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YESThis is the opinion of Scarsdale10583 site founder Joanne Wallenstein:

Like many of you, I have been carefully considering who to vote for in the election for Scarsdale School Board on Tuesday May 18. However, unlike most of you, as editor of Scarsdale10583, I watched all of this year’s lengthy Board of Education meetings in their entirety. I came away with some general impressions that are top of mind as I weigh my options.

First, I was struck by the high degree of community involvement and passion. With many children experiencing remote learning and our school buildings closed, it was indeed a crisis and our educated and informed parents had insights to share.

But rather than welcome community involvement, my general impression was that the comments and emails to the Board were viewed as an annoyance. The Board strove to limit speaking time, offered pat responses to emails and refused to invite residents with relevant professional experience to participate in the restart process. What a shame! By inviting community participation, the Board could have built consensus and won the confidence of distressed parents.

Second, I was appalled to watch members of the Board of Education silence one of their own who wanted to make a statement. He was accused of “playing to the crowd and grandstanding.” The Board President barred him from speaking based on a decision about board protocol made in a closed meeting. Take a look at what happened here, beginning at 12:49 minutes into the board meeting  October 5, 2020 meeting:

Sadly – in my experience – this was not the first time the Board of Education has reacted this way. A few years ago the administration and the board used similar tactics to squash input on the Greenacres Elementary School. When the building committee on which I served posed too many questions, the administration disbanded the committee. Unable to obtain historical records I filed a FOIL request to learn more about the state of the original building. I waited months for a response, and in the end, received reports that were so redacted that they were impossible to read. When I asked teachers questions about the mold that had plagued the building, I got a phone call from the head of the teachers union telling me not to speak to the faculty. It only served to raise my suspicions that something was being covered up.

Consequently, it was no surprise to me when high levels of lead and Legionella bacteria were detected in the district’s water supply this year, requiring the use of temporary lead filters on many district water sources. The district spent millions on repairs and built five cafeterias that the community had not requested. Yet funds were not available to replace lead pipes, address the dirt foundation underlying the Greenacres School or expand classrooms sized well below current standards.

Was I thanked by the community for attempting to get to the bottom of these environmental and structural issues? No, to the contrary, many in the community vilified me. I was attacked on social media and grew fearful of my neighbors. Since that time I have been reluctant to take a stand on community issues and elections.

However, this year we received many eloquent letters on the upcoming election that ultimately convinced me how to vote and have given me the courage to speak out. After considerable deliberation, I have decided to back the two candidates nominated by the School Board Nominating Committee. In the end, I think it’s important to remember that these candidates were selected by 30 community members who were democratically elected by you the voters. They are your representatives.

When considering the candidates, the committee put them through a process similar to a rigorous job search, speaking to their references, looking at their past experiences and interviewing the candidates themselves.

The SBNC represents the will of the community at large. In deliberating, they consider the current composition of the Board and what members with particular professional backgrounds and skills may be needed at this point in time. After lengthy discussions they selected Jim Dugan and Jessica Resnick Ault as the best people to serve the entire community.

Many of your letters to the site informed my thinking that a seasoned journalist and an experienced litigator would increase transparency and accountability.

Here are excerpts from just a few of the letters that we posted:

Jon LemleJLemle

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.

Felicia Block

To those that have sat in the room before me, thank you. To those that sat in that room with me, I am forever grateful for the time we shared and am honored to know you. And to those that sat in a virtual room this year, you had a difficult task and I appreciate you.

Felicia BlockIf you have not yet served on the SBNC, you may be surprised to see the amount of time I am giving to lift up the members of the SBNC. The reason is simple. I support the candidates that they have brought forward this year, because I know the time and care that was taken to select Jessica Resnick-Ault and Jim Dugan for election to the Scarsdale Board of Education by the SBNC.

