Following current school board president John Diviney's decision to not run for re-election this year, three candidates are seeking the two seats that will be the focus of this year's trustee race. On May 15, residents will not only vote on the school budget and natural gas proposition, but they will also elect two trustees to the school board. This year's candidates are Deanna Bavlnka, Bill Connors Jr., and Andrea Fusco-Winslow.
Elected in 2011 to serve out the remaining year of service vacated by a board member who resigned, Bavlnka is the only incumbent running for the Board of Education this year. The mother of two students in the school system, Bavlnka is a human resources professional with more than 20 years of experience in the field.
In a statement to Patch, Bavlnka said her top three priorities are fiscal responsibility, maximizing each student’s chance to reach their potential, and creating a safe and healthy environment for students.
"I understand that educating children is a mission that requires a wide spectrum of stakeholders and the board must be willing and focused to work with teachers, administrators, students, parents and the community groups, all of whom have an interest in the success of our children," Bavlnka said.
William (Bill) Connors, Jr.
A Three Village resident for 39 years, Connors is a former school board trustee who served as board president for 10 years between 1996 and 2006. Connors, who grew up in Port Jefferson, has three grown children who attended Three Village schools. He recently retired from a 44-year career at Suffolk Community College, were he retired as associate vice president for academic affairs and college dean of faculty. Connors is running on a slate with Bavlnka.
Connors told Patch he is concerned that American students are falling behind those in other nations and may be unable to compete in a global economy. "I want to make sure the educational programs are of the highest quality," he said. "...If we want to be an economic leader, we have to be up there." Connors also said he is concerned with making sure that students on every learning level have their needs met within the district, and with managing the district's finances.
Fusco-Winslow grew up in Stony Brook, graduated Ward Melville HS in 1988, and returned to the Three Village area with her family in 2003. She is an anesthesiologist who was educated at Duke University, Boston University, and St. George's School of Medicine. Fusco-Winslow has her own office-based anesthesia company, which she started in 2009. She and her husband have two daughters who attend school at .
In a statement to Patch, Fusco said she appreciates at this time that families are having a hard time making ends meet, and that bringing revenue into the district is a priority.
"The district should work hard on bringing more funds in by going to outside large businesses for donations, incentivize teachers to apply for grants and lobbying more in Albany for funds," Fusco said in a statement to Patch. "The district needs to work with our PTA, our outstanding teachers and our community to make this possible. By protecting children's educational programs first and bringing funds into the district, Three Village can remain an excellent place to raise children and the value of homes in Three Village will begin to rise."
Stay tuned to Patch for detailed question-and-answer sessions with the school board candidates in the coming weeks.