Flores Seeks to Be Second Hispanic on Westbury School Board

Mateo Flores, who is running for a seat on the Westbury School District board. (Photo via La Tribuna Hispana)

Mateo Flores, director of the Hempstead location of the Economic Opportunity Commission of Nassau County, announced his decision to run for a seat on the board of the Westbury School District, the village where he resides, in the election scheduled for Tuesday, May 15.

Flores, who is Salvadoran American, told La Tribuna Hispana that his campaign represents his commitment to the school population of the Westbury district, which has low academic performance, to help its students graduate and tackle the next level in their education, whether it is a university or community college.

“The situation of students in Westbury is delicate. We have reports that only 23 percent of them show above-average academic performance. This means that more than 70 percent of them are under that level, putting children at a great disadvantage in their learning, a scenario I find troublesome. That is why I think it is necessary to take corrective measures,” said Flores, who went to high school in Westbury as a teen after arriving in the U.S. in the 1980s with his family.

Regarding other issues plaguing the district, Flores pointed to overcrowding in schools, saying that classrooms are saturated and that the number of students per class is not conducive to academic achievement.

“We have a total population of more than 5,000 students in our schools, most of them Hispanic, followed by African Americans, and also from the Asian community on a smaller scale. What we are proposing is to have additional funding approved to expand classrooms so students can study better within normal academic standards. There is no reason for this to signify increased property taxes for residents,” said Flores.

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More Latinos on the board

Out of the seven members who currently form the board of the Westbury School District, only one – Pedro Quintanilla – is Hispanic. The rest are African American.

“I think it is necessary to have more Latinos on the school board, where most members are African American. Two years ago, we supported this initiative and the result was the election of Pedro Quintanilla… and he is doing an excellent job. Now we want the community to be aware that it is important to take action to bring another Latino in to represent the interests of our students,” said Flores regarding his own campaign.

According to Flores, even though there is some enthusiasm among Latinos to participate in the election, most still lack awareness about its importance.

“We want to change our people’s mentality. That is why the Latino community needs to come out and vote and respond to the fact that we are a majority, which is not properly reflected at the moment. I am calling on our people to take responsibility for the education of our children and youths,” he said.

The Tuesday, May 15, vote will start at 6:00 a.m. and end at 9:00 p.m.

Mateo Flores is also the chair of the Nassau County Hispanic American Advisory Board (…). It was created under the administration of former County Executive Ed Mangano, who is currently being tried for corruption.

“The Nassau Hispanic Board is currently in the middle of a reorganization process, but we still believe that it is an excellent bridge between the county and the Latino community,” he said.

Flores added that, so far, they have met with new [Nassau County] Executive Laura Curran to let her know about the projects and events they have in store and that he will have more news soon.

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