In the Florida Free Union School District, voters are being asked on Tues., May 16 to approve the proposed $21,231,803 budget, an increase of 1.77 percent over last year’s budget $20,988,961 and a 2.0 percent increase in the tax levy, for the 2017-18 school year. One seat on the school board for a three-year term will be voted on. Running for the seat are Howard Cohen and Matthew Mulhare. Polls will be open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. at S.S. Seward Institute, located at 53 North Main St. in the Village of Florida.
These are challenging times for public education and experienced leadership is a vital asset. I believed that I can provide extensive experience for the residents of the Florida Union Free School District as a member of the Board of Education.
One board member cannot change a District’s fortunes by himself or herself and is only one of five members. Discussion, compromise and dealing with difficult or unpopular decisions can be a part of being a school board member. In my career, I’ve experienced school annexation proposals, austerity/contingency budgets, midyear state revenue reductions, unfunded mandates, collective bargaining impasses and numerous lawsuits.
As a current member of the Village of Florida Planning Board for the past 18 years, I have learned how to interact with my fellow members and deal with issues that will impact the community. The decision to seek this position was one that I reached after hours of thought.
In 36 years of service in the District, I worked closely with school boards and administrators in developing and funding budgets, several capital projects and other initiatives. I have also been involved in contract negations, procurements of supplies, equipment and services and dealing with numerous State and local agencies.
Florida has three buildings, including the Seward Memorial Building, and I have spent time in all of them. I attended school in Florida, as did both of my daughters and many members of my father’s family. In my times as a student and later as an employee, I have seen Florida grow from a single building District housing all grades to today’s modern school buildings.
As a school board member, I would work with my fellow board members to advance the District goals, provide the best curriculum and instructional support for all students, maintain the facilities and keep the Florida community proud of its schools. While the two percent tax cap has provided much needed relief to taxpayers throughout the State, I would continue to get the most out of every dollar in the budget. I would also seek to provide a multiyear contract to the teaching and support staffs. Salaries and benefits are a significant portion of any District’s budget and a long term settlement would permit proper planning for subsequent years by the District.
The District may also be challenged in the next year by the expiration of the primary transportation contracts and preparations for possible replacements may be in order. Capital projects can be expensive initially, but actually can be cost-effective in providing district-wide maintenance and upgrades spread over a number of years, rather than significantly one budget year.
In conclusion, I urge all voters to approve the District’s proposed budget on May 16 and put the stigma of a contingency budget in the past. The focus for the future needs is the education of our children. I also ask for your support of my school board candidacy and I will do my best to maintain your trust.
Matthew J. Mulhare
My name is Matthew Mulhare and I am running for a seat on the Florida Union Free School District Board of Education. I have lived in Orange County almost all my life and settled in Florida about 16 years ago with my wife, Vera. We have three children all in the Florida School District and they all enjoy the feeling of our small district and the faculty that teaches them.
I am running for the Florida School Board to join the present board with the challenging work they do for all the students and faculty that make our District so special. In short I will work hard to help with the continued success of the present board and to you – the taxpayers who support me.
Thank you for the honor of your consideration for the position and please come out and vote on May 16 at S.S. Seward.