School board election 2024: Meet the Valley Stream District 13 school board candidates


Four candidates are vying for two contested seats on District 13’s Board of Education on May 21.  Newcomer Jaianti Singh and previous challenger Andrew Sgro are vying for the open seat of Jennifer Oliveri, board of education president. Oliveri exited the race days from Election Day, citing family obligations. Anthony Bonelli is defending his seat against newcomer Sarah Sabatino.

The candidates were asked for their thoughts on the most pressing issues facing the district.


Jaianti Singh vs. Andrew Sgro

Singh, a Malverne resident and roughly decades-long parent at Valley Stream School District 13 brings her professional healthcare expertise and ground-roots community involvement to the table. The physical therapist and mother of two has played an active leadership role in the school’s PTA, running committees, and serving as treasurer of the Executive PTA.

Singh, 42, underscores the value of thoughtful, data-driven decision-making in helping buck the tide of what she described as a “steady decline in overall” education performance in the past few years. Despite well-meaning intervention, “our district is becoming less and less competitive,” she said.

One key area of concern is what she claimed is a depreciating lack of one-to-one student support as classroom size increases. Singh is also calling for more transparent communication between the district and families, arguing that parents must be better kept in the loop. Her proposed solutions emphasize restructuring classes, enhancing collaboration, closely evaluating student performance, and creating prudent interventions.

Sgro, a proud Will Road graduate and an audit partner at a thriving accounting firm, has set his sights on supporting his boys’ district as one of its trustees. His three-pronged priorities are security, healthy classroom sizes, and improving communication. Sgro calls for not only improving the interior security of the building but also its campus and its surrounding environment by tailoring safety measures that account for things like traffic flows.

He claims that the district should foster stronger lines of communication that take the feedback of teachers and parents more seriously. His budget-savvy and polished communication skills, the accounting analyst believes, will prove handy for the board. Sgro also believes providing a quality education to all students hinges on a clear understanding of every student’s “unique strengths, challenges, and learning styles.”

To that end, he underscores the need to invest in allocating student resources equitably, championing differentiated student instruction, and boosting special education support.


Anthony Bonelli vs. Sarah Sabatino

Bonelli has served on the board since 2021. In his professional life, he served for decades managing various city services, optimizing systems, and improving standards. His roots in Valley Stream run deep as a Wheeler graduate and longtime resident. Bonelli says his master’s in business administration and incumbency experience make him the best candidate to keep a check on the school administration’s financial spending.

If re-elected, he aims to work with his fellow trustees to bring pre-K classes to all district schools and provide “supplemental educational services to all students so they can reach their potential and meet their grade-level standards in each subject of study.”

“I strongly believe in pre-kindergarten and its ability to give all students an early start in learning and socialization as well as freeing up parents to go back to work,” he said. He expressed dismay at what he claims was the declining reading proficiency of students and believes smart budget strategies aimed at maximizing savings could be pumped into better funding student services in these areas.

Sabatino has worn many hats as a mother of two, a small business owner, a PTA leader, and a former educator. Now she aims to channel her stalwart support of her school community as a board trustee. If elected, Sabatino’s top priority is striking the right balance between “delivering top-notch education and managing finances effectively.”

She pledged to prioritize strong communication with the New York State Education Department and other governing bodies to maximize available funding. With careful use of the purse strings and securing grants for innovative programs, the 39-year-old Valley Stream resident believes the district will have the wherewithal to expand extracurriculars, invest in technology, and support diverse student needs.

She is also a firm proponent “of inclusive teaching practices that cater to diverse learning styles and abilities which encourages engagement and a meaningful learning experience for all. This also means meeting “state and federal mandates for students in special education programs, English Language Learners, and other marginalized groups, as well as those needing mental health support.”

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