What is your opinion of the 2015-16 budget?
It’s a good budget. I’m glad they put the .6 music teacher back. My hope is that the administration will follow through with a balanced schedule.
What are your priorities?
- Health and safety of students
In that order. If we do a better job with financial projections and budgeting, we can lower taxes and have more left over for education. Health and safety within the district comes first.
What about cost per pupil expenses?
I am more interested in cost per pupil per administrator and cost per pupil per building than the overall number.
I believe that we are overtaxed and underserved. We can do much better financially.
In our district, the budgets go up, but are not tied to actual spending. Our great opportunity is to correct budget projections that are not based on actual costs. If a budget area is off by $4M for 3 years in a row, why are we still projecting the same number for the budget?
The cost per pupil number does not tell us about that. I want to talk about taxes directly, not cost per pupil as a proxy for high taxes.
The goal is to maintain high educational standards while making sure we spend money at the level that is sustainable for everyone in the district.
What should the district do with Lewisboro Elementary School ?
I have three specific guidelines for this.
- The building should be maintained and used in some way to assure that if it needs to re-open as a school in the future that there is no unbearable financial burden.
- The people who live near the school on Scott’s Lane and Captain Lawrence Drive should be engaged on the committee that decides the fate of the building.
- The tax value of the 500-800+ homes within 1 mile of the school provide significant tax revenue to the district. Whatever use the building has should not diminish the property tax income from those properties.
What is the petition regarding LES closure ?
The process of appealing a Board of Education decision to the commissioner of education is a multi-step process described in detail here:
The petition itself is an administrative appeal. It is the same administrative appeal process that is used for any grievance with a district. The most common use for these type of petitions is to appeal the amount or kind of services provided in special education.
There have not been multiple appeals and this is not an ongoing process. The petition is in the hands of the commissioner of education and is awaiting a decision.
How long have you lived in the district?
Since March 1999.
Do you have children in the district?
I have a daughter in second grade at Meadow Pond. She attended a private kindergarten and spent first and second in the district. The board deserves credit for implementing full day kindergarten.
Last year, KLSD Forward Together did not endorse you saying that the petition was a lawsuit against the district. How do you respond?
I do not believe that anyone would say the same thing about the parent of a special needs child who had petitioned for improved services and then became involved in the school board. Petitions have been filed for special needs students and as a means to get an administration to answer questions regarding finances.
For example, a petition was filed last year questioning the district’s use of reserve funds.
The most salient part of the LES appeal for me was how it focused on questionable financial statements from the district.
Special needs and finance concerns motivate people to become more involved. I don’t think anyone who fully researched what a petition to the commissioner of education is meant for would come to the same conclusion regarding board candidacy.
Are you happy with the selection of Andrew Selesnick as the new superintendent?
Yes, the board worked hard and did a great job with this selection.
What is your opinion of the Meadow Pond Traffic incident last year?
I said last year that the Meadow Pond traffic protest was a mistake. It was poorly organized and poorly executed. If cars drove slowly down route 35 and 123 that would have been fine. It did not make sense to go onto school property. A permit for the protest should have been acquired. It turned out to be one of the many mistakes that have been made in this district. We’ve had a board trustee shouting obscenities at an elected official in the school parking lot and we’ve seen prepared statements from the board deride town leaders. Everyone can do better.
We need a board that works with the town and that shows true outreach. Active engagement by a committed board avoids repeating mistakes we have seen in the past .
What is your platform?
I believe the board of education must:
- Put education on the agenda
- Serve the local community
- Provide oversight to the administration
- Demand clear educational policies