Michelle Sterling

In times of challenge, we see the mettle of our leaders – hardship shines a light on them. Our elected SBNC members have nominated Jessica and Jim, two outstanding candidates who will make their voices heard in support of the best education for our children, and who have a clear understanding that they are our elected representatives. I urge you to vote for Jim and Jessica on May 18 for our Board of Education.

Jeremy Gans

An effective Board does not silence its own members when those members attempt to discuss issues brought to them by the JeremyGanscommunity. 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 ….. 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.

Diane Greenwald

Diane2In this year derailed by a global pandemic, some might wonder if the SBNC’s disregard for previous school board ‘experience’ is an overreaction to a contentious year. The pandemic is certainly not the fault of our schools and Alison Singer, now challenging to get her seat back, is claiming her board experience is critical.

Having served on the SBNC in the past, I imagine the committee deliberated carefully about all of the candidates. The decision seems neither a careless mistake nor is it simply reactionary to the Covid-crisis. SBNC should not ‘rubber stamp’ any candidate – and they didn’t. Instead, after weighing values, records, character, and skills, the SBNC offers two balanced and energetic nominees, Jim and Jessica.

The election will be held Tuesday May 18 from 7am to 9 pm at Scarsdale Congregational Church, 1 Heathcote Road, Scarsdale. Exercise your right to vote.

DivorceDivorce Mediator and Attorney Lori Greene offers the following tips to those contemplating a divorce:

Divorce does not happen overnight. Marriages break down over time for many different reasons. One of the most common triggers is difficulty working through financial stress/pressure together, which can then lead to one or both spouses becoming depressed and wanting to escape. How do people escape? Sometimes they abuse drugs and alcohol, have extra-marital affairs, or work more and more, spending less quality time at home. All these practices destroy the marital bond and connectedness over time.

That is not to say people that wealthy people are immune from relationship breakdowns. Many of my divorce mediation clients are couples with substantial net worth, yet their marriages still deteriorated over time. Sometimes a spouse may fall victim to “mid-life crisis” and engage in activities that are destructive to the marriage. A lot of couples unhappily stick it out together until they hit the “empty nest” phase, like Bill and Melinda Gates, who are now separating after 27 years of marriage.

So how do you best prepare yourself, no matter what your age or financial situation may be, if you think you might be headed for divorce in the future? Below are 5 critical ways to get yourself ready:

1. Budget for Separating- Often in a marriage one person is much more knowledgeable about the family finances than the other. If finances aren’t your strong suit, take the time to educate yourself and become familiar with the monthly expenses/debts (as compared to the income flowing in). There are budget worksheets you can obtain from professionals in the divorce field that will help you figure out what you may be able to afford after separating from your spouse.

2. Know Your Assets and Debts- Cars, real estate, and retirement accounts are just a few examples of valuable assets that may have been acquired during your marriage. Learn the values of these assets, with the help of appraisers or other experts, to get a sense of your “net worth”. Keep in mind that the marital assets and debts would be split equitably (not necessarily equally) according to New York Law. A consultation with a knowledgeable family law attorney can provide insight about asset and debt distribution in your case.

3. Decide Who Moves Out- Once you are comfortable with the financial aspects of divorcing, start planning for the next step, like who will eventually move out. This can be one of the hardest decisions, especially when young children are involved. Before making a final decision regarding house sales and moving out it is a good idea to consult with a divorce lawyer. You will want to preserve your legal rights, protect your property interest, and limit any personal liability before moving out.

4. Work out a Parenting Plan- When children are involved, it is often helpful to work with a family therapist, divorce mediator, or other professional who can help you come up with a parenting plan that works for your situation. There is no “one size fits all” parenting arrangement. Most important is to be realistic, practical, and sensitive to the needs and interests of all involved, especially those of the children.

5. Find Positive Outlets to Reduce Stress- Going through divorce is an anxiety provoking time. People tend to retreat, isolate themselves from others, and can become depressed. The best way to stay healthy and connected is to confide in family, close friends, and others that you trust, and lean on them. Work out, meditate, or engage in activities that will make you stronger both physically and mentally.

