The race for two Board of Education seats has already taken a turn, with one contender pulling out, and two others officially declaring their candidacy.
Last week, the Herald reported that Board of Education President Pat Gallagher, who has been a trustee for 12 years, would not seek re-election in this year’s school board election.
Both Gallagher’s and Trustee Dr. Dennis Ryan’s seats are up this year. The move by Gallagher opens the race up to new faces vying to join a mostly long-serving, tight-knit board, and a few residents have expressed interest in running. The deadline for entering the race is April 30, and the election is May 20.
Ryan is still running for re-election as planned. Matt Adler, a Seaford High School math teacher who ran unsuccessfully against Trustee Roy Lester for his seat last year, initially said that he was running again this year.
However, Adler told the Herald last Friday that he would no longer be running for one of the two school board seats. Adler told the Herald, “Right now is not the right time for me.”
Long Beach Public Library trustee and Long Beach Public Schools teacher Warren Vegh, who was previously on the fence about running, threw his hat in the ring last Thursday, posting on Facebook, “I am looking forward to serving our future generations and working to enhance the quality of our school district.” He told the Herald this week that many people in the community encouraged him to run.
A new addition to the mix is Maureen Vrona, an active parent in the school district. Vrona said that she decided to run because she thinks the board needs more members who have kids currently in the district.
“I feel like I’m more in touch with what’s going on in the buildings,” she said. “It gives me a different perspective.”
Vrona worked as an education lawyer up until 2008, covering a range of subjects including budgeting, labor, special education and constitutional issues. She said that she has consistently attended and been vocal at school board meetings since 2004, when her son entered school. She served as the president of three PTAs and sat on numerous district committees, including the curriculum council and the budget advisory, facilities and health and safety committees.
Vrona said that her number one priority as a board member would be maintaining and enhancing school programs to benefit the students. She said that she wants to see the board be fiscally responsible so that quality programs can continue, rather than make cuts at the expense of programs.
“I am a firm believer in cuts, but not to the kids’ programs,” she said. “I feel that [savings] should go to the kids and the programs, as opposed to an administration building.”