On Tuesday, May 16, voters will head to the polls to vote for the Westbury School District budget, as well as who will fill two seats on the board of education. Here, in their own words, are why the candidates think you should vote for them.
—Westbury High School Class of 1986, attended Nassau Community College
—Occupation: NYCTA/MTA Station Agent
—Running as a team with former board member Rodney Caines. This will be my second term as a board member. I have served July 2014—July 2017
—Vice President of the Westbury/New Cassel NAACP Branch 2184, vice president of the board for McCoy Family and Youth Services, former vice president of the Westbury High School PTSA. Former president of the Westbury School District PTA Council, former PTA president for Park Avenue School, Drexel Avenue School and the Westbury High School. Served as Girl Scout Leader, for Daisy Troop at Dryden Street School, Brownie Troop at Park Avenue School and Junior Troop at Drexel Avenue School.
—Married To Byron Bolling and have two children: Daughter Alexa graduated from Nassau Community College May 2014. She will graduate St. John’s University in 2018. Son Alex graduated from Westbury High School in June 2014. He graduated from Lincoln Technical 2016.
Westbury School District residents are burdened with one of the highest tax rates in the entire state. Many of our homeowners are at a breaking point between paying their taxes and taking care of their responsibilities. As a taxpayer, I feel their pain. Board members must be laser focused on reducing the burden placed upon or residents. During the three years I have been on the board, I have worked to increase the amount of funding the district receives from the state. This effort has resulted in a 16 percent ($7 million) increase in state aid compared to last year. In my second term, I plan to continue working to reduce the tax burden faced by our community while continuing to address the needs of our children.
My name is Reynolds (Ren) Zelaya and I am running for a seat on the Westbury School District Board of Education. I was raised in Westbury and have lived most of my life in this wonderful community. As a single father of three Westbury public school students, I am well aware of the strengths, struggles and challenges that our district faces. My time as a board member in the middle school PTSA, high school PTSA and PTA Council has been both rewarding and enlightening. From our overcrowded facilities, budget constraints, the challenges of the Common Core initiative, I know that Westbury needs strong leadership with vision and a willingness to seek a different approach towards getting our many needs fulfilled. I understand the importance of working collaboratively and respectfully, even when discussing differences of opinion.
My decision to run for the board is wholly based on my personal conviction to help the district in whatever capacity I am able to provide. It is the duty of every individual sitting on the board to demand that the district pursue higher SAT scores, higher math and reading level ratings and better college preparedness for every student in the district. The financial and contractual concerns of the district should not take precedence over the need for quality education.
With a seat on the school board, I hope to use my two decades of experience as a project manager with a security company, and my ability to deal with the many factions involved with commercial projects—clients, contractors, tenants and authorities having jurisdiction—to wade through complications and problems that often arise, making me an ideal candidate to help the district at a time when division and disagreements are hindering the progress of the students.
As a board member, I hope to help Westbury schools provide positive and inclusive educational initiatives for all of our students, to scrutinize our budget and make sure that our tax dollars are being spent wisely, to give our many dedicated teachers the tools that they need to succeed, to be a voice of reason within the board of education, and help make Westbury a school district that is worthy of the amazing and diverse community that it serves.
I am a Westbury High School alumni; serving the school board for 15 years. I’m a senior board member who has studied board roles and responsibilities extensively. I’m an active community volunteer who is aware of the diverse community I serve. As an incumbent I know what to expect. I am committed to education, involvement, raising standards and fighting for funding for our district.
I am running for the school board to represent all of the people of the Westbury community. I have knowledge of New York State Education Law, policy, procedures, school administration, curriculum, staffing, day to day instruction, budgeting, athletics, scheduling, negotiations and much more. I would love to continue to serve the community as an advocate for the children and everyone who has a vested interested in our success.
I have received degrees in business management, economics, human resource management and labor relations. I have served as an officer of the board and member of board committees. I have served on the New York State School Board Associations, Cultural Diversity Committee and am the immediate Past President and Area 11 Director for the New York State Caucus of Black School Board Members. My involvement as a school board trustee has crossed this nation providing me a large network of educators. I am not afraid to work hard and stand up for what I know is right.
I look forward to taking part in a search for our next superintendent. I am aware of the challenges we face with the increasing student population and the contractual demands on school budgets. We must continue to tell our story. We must continue to lobby. I have been to Albany and to Washington, DC to lobby with success. I am currently on the R.E.F.I.T. board fighting for funding equality. We must push for the formula for funding public education to change.
We must consider extended day, extended year, weekends, reduction of class size, new construction, leasing/rented space or split scheduling. I support the establishment of parent centers in all of the schools; where parents and schools can work together to address the academic needs.
I have lived in Westbury for most of my life and am a product of the Westbury public school system. After graduating from Westbury High School in 1993, I attended and graduated from the United States Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, NY in 1997 with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Marine Engineering. My wife Traci and I have four daughters, an 18-year-old currently in the 12th grade at Westbury High School, who will be attending Bowie State University in the fall, a 7-year-old currently in second grade at Park Avenue School, a 4-year-old in Westbury’s Pre-K program and a 2-year-old who will be a proud member of the class of 2033! I am committed to maintaining Westbury as a great community to live in and raise kids.
I am running for election to the school board to restore sound fiscal management practices to the operation of the school district by the school board. I was appalled when four members of the board recently voted to force the superintendent of schools to resign at a cost of $750,000 with no value to taxpayers. This money that could have been used to reduce our too-high property taxes or to provide much-needed educational services to our children. These are difficult financial times for most of us. We can not afford to waste money.
As a homeowner and taxpayer, voters can count on me to work to use our resources efficiently. I was pleased to have worked with the former superintendent to produce a budget in 2015-16 that actually reduced our taxes. Voters can count on me to continue to use my financial and management skills to their benefit.