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Meet the Freeport BOE candidates

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Three candidates are running for the two-open positions on the Freeport Public School District Board of Education. 

While incumbents Vilma Lancaster and Ronald Ellerbe hope to retain their positions, Donna Raphael is looking for her own seat on the board.

Like the incumbents, Raphael is a long-time Freeporter who has had children go through the Freeport public education system. She has also helped foster an entrepreneurship program at the Atkinson School.  

Raphael said she was motivated to run because of the coronavirus pandemic, which brought unprecedented change to the district as it moved to an E-Learning model. She hopes to bring her experience from the nonprofit sector to close the gaps and help the district transition to the new format. 

Raphael also hopes to bring additional financial mindfulness to the board as the district continues to struggle with its budget and try to find monetary opportunities outside of taxes. 

Incumbent Vilma Lancaster works as the village assessor for the Village of Freeport, joined the Board of Education in 2011 after her children entered the school district. 

She said it was important for her to be on the board to help ensure an equitable education for all the students in the district. Lancaster also wanted to make sure that these opportunities also existed for students who were learning English as a second language, as the district boasts a large immigrant population.  

After becoming vice president of the Board of Education last year, Lancaster also became the chairperson for community outreach, which has her meet with parents and community members to discuss issues affecting students. Part of these conversations involved enriching the district’s English as a New Language classes. 

Lancaster hopes to continue her time on the board to help continue expanding the district’s educational programs while also advocating for an increase in state aid. 

Ellerbe, who also serves the Village of Freeport as a village trustee, has been on the Board of Education for nearly 25 years.  

He has also served as a board member of the Nassau Board of Cooperative Education Services and the Nassau County Planning Commission and is a past president of the Nassau-Suffolk School Board Association. He has coached Little League baseball.

Last October, Ellerbe was recognized as businessperson of the Year by the Nassau Council of Chambers of Commerce at its 35th annual awards breakfast, Citizen of the Year by the Freeport Salvation Army at its 31st annual civic dinner, and Member of the Month by the Freeport Chamber of Commerce for his work in the local community. 

Residents will have the opportunity to vote for two of the three candidates on June 9, via absentee ballots that were mailed out to each home.