Friday, Jun 02nd

Letter: Scarsdale Deserves a School Board that Listens to the Community

JeremyGansJeremy GansFollowing an incredibly difficult school year, it is clear that our community deserves change and fresh voices on the School Board. After vetting all four candidates in this year’s race, the School Board Nominating Committee nominated Jim Dugan and Jessica Resnick-Ault. They are clearly the best candidates and they deserve your vote. Jessica and Jim are diligent, extremely bright and have histories of advocating and otherwise engaging in school-related activities for the benefit of all of our schoolchildren.

I have read a number of letters in support of Ms. Singer saying that she deserves a second term because an effective Board needs continuity and experience in order to best function. Based on the community’s experience this year, do you believe that our current school board has functioned well? A well functioning school board listens to the community. The current Board did not. An effective Board understands that it represents the community that elected its members. Pamela Fuehrer, the current President of the Board stated that the School Board “represents the teachers and administration.” While a school board must, of course, consider the perspectives of teachers and administrators, the School Board does not “represent” the teachers. Teachers are represented by their union and are technically adverse to the Board during many negotiations. Ms. Singer, the current Vice President, did not correct this erroneous statement.

An effective Board does not silence its own members when those members attempt to discuss issues brought to them by the community. The current Board did this on multiple occasions. An effective Board asks questions of its superintendent and the administration. And, most importantly, an effective Board finds ways to get to “yes.” An effective Board would have prioritized safety but also would have done what it needed to do to increase the amount of in-person school this year. Our peer districts found a way. We did not, due to a lack of leadership by Ms. Singer and others, at the Board level.

Would a well-functioning Board remove itself from participation in the development of the crucial District Strategic Plan, that should be grounded in the Board’s vision for the community? This is a key responsibility of a school board under New York State and national school board policy. Yet our own Board, including Ms. Singer, evidently wanted no part of it.

In light of these failures, it should come as no surprise that Ms. Singer was not re-nominated by the School Board Nominating Committee.

Irin Israel deserves credit for his FOIL requests and the diagrams presented to the Board during the year. Mr. Israel will hopefully continue to be a voice for our children at meetings going forward. He is not, however, one of the two best candidates at this point in time.

Jessica Resnick-Ault and Jim Dugan did not wait for a once in a generation pandemic to advocate for our school children. They have been doing so for years and have the results to back it up. They may not be as active on social media and they may not yell at the administration at Board meetings. But they have effectively improved the educational experience for all Scarsdale students, something Mr. Israel cannot say.

Scarsdale parents, students and taxpayers deserve a School Board that listens to the community and serves all stakeholders to ensure our district is providing the best holistic educational experience possible. Jessica Resnick-Ault and Jim Dugan are the only two candidates in this race with the dedication, experience and skills to do so. Please vote for Jim and Jessica on Tuesday, May 18.

Jeremy Gans
45 Harvest Drive

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