Bayport-Blue Point taxpayers are bringing big change to the board of education come July having voted out two longtime incumbents and electing three new members on Tuesday.
Newcomers Rebecca Campbell, John Lynch and Bill Milligan, a trio who ran on a quasi-slate strategy, beat out BOE Vice President Andrea O’Neill and trustee Jane Burgess in one of the biggest election upsets in years.
The number of tenured board members leaving once terms expire in June is three, as Kathy Heinlein chose not to seek re-election this year. That leaves four incumbents, two of which have double-digit tenure: Board President Jim March and 12-year trustee Lenny Camarda. The remaining two trustees are Molly E Licalzi and Diane D’Angelo who are both in their second three-year term.
“We lost two good board members but I’m looking forward to working with the new members. I am ecstatic the budget passed,” said Camarda after results were announced at the high school gym late Tuesday evening.
Board President Jim March said the results indicated that “the public has spoken,” and was happy that the budget passed by a large majority vote. The $64,908,505 budget, which carries a spend increase of 1.96 percent and a tax levy increase of 2.29 percent, was approved by a two-to-one margin, 1,773 to 808.
He stated that both Burgess and O’Neill had given great service to the community.
Campbell, who defeated O’Neill in the run for Heinlein’s three-year seat by a vote of 1,377 to 1,080, said the election results indicate the community is ready for a change.
“I’m looking forward to serving and working with the other board members and this was a result of a remarkable co-candidacy that had the support of friends and neighbors every step of the way,” she said. “This is a great district but there are problems but we can work on solving them as a new board.”
Bill Milligan, who defeated Jane Burgess by just 124 votes, in a final tally of 1,296 to 1,172, said the victory was the hard work of many people.
“We had a lot of support. It was a good vote and I’m optimistic we can make change,” he said.
Burgess said she and O’Neill will leave with a strong legacy of achievements, citing new playgrounds, improved buildings, new curriculums and white board technology in every classroom.
“As hard as it is to lose the position of trustee I know we have worked as a team for the improvement of our schools and this community. I wish the new members well in their quests for the goals they have expressed and that they are able to leave just as impressive legacy's when they pass the torch,” she told Patch in an email.
The two incumbents also noted that the LEAP program was initiated during their tenure as well as a teacher evaluation plan, well before a state mandate was enacted for such employee reviews.
The third member of the victorious slate, John Lynch, beat challenger Michael Miller by a tally of 1,709 to 770 for the two-year O’Neill term.
The seven-member board will remain at seven as voters nixed reducing the board to a five-member body by a vote of 856 to 715.
The board has a busy agenda ahead as the district needs to first hire an interim superintendent given the resignation of Anthony Annunziato who is leaving at the end of June to serve as school chief in Smithtown. March has stated the board intends to launch a nationwide search for a full-time superintendent and hopes to make the hire during the upcoming school year.