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 Matthew Baumann.
If Baumann is elected, he 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.
Special Education Teacher at Ward Melville High School in Three Village CSD
Do you have children? Do they attend Sachem presently, or did they graduate from Sachem?
I have three children that have or do attend Sachem. My oldest son is Richard and he graduated in 2019 from East, my daughter is Olivia and she is currently in the tenth grade and my youngest son is Jacob and he is in the third grade.
Dowling, BS, Special Education
Dowling, MS, Secondary Education
Organizations and activities:
I have been a part of Brookhaven Country Day Camp since 1987 working as a Boating Specialist, Group Leader, assorted supervisory positions and for the last 15 years as the Director. I have coached boys and girls tennis for Three Village for six years totaling twelve seasons. I am the Advisor for DECA as well as the Patriot League, which are both clubs at Ward Melville High School. I have coached baseball and softball throughout the years on my two older children’s teams and I just completed my first season coaching basketball with my youngest child. I have been a martial arts instructor (mostly for children) for approximately 20 years and I have been a Red Cross Instructor for approximately 25 years. I have been an active parent with the Sachem school teams that my children have participated on including: football, basketball, volleyball, track, field hockey, softball, Arrowettes (middle school) and volleyball, basketball and tennis (high school).
I have lived in the Sachem School District twelve and a half years and my wife has grown up right in the same neighborhood that we live in today. I can honestly say that my children have had nothing but amazing, dedicated and talented teachers and coaches. I will always be grateful to them for always going far and beyond. I decided to run for the board of Education for a few reasons. I want to be a part of this amazing district that has done so much for my family already and continues to do so. I want to ensure that we find the right person for the vacant superintendent position. I want to make sure that when tough budgetary decisions are made, the interests of the students always comes first. I also want to make sure that the amazing teachers and coaches of Sachem are valued and heard. Without knowing what our schools will look like in September, we need to start making contingency plans whether we are back in the buildings or if we will be continuing distance learning. I have already been doing this for my camp and I have a very good sense of what it takes to accomplish this. As a special education teacher for 21 years, I want to make sure that our special education population is always included and considered when anything is discussed or decided in the boardroom. I can also bring fresh ideas from a highly respected special education program at Three Village. I would like to see most discussions and decisions made out in the open and less decisions made behind closed doors. All of this can only happen if we all work together as a team. I bring the education background, the special education background, the coaching background and the business background. I will be a champion for Sachem and its students, teachers and the community as a whole. I would appreciate your vote. I am proud that the SCTA has endorsed me for the Sachem Board of Education.
OnSachem asked readers to share questions they would like the candidates to address.
What attributes are you seeking for the new Superintendent for Sachem?
Our next superintendent should be someone that is planning to remain at Sachem for a reasonable amount of time. I want to see an honest, straight forward, strong, confident leader that will always lookout for the students best interests first, lookout for the teachers that do such an important job and listen to what the community is saying. I would like the next superintendent to have experience in negotiating contracts, collective bargaining and budgeting. I work in a district (Three Village CSD) where we have an amazing superintendent who is pro student, pro teacher and pro community and the results speak for themselves. I would like our next superintendent to have that kind of mindset, who also is an active member of the district, who visits the schools often and listens to the Sachem community.
What ideas do you have to advance Sachem academically?
I would advocate keeping class sizes down. I would support having a nine period day so that our students have the opportunity to take additional electives, AP classes, etc. I would look to have a credit bearing vocational work-study program that reaches out to the community and ensure that it included the special education students.
How would you approach the pandemic’s impact on schools, ranging from education to facility cleanliness?
It is too early to answer this question without knowing what the state’s guidelines will be. If remote learning continues, I feel we have to do a better job supporting our students and teachers. I have seen some parents complain that not all teachers use the same websites or programs to teach. The problem with them all using the same sites or programs are that what is good for teaching science may not be good for teaching English. It is something that we would have to look into and find some common ground that works for the student, the teacher and of course the parent who has to try to navigate these programs often without any formal training. With that said, this was thrown in everyone’s laps with no warning and I think everyone has done an amazing job considering. Somehow, we also have to look at how to support our students with special needs with remote learning. When we return to school, we will have to follow guidelines that the state will hand down and we will have to comply, it is that simple. Coming up with some grandiose plan right now would be pointless. We may very well have to be very creative with scheduling, block scheduling, alternating days, seating capacities in classrooms, lunch rooms, PE classes, the list cold go on and on.
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 look for wasteful spending such as an over-abundance of unnecessary positions that make a lot of money. The very last thing I would want to do is cut services or programs because that would hurt our students. Once we know what kind of state aid we are looking at, we can work on it together as a district. I also believe there are things we can do as a district that could generate income. In house vocational programs, we could save a ton of money by not sending students to BOCES, leasing our facilities to organizations that would pay larger amounts of money each night and that’s just a few ideas.
What experience do you have with collective bargaining and negotiating legacy and long-term contracts?
My experience with collective bargaining and such would be through the eyes of the teacher, although I certainly understand how it works. I am a taxpayer and I would want fairness to the residence as well as the employees. Running a multi-million dollar business gives me some insight on contracts and other business matters that would be an asset to the board.
Have you attended a board meeting in-person during the past year (prior to the meetings moving virtually during the pandemic)?
Yes, I have. I listen to most every meeting on audio.
Have you served on any Sachem Board of Education committees in the past year? If yes, which ones and in what capacities?
I have not served on any committees.
Have you been involved in the district or community recently? Explain.
I have been involved with the many Sachem teams that my children play on by working concession, helping with rides or just cheering in the stands. I have been a very active parent in the district and have always fully supported the schools and the staff.