Just because Sharon Bieselin is stepping down from her trustee position on the , doesn’t mean her community involvement will come to an end.
Bieselin, who spent nine years on the BOE, decided not to run for re-election this past May ( will be taking her place). But in an interview with Patch, she said residents will continue to see her helping out around town.
“As a young adult and young child, I never had a sense of community or family and living in West Islip and doing the volunteering that I did, I had the family and the community and it was a great opportunity for me,” she said. “It’s very important to me. It’s very heartwarming.”
Well before becoming a board member, Bieselin was involved with numerous volunteering and school district organizations in West Islip. One of her most gratifying efforts was a children’s garden she helped establish at . She taught kids how to plant and harvest seeds and then donated the resulting food to a soup kitchen in Bay Shore.
“It was a great experience,” she said. “I was happy to learn when I was at a Buildings and Grounds Committee meeting that there’s a high school club actually using that garden."
In addition, she was a long-standing member of the PTA when her children were going through the district. She attributed one of the reasons why she stepped down was the fact they’re no longer in the schools (her oldest son Michael is 27, daughter Amanda is 24, and youngest son Thomas is 22).
When asked about one her most notable accomplishments while on the BOE, she responded that she helped make public questioning possible at workshop budget meetings. She recalled how she’d have to call members after meetings to inquire about a certain issue.
“I would go to meetings and we were not allowed to ask questions,” she said. “So as soon as I got on the board, that was one of my main objectives, to put that in place.”
Steve Gellar, president of the board of education, said he has admired the way Bieselin has “devoted a lifetime to the children of West Islip.”
“Through contract negotiations, financial crises, political upheaval, and personal attacks, Sharon has handled herself with class and dignity and she has approached every issue with an open mind and always put the interests of the community first,” Gellar said. “It has been my great honor to serve with Sharon these past five years and while I will miss her, I thank her for all the years of dedication and hard work, and I wish her, Jeff, and their kids the very best."
Bieselin said she’ll continue to donate her time to the West Islip beautification Society (where she cares for the welcoming garden by Atlantis Diner) and at .
She mentioned that her concerns for the district going forward are the property tax cap (which was passed by New York lawmakers on Friday), more unfunded mandates and the possibility of shutting down an elementary school.
"I think that’s going to be a big challenge for the school district,” Bieslen said of a school potentially closing. “It will be interesting.”