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 Larry Collins.
Collins is presently a member of the school board and running for reelection. If Collins is reelected, he will be among nine members of the 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.
High School Special Education Teacher
Do you have children? Do they attend Sachem presently, or did they graduate from Sachem?
3 children. 6-year-old girl (Wenonah), 8-year-old boy (Wenonah), 12-year-old boy (Samoset)
LIU-CW Post (BA Geology)
SUNY Stony Brook (MA Liberal Studies)
SUNY Stony Brook (Educational Leadership Program/Advanced Graduate Certificate)
Organizations and activities:
I am a current trustee on the Sachem Board of Education and am actively involved in youth sports throughout the Sachem community. I coach football, lacrosse, and basketball for various community youth organizations.
My name is Larry Collins and I am a lifelong Sachem resident. I grew up in Holbrook and attended Nokomis, Seneca, Sachem South, and graduated from Sachem North High School. With over 17 years in education I bring a wealth of knowledge in education to the Sachem School Board. More recently, I participated in and graduated from the Stony Brook Educational Leadership Program. This program has trained me in all aspects of being a successful school building and school district leader. While my educational experiences and schooling have undoubtedly prepared me to make decisions in the best interest of our students and community, it is my growth as a parent that will without a doubt guide me to make decisions based on the welfare of our children. My only agenda is to help make Sachem the best it can be, for all members of our community, and I will do everything in my power to accomplish this goal. I believe strongly in educating the whole child by having the school district provide the necessary resources to meet the specific needs of every individual student. To do this, I will be a strong advocate for providing Sachem with all of the resources and programs that will meet or exceed the standards of New York State and of our neighboring districts. In conclusion, I look forward to having the opportunity to be a member of the Sachem Board of Education in order to help the Sachem School District be the best it can be for our students and community!
OnSachem asked readers to share questions they would like the candidates to address.
What attributes are you seeking for the new Superintendent for Sachem?
There are many traits that we must look for when seeking our next superintendent. First and foremost, the individual should be a proven successful leader in their current position. It is my belief that we should not appoint someone without them having prior successful school district level experience. Other important qualities of a successful school district leader are communication, work ethic, and the ability to motivate others.
What ideas do you have to advance Sachem academically?
I think that Sachem has come a long way in the past ten years. From my own observations with my children, technology and facilities have vastly improved. The enhancements we have seen and the ability to soon provide WIFI for our District will enable even more progress. We must continue to explore our options for a nine-period day and how it will enable us to increase our offerings to better support and facilitate the development of our students. As a school district in general, we must provide meaningful and ongoing professional development for our faculty and staff to support their growth as well.
How would you approach the pandemic’s impact on schools, ranging from education to facility cleanliness?
I have actually been finishing my educational leadership certification during this pandemic. My Stony Brook colleagues and myself are in constant discussion about what is going on in our own schools, and what steps we need to take in the future. I’m only allowed 200 words per response or I could write pages on this topic! I just reviewed a 22-page re-opening document from an upstate BOCES that was very informative and comprehensive. In regard to academics, our first step must be to evaluate what was lost as a result of the pandemic. Understanding the needs of our students is paramount when coming up with a plan going forward. I think that we all can agree that our current distance learning model is not the solution. We must have the ability to safely have our students, faculty, and staff get back to face-to-face learning. The safety of everyone involved must always be at the forefront of our decisions.
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 am extremely thankful that Sachem is currently in a positive financial situation in regard to our reserves. Unfortunately, New York State has been very vague and has not given us any definitive answers in regard to the cuts we will see. According to the most recent budget projections, Sachem should be in a solid financial position to not have to make any major reductions in services or cuts. If there was a time when cuts needed to be made or services reduced, the discussions must be transparent and all members of the school district (teachers, faculty, staff, community) must be part of the process.
What experience do you have with collective bargaining and negotiating legacy and long-term contracts?
The only experiences I have with collective bargaining are with the school district I work for and discussing the various contracts up for negotiation while a member of the Sachem Board of Education this year.
Have you attended a board meeting in-person during the past year (prior to the meetings moving virtually during the pandemic)?
I did not miss a meeting while serving as a trustee on the Board.
Have you served on any Sachem Board of Education committees in the past year? If yes, which ones and in what capacities?
Have you been involved in the district or community recently? Explain.
I have been very fortunate to serve on the Sachem Board of Education for the last year. It has been an amazing experience and my hope is that I can continue in the same capacity for another term. I think that I bring a wealth of educational experience to the Board and can help to be a voice for the community. I have also coached teams in the various community youth organizations over the past 8 years.