Most important, the stress of going through the divorce will be reduced substantially if you plan and are prepared long before your spouse says: “I want a divorce.” Trust your intuition for warning signs, and educate yourself, so you can make thoughtful decisions that meet your needs and interests.

LoriGreeneGreene says, “Yes, I am an attorney, but this article does not create an attorney-client relationship. This is legal information but should not be seen as legal advice. Consult with an attorney and a financial planner regarding your specific situation and goals.”

Lori Greene, JD, graduated cum laude from Brooklyn Law School and received her undergraduate degree, with distinction and high honors, from Tufts University. She is a certified mediator and an attorney, licensed to practice law in New York, with over 20 years of combined legal and business experience. Lori’s broad range of experience and skills include: complex family law matters, insurance coverage disputes, and commercial litigation cases, allowing her to skillfully assist clients in resolving all of their business and legal issues involved with divorce. Learn more here.

magnoliasLetter to the Editor from Diane Greenwald:
For the second time in recent memory, Scarsdale’s School Board Nominating Committee (SBNC) has forgone tradition by not renominating a sitting school board member for a second term. Instead, the SBNC nominated Jessica Resnick-Ault and Jim Dugan, both dedicated volunteers and highly credentialed community members, with children in the District.

I enthusiastically support Jessica and Jim as a dynamic slate. Jessica, a journalist, and Jim, a litigator, each bring valuable professional abilities to the board. They can frame problems; seek and research input; navigate opposing views; develop thoughtful positions; and persuasively communicate rationales. Their collective experience seems tailor-made for the moment.

In this year derailed by a global pandemic, some might wonder if the SBNC’s disregard for previous school board ‘experience’ is an overreaction to a contentious year. The pandemic is certainly not the fault of our schools and Alison Singer, now challenging to get her seat back, is claiming her board experience is critical.

Having served on the SBNC in the past, I imagine the committee deliberated carefully about all of the candidates. The decision seems neither a careless mistake nor is it simply reactionary to the Covid-crisis. SBNC should not ‘rubber stamp’ any candidate – and they didn’t. Instead, after weighing values, records, character, and skills, the SBNC offers two balanced and energetic nominees, Jim and Jessica.

Each SBNC member has a vote that they cast privately; only Jim and Jessica earned the confidence of the majority of the committee. We will not know what vetting revealed, but I will trust the outcome of the confidential non-partisan system, designed to provide dignity to participants if not selected, something campaigns cannot promise.

Besides Alison, a newcomer, Irin Israel, is also mounting a last-minute campaign. Considering the SBNC nominated two qualified citizens, it is unfortunate to see such challenges. It is of course their right, but is a contested election really in the best interest of our community, a place in need of healing?

Jim and Jessica shine! With their commitment to Scarsdale’s educational excellence, we are not in danger of board failure when Jess and Jim each join on. On the other hand, a four-way contested election is confusing, consuming of resources, and inherently divisive. We are seeing campaign-driven behaviors that seem to defy good local practice and will make it harder for residents to trust our systems and district leadership. This does not feel like action for the greater good and frankly, an election distracts us from much needed attention on children’s learning and teaching.

In the future, the board could explore an internal policy solution for their leadership development, perhaps create one 5-year Board term (per Section 2503) to extend service without undermining time-honored processes. Meanwhile, the SBNC did their job fairly. And they got it just right.

Ms. Singer deserves genuine gratitude for her service and Mr. Israel can advocate and volunteer in many other ways, but Jim Dugan and Jessica Resnick-Ault deserve your vote on Tuesday, May 18.

Regardless of your views about the Non-Partisan System, Jessica and Jim are the balanced leadership we seek as a community, the voices for our school’s future. Let’s give the excellent SBNC nominees a chance to serve our children and community on the Board of Education.

