Friday, May 24th

Leah Dembitzer's Next Step: The Scarsdale Board of Education

LeahDembitzerPT Council President, President of the SMS PTA and President of the League of Women Voters are just a few of the volunteer roles held by Leah Dembitzer during her 15 years in Scarsdale. Now she has set her sights on the Board of Education and has been nominated by the School Board Nominating Committee to serve. With an election coming up on Tuesday May 21, Dembitzer answered some questions about why she would like to serve and what she hopes to do as a member of the Board.

Why did you volunteer to run for the Board of Education?

I decided to run because I love the Scarsdale Schools. The schools are the center of our community and my children have grown and been inspired, challenged and supported throughout their years in the schools. I have been involved as a volunteer in the school community since my high school junior was in kindergarten at Quaker Ridge. As a parent, I see there are so many complex issues affecting and impacting our children. I want to work toward preserving and enhancing the student experience and help to support our school community as it continues to evolve and move forward during these challenging and pivotal times.

What do you see as some of the important issues facing the Scarsdale Public Schools today?

That’s a great question. There are so many complex issues at play in the world around us. For Scarsdale, after watching the budget process this cycle, I really think future budget planning is essential. I would imagine that much will be brought forward and discussed during the roll-out of Dr. Patrick’s strategic plan later this spring but a focus on communicating and bringing the community along in the process of identifying and advancing our shared goals and values is essential work. The school buildings themselves need care, maintenance and innovation. We have a potential bond coming up that may include needed capital projects. Thoughtful planning for the build-out and strategic maintenance of our core programs. Keeping an eye on student mental health and wellness; supporting the growth and development of the whole child with ongoing opportunities for enrichment and exploration. There is so much happening at almost hyper-speed in our complex world, like technology innovations, artificial intelligence, the impact of social media on our children, creating space for civil discourse, and the effects of climate change on our community. These are all important issues facing the Scarsdale Schools.

What about your past volunteer activities qualifies you to be on the Board?

I didn’t know when I moved to Scarsdale 15 years ago that I would find so much joy and edification in the volunteer world. Our community is really special with regard to volunteer participation and the level of professionalism and expertise brought forward. We have such a talented, diverse and creative community. I’ve really enjoyed getting to know so many people through various volunteer experiences. I’ve served as President of the Quaker Ridge PTA, President of the Scarsdale Middle School PTA, and I’m finishing my term as PT Council President. I have chaired the School Budget portfolio for the League of Women Voters Scarsdale and served as President of the League of Women Voters Scarsdale as well. I’ve chaired Young Writers’ Workshop and currently co-chair an incredible program called Running and Winning for the League of Women Voters Westchester. I’ve also served on the Board of Westchester Reform Temple and have done a lot of volunteer work there as well. I really enjoy learning about the schools and being part of the energy and work to move our school community forward during these complex times. I’ve had a lot of experience, through my PTA and PTC work, on district-level committees. Several of my volunteer roles have focused on community and youth engagement, advocacy, civics education, and creating space for student voice.

At this point in my volunteer career, I have knowledge of and experience with school-related issues and understand the importance of engaging the community-at-large. If elected, I will listen, learn, bring questions forward, lean into my strong collaborative and consensus-building skills, and emphasize thoughtful decision-making in my Board work.

What do you hope to accomplish if you are elected as a member of the BoE? Or maybe: What compelled you to want to become a member of the BoE?)

I think that one of the essential roles of the Board is to help facilitate a connection between the community and administration; creating space for input, feedback and clear communication. I hope to develop and strengthen aspects of community engagement. I also hope to use my experience and skills to support the work of educating and empowering our district’s students to meet the challenges of this complex world: to be critical thinkers, thoughtful collaborators and confident leaders.

The Scarsdale Schools’ Budget Vote and Board Election will take place on Tuesday, May 21 at the Scarsdale Middle School Gym, 7am - 9pm.

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