. Mr. Schiavoni listed stormwater runoff and controlling tick-borne illnesses has two issues he would like to concentrate on.

“I don’t think we are a major source point of pollution,” Mr. Schiavoni said, “but all runoff matters, considering we are right in the Peconic Bay estuary.”

Mr. Schiavoni said a growing deer population has led to a rise in tick-borne diseases.

“I believe we have a human health issue with ticks, not only in North Haven but the East End in general,” he said.

Mr. Schiavoni said he had seen plenty of changes over the years. “When I grew up, we were kind of a suburb of Sag Harbor,” he said. “There were a lot of places to roam and camp.”

Deer, he said, were few and far between. “They were bigger too,” he said, “and they didn’t let you get close to them. It really is different now.”

Mr. Schiavoni is past president and treasurer of the Bay Haven Association and is a member of the Sag Harbor Fire Department.

He is married to Andrea Schiavoni, a justice in both Southampton Town and Sag Harbor Village. They have two children, Anna and Thomas.

Also on the ballot will be Mayor Sander, who will be seeking his first two-year term as an elected mayor after replacing Ms. Nolan last year and serving as a board member for six years before that. Mr. Sander, a retired computer executive, pointed to his management skills as his chief asset.

Ms. Skilbred, who has lived in North Haven for 30 years, is seeking her third two-year term on the board. Before being elected trustee, she served on the village Architectural Review Board for 15 years, including six years as chairwoman. On the ARB she played a major role in crafting the village’s floor area ratio law and served on the Citizens Traffic Calming Committee that contributed to safer bike lanes and the village traffic circle.

Mr. Davis, a village resident for 14 years, was appointed last year to complete Mr. Sander’s term as trustee when Mr. Sander became mayor. Mr. Davis served for seven years on the ARB, including a year as chairman, in 2011. He is a member of the Sag Harbor Fire Department.

Mr. Sander said that no matter how many votes any given candidate receives, Mr. Davis would only be eligible to serve a one-year term.