Learn more about the Jim and Jessica here:

Respectfully submitted,

Diane Greenwald
Oak Lane

braceletsMother’s Day is Sunday May 9, and this year you can shop local to find gifts and food for Mom and support our retail community. Take a look at a few suggestions for Mom from local merchants and share your ideas in the comments section below:

I Am More Scarsdale

Treat Mom to the hottest clothing, accessories and jewelry from I Am More on Spencer Place in Scarsdale Village. Shop for these gifts and more fashionable items she’ll love:

Statement Earrings: Handmade embroidered and beaded earrings. The perfect finishing touch to any outfit! (Retail $40-$98)

Bandana Beach Bags and Clutches: Impermeable beach bags and clutches made in a special way to flatten up when travel packing. (Clutches $125, Totes $200)handkerchiefbags

Karen Lazar Bracelets: Karen Lazar’s 14k gold-filled bracelets are versatile and can be dressed-up or dressed-down. They look amazing with a watch, bracelet, or in a stack, and they can feel both bohemian and classic. The bracelets also give women that opportunity for a quick fix—something new and shiny that you can add to your existing collection. (Retail $48-$210)

earrings

I Am More Scarsdale
6 Spencer Place
Scarsdale
(914) 723-6673
Iammorescarsdale.com

Current Home

Current Home in the Golden Horseshoe Shopping Center stocks contemporary and novel gifts that say “I Love You.” Find these gifts and much more in their Mother’s Day gift guide here.

Let mom know she is MOST LOVED this Mother's Day. This super soft monogrammed machine washable throw will make her think of you every time she looks at it or wraps herself up when relaxing at home. Three color options: Blue with ivory lettering, taupe with ivory lettering or ivory with grey lettering. Machine washable. $190mostloved

Butterfly Porcelain Catch-all Tray: This cheerful tray features art by internationally renowned fine art photographer, Gray Malin. The porcelain catch-all trays are perfect decorative objects for home and the perfect gift for mom. Made of porcelain with gold edges. $40

butterflytrayCurrent Home
1096 Wilmot Road, Scarsdale
NYC: 1189 Lexington Avenue, New York, NY
www.currenthomeny.com

Scentfluence Aroma Design Studio on Harwood Court has scentsational gifts for every Mom. Stop in to sample their curated custom scents that will freshen home environments, delight and inspire. For Mother’s Day, be sure to sample Lavender Leaves, Verbena and Bergamot. Or if Mom is a nature lover, bring the green inside with winter pine, rosemary or mint focus. There’s a scent for every home and business along with a full line of scent diffusers to atomize your scent. It’s an original gift that’s sure to please.

Scentfluence
22 Harwood Courtscentfluencephoto
Scarsdale
(914) 338-5070
www.scentfluence.com

Apiary Café at Scarsdale Library has a special Mother’s Day Menu available for pre-orders. Chef Joerg is making it easy to make mom feel extra special with close family and friends! They have curated exciting options to tantalize your taste buds and to enjoy a delicious Mother’s Day themed menu!

Treat the family to creamy lemo parmesan chicken, mango salsa grilled halibut, herbed ricotta and fresh tomato tart and lots more.

See the full menu here:

UnknownAll Mother’s Day specials are pre-order only and orders must be placed by May 4th at 5:30 pm.

Place your order by calling Apiary at (914) 834-3572. Pick up at the Larchmont location or request delivery.

Apiary at the Library
54 Olmsted Road
Scarsdale, NY
(914) 834-3574
https://www.apiarylarchmont.com/scarsdalelibrary

 

Add your Mother's Day gifts to our guide by emailing us at Scarsdalecomments@gmail.com.

 

AlisonSingerAlison Singer, the current Vice President of the Scarsdale Board of Education, is completing three years of service in June, 2020. She is running as an independent candidate for a second term. Below find responses to our questions about her experience, the Board's management of the COVID crisis and why she would like to serve another term.

