Sunday, May 15, 2016

CCSD Board of Education Election 2016 Follow-Up

The Examiner article, linked here, resulting from the questions posed to the candidates  has been published.

For my complete answers, see my previous post here.  In the Examiner article, my opponent, new comer Rhonda Kaufman, seemingly endorses the school board, the direction in which the district is heading, the budget, the bond and everything else about the CCSD.  I can only take it as a ringing endorsement of the sitting board.  Thank you Rhonda for your endorsement.  Thank you for the good things you had to say about the district.

Here is a copy of the full text of my opening and closing statements from the League of Women Voters Candidate Night:

Opening Statement:
I would like to thank the League of Women Voters for sponsoring and arranging this debate, everyone in the audience for participating and my fellow candidates.
It has been said that one definition of a volunteer is someone who didn’t understand the question. This is my fourth time running for the Board of Ed and I know what it takes.

When I first ran for the Board, I was warned about the time commitment and the incredible learning curve.  I was warned about the volumes of reading, the additional committee work and the public scrutiny.  I can safely say that no amount of warning prepared me for the reality of being a board member.

Being a Chappaqua school board member is not a ceremonial position.  It is not something that you can show up to when it is convenient.   There are only five of us and we are all expected to be prepared and to participate.

For the past nine years I have worked tirelessly on behalf of the members of this community.  The role demands a person with a passion for education.  It requires a person with an extensive and detailed knowledge of the district, a complete understanding of the budget and the structural budget issues the district faces, a person who can make practical and reasoned decisions, a person who is flexible and can build consensus, a person who can balance competing community interests, and a person with vision and conviction.  It is recognizing we have a fiduciary obligation to all the tax payers, not just the ones with students in the schools.

I am quite sure that all three candidates will agree tonight that the major challenge facing the district and the Board in the next 3 years is finding a way to maintain academic excellence while continuing to exhibiting fiscal discipline and responsibility.

With respect to that, I point to the previous 8 year’s budgets.  For the fifth year in a row we will not exceed the tax cap.  In fact, this year there is ZERO increase to the tax levy, yet we have maintained or expanded our core programs at all three levels of the district.  We continue to be highly ranked both within the state and nationally by countless publications.  Going forward, I will continue to work for ALL members of the community to reach responsible budgets.  I will continue to support openness and transparency. 

I also believe that experience plays an important role in being a successful Board Member. Intimately knowing the district, its policies and practices, having a good working relationship with both your fellow Board members and the administration, understanding NY State Ed law, NYS rules and regulations is a material positive attribute to bring to the table.  I have experience and a track record.  I proudly stand behind it.

As a candidate, I uniquely offer the community my experience, knowledge, district expertise, and time. I offer consensus building skills, concrete suggestions and practical solutions.

I offer common sense with an uncommon commitment.

Closing Statement:
Again, I would like to thank the League of Women Voters, the community and my fellow candidates. 

I’m glad that I had the opportunity to talk about my experience as a Board member, my years of service and all of our accomplishments. Even Rhonda has publicly acknowledged that the Board has produced a good budget, that the bond makes sense from both what is in it and how to pay for it, she supports turf, and she thinks the district is on the right path academically.  For that I thank her.

Our school district serves our children, but we cannot ignore our role in the community. I never have. The strength of our schools is a direct function of our property values.  

The community needs to have the proper balance between fiscal austerity and maintaining our academic excellence in order to support the premise on which our community rests.  I continue to be unwavering in my belief that the community we serve is the broader community of not just parents with children in the schools, but residents without school children too. 

I applaud Rhonda for running, but I believe that any candidate should not run on a platform of change for change’s sake. Rhonda said she brings new ideas, yet she has presented none of that.

And if Rhonda believes that the board is homogeneous in thinking, she clearly hasn’t been to very many meetings. As anyone who had attended our meetings or even watched them on TV knows, I am on more sides of a 4-1 vote than I care to remember. 

I offer not just rhetoric but actionable suggestions.   I offer nine years of direct experience and a deep knowledge of district programs and personnel.  I offer leadership and consensus building skills. 

I offer common sense with an uncommon commitment.

Thank you.

Experience matters.

Common Sense with an Uncommon Commitment.

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