Letter from Board Member Ron Schulhof:
Board of Education Responsibilities and Why I am Voting for Jessica and Jim
To the Editor: Jessica Resnick-Ault and Jim Dugan, the SBNC-nominated candidates, are my choices for the Board of Education.
The Board of Education has significant influence on the education of children in our community. Among its many important and impactful responsibilities, the Board establishes the District’s vision, sets District policies, is responsible for the Budget that funds every aspect of education in the District, and provides oversight of the Superintendent.
Board members are elected to bring about the best outcome for children’s education. At times this may mean supporting school district administration’s advice, but it may also mean challenging the administration to consider additional information or perspectives. In my view, Board members should exercise oversight with sensitivity, while at the same time engage in open discussions to reach the best result and inform the community about rationales behind decisions.
Under New York State law, the Board of Education is required to conduct board business in public; therefore Board discussions and deliberations are required to occur at the public meetings the community can attend or watch, with only a few limited exceptions. I believe it is part of the job of Board members, as elected officials, to engage in transparent and informative public discussions.
Throughout my years as a volunteer in Scarsdale, I have worked with community leaders and elected officials at all levels of government. I believe the most effective leaders are those that speak even when it is not easy, approach issues with an open mind, and are transparent with the community. They bring their energy to all issues before them and are approachable and accessible. They foster an open dialogue, even when there is disagreement, to ensure there is constructive engagement with all stakeholders.
I believe Jessica and Jim embody these qualities. They have each taken on impactful roles in the community. They have shown good judgement, possess strong qualifications for service on the School Board, and will bring a “yes we can” attitude. Jessica and Jim have focused on being available and accessible throughout the campaign, hosting meet-and-greets and attending numerous public events so community members could speak with them directly. They are transparent about who they are and have shown their willingness to discuss issues.
Jessica and Jim are fully committed to furthering our excellent schools through an accessible, transparent, and collaborative approach. I hope you will join me in voting for Jessica and Jim, the SBNC-nominated candidates, on May 18.
Note: The author is a member of the Scarsdale Board of Education, but this letter expresses the author’s individual views and not the opinion of or on behalf of the School Board.
To the Editor of Scarsdale10583:
I urge Scarsdale voters to support Jessica Resnick-Ault and Jim Dugan for school board. Our non-partisan system has nominated these two excellent candidates. The system, and each of these two candidates, deserves our vote.
We are blessed here in Scarsdale to have 100 years of excellent governance, anchored by our non-partisan nominating process. This year, as in years past, about 30 of our neighbors on the SBNC spent many hours confidentially vetting candidates. The committee chose two accomplished, community-minded volunteers in Jessica and Jim, and both have demonstrated their preparedness for this role right now. Jim and Jessica are committed to needed transparency and a devotion to inclusion and excellence. They have professional expertise to be stewards for our community values and responsible fiduciaries.
Just as important, our unique non-partisan system deserves our support and votes. Those of us who didn’t give up significant time vetting candidates can defer to the judgment of our elected neighbors who did. Rather than candidates who believe they are entitled to public office or complain the loudest that they know best for our schools and Village, the SBNC and CNC nominate candidates who can represent us all. Voting is always a leap of faith, but we see our non-partisan system working well, nominating independent, experienced leaders like Jim and Jessica, who are ready to serve.
If you want to improve our system, great. Run for CNC this Fall or SBNC this Winter. But now let’s come together and ratify our unique community process. Let’s reject entitlement, divisive voices and end vacuous signs littering our Village parks and public spaces. This election presents the opportunity to support a system that promotes excellence and volunteerism.
Vote for Jessica and Jim on May 18 because they will be great school board members and because the SBNC nominated them.
Former CNC voting member; 2019-20 CNC Chair
2 Oak Lane
In Strong Support of the Non-Partisan System – Jessica Ault-Resnick and James Dugan
My family moved to Scarsdale when I was 4 years old, I went on to attend Fox Meadow, graduating from SHS in 1997. My two siblings and I loved growing up here and benefit from the education that we received. I proudly moved back to raise my own family. My parents (who still live here) were consummate civic volunteers and instilled in me the value of the non-partisan system.
This system has served our community well for decades, In an unfortunate era of increasing hyper-partisanship, our system is an asset to our community, as it provides the space to assess and nominate candidates based on their qualifications/experience and not based on some rigid one size fits all criteria. Further it obviates the need to pander to certain constituencies, or pledge fealty to particular issues. The system fosters social cohesion amongst our community, by removing politics from our most sacred public institution, our schools. The confidentiality, that is the bedrock of the nominating process, allows for prospective candidates to experience a dignified vetting process. It is almost certain that every year not every member of the School Board Nominating Committee had their candidate(s) of choice nominated, but what is certain is that a democratic process, without the interference of partisanship, is serving our community well.
It is with this in mind that I hope the community will join me in voting for Jessica Ault-Resnick and Jim Dugan for the Board of Education. Embedded in everything the board undertakes is the responsibility of governance/oversight/accountability. Jessica’s professional training as an investigative reporter and Jim’s as a litigator provide them the foundation to excel in this role. They are both committed to greater transparency and collaboration with the community. They both have children currently in the school system, including the elementary level, which has been underrepresented on the board. Jim will have children in all three schools next year, giving him a unique vantage point for the issues facing our children. Jim sits on the Pro Bono committee at his law firm working on cases for the Innocence project, illustrating his commitment to use his extensive professional training to advocate for those who cannot advocate for themselves.
Through her performance as a board member and the type of campaign she has ran, Alison Singer does not deserve a second term. Alison has failed in her responsibility of governance/oversight/accountability, below I will give a few examples that are emblematic of this. She has remained silent during the majority of board deliberations on important topics, rendering irrelevant the supposed benefit of her experience. At the August 6th board of education meeting, with the community reeling and desperate for leadership, in absolutely tone-deaf commentary, she congratulated the district administration and board for a job well done. Her comments further fractured the relationship between the community and the teachers, many of which I spoke with firsthand. At the November 2nd board of education meeting, Alison advocated limiting public comment to just the end of board meetings, which would have eliminated the ability of the board to hear from the community before they voted. We need board members that are encouraging feedback from the community to aide in their decision making. Alison has displayed a callous indifference, exhibiting no empathy for what the community has endured. The two might not be linked, but she currently has no children in the our schools.
Her campaign and its surrogates have resorted to running a negative campaign, that has endeavored to delegitimize the non-partisan system by attacking the process, thus creating a distracting from the issues. Their premise is that the only possible explanation for Allison not being re-nominated is that the process is somehow broken. Maybe it was as simple as the committee thought that Jessica and Jim could better serve the community. To impugn a process and the volunteers that serve it is unbecoming of someone who wants to continue to represent our community and children.
Rob Tepper (her brother, who lives in Scarsdale), has written extremely derogatory comments on social media about another board member. While Alison is not responsible for his comments, it is her responsibility as a community leader to denounce bullying comments, that are inconsistent with the type of community we strive to maintain. Otherwise what type of example is she setting for our community and children? Surrogates of hers in an attempt to persuade me to vote for her, have excused her failings as the fault of Pam Fuehrer, saying that Alison didn’t agree with how Pam handled running the board, but didn’t feel comfortable disagreeing with her. Aside from lacking credibility, the problem with this, as a member of the board, no less its Vice President, what does it say about her ability to lead if she cannot speak up for what she believes.
With my family’s nearly 40 year presence in Scarsdale, I urge everyone in support of the non-partisan system and the quality of our children’s education to vote for Jessica and Jim.