Why are you running for the Board of Education? How do you complement the Board and its work?

The Board is deliberately composed of people with distinct knowledge and capabilities. My experience on the board has focused on enhancing student mental health, wellness and academic achievement, supporting our outstanding faculty, developing new policies (including those for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, and student and faculty harassment and bullying prevention) and ensuring that our special education families have a strong voice. Over the past three years I have developed trusted relationships with our administration and faculty, have gained tremendous knowledge about school budgeting, teacher union negotiations and facilities planning, and have worked hard to ensure the physical and emotional safety of our students and faculty. These are essential skills for the Board and district as we continue to implement our new Strategic Plan, work on new DEI initiatives, and engage in long-term financial and capital improvement planning.

On a more personal note, the experiences my two daughters had in Scarsdale schools were hugely influential in my decision to run three years ago and are again now. My oldest daughter Jodie was diagnosed with autism when she was two and so we experienced just about all the special education programs in the district. My younger daughter Lauren graduated in 2017 and benefited from all the district has to offer, from AT classes to debate team to the High School's incredible Science Research program, and, thanks to her outstanding high school preparation, in May she will graduate from Yale. Every student’s and every family’s experience is unique, but I believe that having experienced Scarsdale from these two very different vantage points gives me a particularly valuable view of our school programs. To me, Scarsdale is about personalized learning; it’s about creating programs that serve all our students from those who experience academic difficulties and have special needs to those who are high achievers. I want to continue to serve on the Board to ensure that all students in Scarsdale have access to a superior education that will enable them to thrive and become engaged and active citizens, as I believe both my children have.

In addition, I believe the combination of the skills and experience I have gained as School Board Vice President, in my professional work, as a member of several boards, and as a community volunteer make me particularly well-suited to serving for a second term on the Board of Education. There is a steep and long learning curve to board work, and my experience has enabled me to mentor new board members. This system of mentorship is critical to the success and long-term strength of the governing team. Veterans are needed to provide institutional memory, answer questions, and provide guidance. Professionally, I am the founder and president of the Autism Science Foundation, a global nonprofit that provides support for autism research and for families raising children with special needs. In addition to my service on the Board of Education, I also serve and have served on many policymaking boards, including the federal Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee, to which I was appointed by the Secretary of Health and Human Services, as well as on local disabilities boards, including the Westchester Autism Advisory Council and the New York State Immunization Advisory Council. My past jobs have included serving as the first CEO of Autism Speaks, and as Vice President at NBC Cable and Business Development. I have had a lot of experience creating budgets for large and small companies, for nonprofits and for-profits, in good times and in lean years. As a news producer at NBC, I learned about the importance of communication and of keeping people informed about what is going on in their community. At NBC I was also involved in collective bargaining sessions with multiple unions. I have an undergraduate degree in economics from Yale and an MBA from Harvard Business School and am very comfortable with financial statements, budgets, performance review paradigms, and working with consultants, auditors, and attorneys. Last May, I received an honorary doctorate degree from Emory University for my work in children’s mental health.

What did you enjoy about the last three years and what do you hope to accomplish in the next three years?

I’m not sure anyone actually “enjoyed” the last year. We all lost control over our own lives and our children’s lives because of Covid-19. As the mother of a special needs child, I understand first-hand how scary it can be to feel like some committee or some administrator could make a decision that you think will negatively affect your child. I try to always remind myself that this fear, which often ends up being expressed as anger, is really coming from a place of love--love for our children, and fear that someone or some group is empowered to make decisions that could hurt them. I live with this every day, and I understand the community’s frustration with all the events of the past year.

