With taxes high, teachers being let go, student resources cut and overcrowding a reality in Huntington Station, Town Board candidates were asked at a recent forum what they would do, if elected, to help increase the quality of education.
During the NAACP-sponsored Meet The Candidates Night at the South Huntington Public Library last week, some promised advocation with Albany to curb mandates others agreed that communication is key.
Republican candidate Eugene Cook said there should be no excuse for our kids not getting the best education out there."
"As a Town Council member what I would like to do is get all of the boards of the schools together and sit them down and have a good discussion about what we need to consolidate to cut costs," said Cook.
Married to a teacher, Herb Morrow said he understands schools from the perspective of an educator.
"The best thing we can do to help our kids get a good education is to let the people who teach our kids, teach," said Morrow, a Republican and the mayor of Huntington Bay.
Morrow said he recently met a fourth grade teacher in a South Huntington shopping center at the midway point in her career who believes teaching is not as much fun as it used to be.
He said a lot of the problem has to do with Albany.
"We have a two percent tax cap that was going to solve all of these problems yet all of the school districts this year were handed new programs that had to be implemented over the summer," said Morrow. "Many of the school principals had to go off to training for $12-15,000 that was not budgeted."
Morrow said he would work to "get [Albany] off our backs in terms of mandates and allow our teachers to teach out kids."
Incumbent Town Board member Glenda Jackson agreed with Morrow.
"I actually agree with my opponent," said Jackson, a Democrat. "We do need to advocate with Albany."
Jackson said although school districts are not under the jurisdiction of the town, [the town] "should continue to do the right thing."
As far as overcrowding in District 3, Jackson has a plan. "If we get that school opened, we can alleviate some of that."
Town Board member Susan Berland said she has been invited by a couple of school districts to sit with PTSA groups where students and parents explain to elected officials what they want and she can describe what the town is doing to help.
"Communication is very important because the Town Board does not have any direct jurisdiction over the school district," said Berland. "That being said, it is very important for us as a town to provide the types of programs we provide."
She said the Youth Council, made up of representatives from all of the nine high schools in the Town of Huntington to discuss issues that affect them should be continued.
"It's very important that we keep these programs open in the town," said Berland.