Editor's note: This is the first 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 .
Michael Isernia is running unopposed for a three-year term on the Sachem Board of Education.
Isernia was appointed to the board in 2010 after David Egloff stepped down mid-year. Isernia, 49, ran last year for a one-year term on the board.
Isernia graduated from Sachem in 1981. He holds a bachelor’s degree from SUNY Maritime, a master’s from Dowling College and a J.D. from Touro College. Prior to being a board trustee, he served on the capital projects and budget advisory committee in Sachem.
Isernia has been a general practice attorney in Lake Ronkonkoma since 1999. He also is employed as section manager for Underwriters Laboratories, Inc. in Melville.
Isernia has two daughters, Victoria, 17, a student a Sachem North, and 3-year-old Kathryn.
1) How long have you been a resident of the Sachem School District?
2) Why are you running for the Sachem Board of Education?
I bring a solid private industry perspective and coupled with legal, management and engineering experiences provide a balance to the board's composition.
3) What do you hope to accomplish?
I think the community has made it clear that they want us to do everything possible to maintain our programs while being sensitive to the community and taxpayer. I want to be able to continue to provide the same and additional opportunities to our students. In these times I will be trying to accomplish just that.
4) What is the biggest issue the Sachem School District faces in the year ahead?
Clearly, the uncertain state aid situation and the continued disproportionate allocation of Long Island tax dollars makes financing our district the number one concern.
5) 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. The community made it clear during several meetings last year that they are not in favor of eliminating programs. Accordingly, this budget, preserves everything that currently runs today. I believe we took all the appropriate steps to get to this point, including concessions from the largest bargaining unit, rolling over any and all fund balance and using all but $241,000 of our reserves. Taking into account and trying to balance all the competing interests, I submit that we're in a tenable position. I understand that at 4.2 percent we'll need a "super-majority" to get approval but I want the community to have a say in preserving the programs as they are today. I did not take this decision lightly and please also bear in mind that, unlike the US Congress, the board members are not exempt from their own actions and adopted a budget that will raise their own taxes as well.
6) 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?
I think you have to recognize that enrollment is decreasing. We need to continue a "right-sizing" by maintaining the established student/teacher ratios. Additional savings can be realized through infrastructure technology, one item for instance would be to change over to LED Lighting in all our buildings to reduce energy costs.
7) What are three of your favorite hobbies?
I enjoy hunting, fishing and visiting historical places.