The Board's and administration’s challenge this year was to try to take the strong emotions off the table and focus on the facts and on what was best for the FULL community, including all the very diverse and divergent parent perspectives, while also incorporating teacher viewpoints, student voices, baffling New York State Dept of Education regulations, and Westchester County and New York State Health department regulations. Our goal was to have as much in person school as could be done so safely. The availability of vaccines was a game changer and as a Board, together with other NY school boards, we successfully lobbied for teachers to be included in vaccination phase 1b in New York and at this point most of our teachers have had at least one and in many cases both vaccine doses. This enabled us to add more in person learning in March and April. The Board also lobbied for needed changes in density guidance to match the science which now has been handed down by the CDC and New York State.

As we carefully emerge from the Covid pandemic, our students will need help reacclimating to school and re-engaging with the world. Students are struggling with the emotional and physical toll of the pandemic. It is critical that we have enough resources in place to serve any students struggling with mental health issues. We must also be ready to support the innovation that emerged during the pandemic including, for example, the growing awareness of the value of small group learning. We must work with our faculty to develop and enhance these advances.

Restart work may have dominated our meetings and the social media headlines, but the Board also has other responsibilities. Scarsdale is not a typical school district. The relationships and partnerships we have built with teachers and with the community were forged over decades by people who hold education as a core value and the Board’s work of upholding the tenets of a Scarsdale education must and will continue. Strategic planning, academic improvements, K-12 consistency in programs and services, high school innovation/entrepreneurship, technology, STEM, multiculturalism, student voice; these are just some of the many important threads that create the amazing Scarsdale school tapestry.

Finally, I’m very proud of the work we’ve done this year to promote diversity, equity and inclusion in our schools. Our new DEI policy (#0105) reflects the Board’s commitment to maintaining a positive and inclusive learning environment for all students, especially those currently and historically marginalized. As a Board, we are committed to ensuring that all students feel safe, included, welcomed and accepted, and experience a sense of belonging and academic success.

The district now includes 1,000 students who are identified as having disabilities. As an advocate for students with special needs, please comment on the growth in the special education budget over the last ten years. Do you think this growth is sustainable?

As a national advocate for children with special needs, I travel all over the country (well, before Covid I did) visiting school districts, learning about and evaluating their special needs programs. There is no district in this country that cares more about its students with special learning needs than Scarsdale. Of course our system isn’t perfect, but our faculty and administrators are implementing the latest evidence-based teaching techniques in our special education classrooms and are differentiating instruction for both classified and non-classified students.

One practice I have strongly supported in Scarsdale is the decision to bring our students who were in out-of-district placements back into Scarsdale. I began advocating for this change when I was chair of Scarsdale CHILD and continued to do so as a member of the Board of Education. It has been accomplished by creating and then expanding our 8-1-2 and integrated co-teaching classes, and by adding sections as these students age up. This strategy is favored by parents and also saves the district money by eliminating expensive tuitions for out-of- district placements. All our Scarsdale children deserve to be educated here in Scarsdale, and all of our students benefit from this experience.

The increase in the number of Scarsdale students classified as having special needs puts us more in line with national averages than in past years. Also, the special education and counseling departments provide academic and other support services to non-classified students as well. As we emerge from the Covid pandemic, we will need to keep a close eye out for students who may now need additional academic and emotional support. It is more important than ever to have enough resources in place to serve these students and their families.

Given the district’s experience with the pandemic this year, do you think that the community’s expectations for the role of the Board of Education has changed?

One of the strengths of our community is the commitment to volunteerism and engagement among our residents. Throughout the past year, the Board has heard many diverse points of view. At one extreme, people thought Covid was overblown and didn’t affect children, and they wanted schools open immediately. At the other end of the spectrum, we heard from residents who felt our decisions to return to in-person learning were too hasty, even reckless, because so little was known about the virus and its many variants. Even today, we are being told by some that there are only two months left and we should wait until students are able to be vaccinated. While those were polar opposite positions, the vast majority of our feedback was somewhere in between. If people say the Board failed in its responsibility to represent community views, then I would say that there was not a clear or consistent community view but rather an incredibly broad and diverse range of views. And equally important, the Board, by necessity, made its decisions based on state requirements, data, and science, while still taking our community’s input into consideration.

