LAKE RONKONKOMA, NY (OnSachem.com / OnTownMedia.com) — Eight Sachem residents are running for three open seats on the school board. OnSachem invited all eight candidates to participate in a profile. In the following profile, OnSachem introduces readers to Kristin Gelzinis.
If Gelzinis is elected, she will be among nine members of the school board. The Sachem Central School District is the second-largest suburban school district in New York State with an enrollment of approximately 13,500 students. There are 10 elementary schools, three middle schools, and two 9-12 high schools. The June 9 election will be held by absentee ballot this year because of the pandemic.
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Do you have children? Do they attend Sachem presently, or did they graduate from Sachem?
Yes I have a third grader in Wenonah.
New York Institute of Technology - BS in Psychology
Stony Brook University - Masters of Social Work
Organizations and activities:
I am Director and team leader for the Suffolk County Crisis management team, I am a Advisor for the Ronkonkoma Fire department Explorers, I sit on the Budget Advisory, Legislative, and Social and emotional learning committees for Sachem CSD. I am a Board of Ed delegate for Wenonah PTA. I teach religious education and am a lifetime member for Medford Ambulance. I have previously sat on their Board of Directors and sat as treasurer for two years.
I am proud to be a Sachem resident and active community member. We have a great school district with some of the most amazing teachers and staff I have ever encountered. I have seen us in the worst of times, and I am now seeing us get back into a positive upswing. I believe I bring a lot to the table. I would really like to continue to make Sachem a positive learning environment for all of our children. Our children are in school for six hours a day under normal circumstances, I believe it’s time to start looking at how we can implement a whole child approach to learning. If we continue to build upon what we have we can make our district an even more amazing place for our children to thrive.
OnSachem asked readers to share questions they would like the candidates to address.
What attributes are you seeking for the new Superintendent for Sachem?
My first and foremost thought is I would want someone who sees a future in staying with Sachem. Someone we know is in it for the long haul.
I would love to see our candidates vision for the school. What can they bring to our school, what is their experience? I would want someone open minded and approachable. Who will be best for our students? Are they a good leader?
Most importantly they need to be a a great communicator and listener. They must take in all the differing viewpoints as well as communicate the needs and accomplishments of the district.
I have faith that the BOE can work as a team and find someone to keep Sachem going in a positive direction.
What ideas do you have to advance Sachem academically?
We have an amazing Assistant Superintendent, Erin Haynes who has been working diligently to bring higher academics and more graduation pathways into Sachem. I have confidence that she will continue to build upon the work she has done. She is highly confident, caring and motivated into making our district successful. Working with her and being a part of her committee has allowed me to have a voice that has been heard over the past two years. I would continue to reach out to her and see what would need improvement.
How would you approach the pandemic’s impact on schools, ranging from education to facility cleanliness?
We would need to hire more custodial staff and budget accordingly. There are companies that can come in and tell us where we fall short in the chemicals that we use and the way we clean. I would look to bring in one of these companies to see how we can ensure we can keep our children and staff safe and protected from all of these viruses that hit our kids.
With the economy in financial crisis and the potential for state aid to be reduced for Sachem, how would you approach identifying and implementing cuts or reduced services?
I would first see if we are getting our budget cut. I know there has been concern that we may lose 20% of our budget but we need to see if that is going to happen. I don’t think reducing the services a child needs will be helpful, or fair. I would have to sit with the board, the administration and the SCTA and we would all have to work together to see how we can come up with a solution that can work for everyone. There is no good answer beyond waiting and seeing what happens with our budget.
What experience do you have with collective bargaining and negotiating legacy and long-term contracts?
(Editor's note: no answer)
Have you attended a board meeting in-person during the past year (prior to the meetings moving virtually during the pandemic)?
I have been at nearly every board meeting for the past two years, nearly every committee meeting and I stay very involved in our school district. I want the best for all of our kids.
Have you served on any Sachem Board of Education committees in the past year? If yes, which ones and in what capacities?
I have served as a member of the Budget advisory committee, legislative committee, and Social and Emotional Learning committee.
Have you been involved in the district or community recently? Explain.
I am extremely active in our district with the Wenonah PTA, the Building leadership team, SPTA Counsel, and the committees I currently sit on.