Editor's note: This is the second in a series of profiles of this year's Board of Education candidates. The election will be held May 15 at the same time as the school budget .
Douglas Duncan was first elected to the Sachem Board of Education in 2006 at the age of 18. Six years later, Duncan faces two challengers (Jeff Vinci and Jon Siegel) as he seeks a third three-year term on the board.
1) Please briefly describe your bio (age, education, occupation and name of your employer/s, family, etc.)
I am 24 years old, Sachem graduate, and I am receiving my degree from Dowling College this spring for political science and a minor in history. I am the president and CEO of Northeast Athletic Association, a non-profit that I founded which supports and promotes youth sports across Long Island. I am also the Downstate NY Director of Fastpitch Softball for USSSA (United States Specialty Sports Association) the country's largest multi-sport association.
2) How long have you been a resident of the Sachem School District?
I have been a resident of Sachem my entire life.
3) Why are you running for the Sachem Board of Education?
I am running for another term on the board to continue to build upon what we as a board have accomplished in the past 6 years. Having graduated from Sachem and lived here my entire life, I know what people expect from our school district in terms of an education for their student. As I said 6 years ago, it is my firm and unwavering belief that the children of Sachem should be getting the same great education and the same opportunities that I had while in Sachem.
4) What do you hope to accomplish?
If elected to another term, I hope to be able to maintain our current academic program and co-curricular offerings for our students while continuing to maintain sensitivity to the taxpayers.
5) What is the biggest issue the Sachem School District faces in the year ahead?
The biggest issue that our district faces in the upcoming year is the uncertainty of both our state aid and what our contribution to the retirement system will be. Two years ago we had a massive amount of state aide cut and only had a partial amount restored this year, next year we have no idea what to expect in terms of state aide. In addition, our payments to the TRS (Teacher Retirement System) and ERS (Employee Retirement System) have gone up millions of dollars over the past couple of years. All of these expenses are out of our control as a board.
6) The state's new tax cap: the district is proposing a budget over the cap this year. Do you agree with that decision? Explain why.
I do agree with it, and I voted yes to adopting the budget. The cuts that would have had to be made to hit the 2.7 percent which is our districts tax-cap would have been drastic. It would have meant cutting co-curricular opportunities, increasing class sizes or even going to half day kindergarten, all of which I do not support doing at this time.
7) Looking 5-10 years down the road, how can the district maintain its current programs and staff without overtaxing residents? Where may there be cost-savings?
To maintain what we have now, over the next 5-10 years the school board needs to keep negotiating fair labor contracts, like we have done for the past six years. In addition, the board needs to keep looking for ways to keep work done in-house. For example, we are bringing the cosmetology program in-house next year and are saving $150,000. Our in-house maintenance workers are getting certified in fiber-optic repairs and we will now do all of that work in-house which will save us over $300,000 annually. During the excel bond, we were able to do some of the work in-house which saved us $3 million which the board was then able to use in this current year's budget (2011-12) as a revenue to offset our loss in state aide.
8) What are three of your favorite hobbies?
Three of my favorite hobbies are, reading, going to the gym and watching sports. I read both non-fiction and fiction books and enjoy watching pretty much any sport in particular baseball which is my favorite sport to watch.