Of course, there are many things we could have done better. Hopefully, we will never have to face a situation like this again, but if we do, there are things I would suggest we do differently, particularly in the area of communications. I believe that the Board needs to communicate more frequently with residents and have a greater social media presence, particularly. Crisis management means bending or breaking established rules and protocols, which the Board was reluctant to do. Also, the goal of including many voices in the decision-making meant we had many layers of subcommittees and in some ways that slowed us down, but we wanted to make sure those voices were heard and included, particularly our faculty and staff, who had to implement the educational program.

I think the community's expectation of the Board absolutely changed this year, particularly for people who haven't really followed Board work too much in the past. It was clear in the midst of this crisis that some people wanted the Board to step into a managerial role and make day-to-day decisions. It is important to remember, though, that school boards, like other public bodies, must comply with many laws and regulations, and school boards only have authority in oversight, policymaking, and governance.

This past year it appeared that the Restart Committee made key decisions about remote/in-person learning and school scheduling. Did the Board of Education have oversight of this committee and its decisions?

The Journey Forward process was an effort that tried to include as much community participation as possible while still enabling flexible and rapid decision making. Those interests are usually at odds. The administration established a system of ten subcommittees, based on building-level and cross-cutting themes, which were populated by faculty, administrators, parents, physicians and High School students where appropriate. These subcommittees reported to the Restart Steering Committee. At the beginning of the process in late May, two board members, Pam Fuehrer and Ron Schulhof, were added to the steering committee and participated fully in discussions and decision-making. In February, I joined them on this committee. All members of the Board of Education received summaries of each steering committee meeting. The administration managed the Journey Forward and, as always, Board Members asked probing questions and provided oversight, input, guidance, resources, and feedback.

Current Board protocol requires the Board to “speak as one.” When is there an opportunity for open discussion and debate?

This isn't actually a local protocol. Per New York education law, boards of education are corporate entities, and therefore must act as one body. That said, I think we have seen very robust debates at the board table in advance of decision-making--and that is the right process. At just our last meeting we had a very vigorous and healthy discussion about the goals and implementation strategy of our new Diversity, Equity and Inclusion policy. Once everyone has had an opportunity to express their ideas and concerns, we make appropriate, agreed-upon changes, then we adopt and support the work as a full Board. This is what it means to act as a corporate body.

While the Board is required to conduct its formal work at meetings in public, there is a lot of work that is done individually or in small teams by Board Members outside of our full board meetings. For example, all Board members can contribute agenda items for each meeting, and then the Board Officers and one additional board member meet with the superintendent before Board meetings to develop the meeting agenda. After the agenda is set, all Board Members send questions and concerns to members of the administration which are usually addressed prior to the meeting. Board Officers are in constant communication with the administration. In between meetings we work on policies, meet with community groups, solicit and respond to community feedback, and engage in advocacy and lobbying on behalf of the district.

What are your thoughts on the SBNC nominating process?

I’m a fan of the nonpartisan nominating process which is why I applied to the SNBC for renomination to the School Board. I served on the SBNC for three years and then became vice chair and then chair of the SBNC Administrative Committee and then chair of the SBNC Joint Committee. When the nonpartisan process works, it works very well. We have many years of experience in which highly qualified candidates were vetted through this process, then elected by the community. In the past, there was an absolute expectation for board members to serve two terms, and this was made clear to all candidates when they were initially selected. The purpose was to ensure that the Board was extremely knowledgeable about district work, which, in turn, allowed complex and long-term goals to be achieved over time. Understanding that this was an extremely important value for our district and community, until very recently, the SBNC always renominated sitting board members for a second term if they wished to continue. While I cannot speak directly to why the SBNC has moved away from this long-time, trusted practice, I do think it remains an important community value, and I believe that on May 18th the community will choose the most qualified and experienced candidates that will best serve our children, district, and community.

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