OSSINING, N.Y. The three candidates vying for two spots on the Ossining School District Board of Education tried to separate themselves from their opponents Tuesday night during an introductory debate.
Newcomer Sharon Abreau and incumbents Dana Levenberg and Kimberly Case faced questions at Ossining High School [that served to introduce the candidates prior to the May 15 election. Candidates answered questions] that ran the gamut from the budget situation and increasing enrollment to teacher evaluations and dozens of other issues facing the district.
Abreau said she is running because of her love of the community and to bring new ideas to the school board.
I know nobody knows me unless youve been in this community forever, Abreau said. I understand Ossining is a diverse community in many ways, yet I believe we can work together to make it one that all people will want to be a part of.
When the candidates were asked how they would approach issues facing the schools, Abreau said she would look to the students first.
I think its important to listen to what the kids have to say because they are the ones in our schools and taking our classes, she said. Hearing what the kids have to say is a big thing.
Levenberg said she would continue to make sure staff and teachers are given the best opportunity to help students succeed.
The backbone of childrens education is our wonderful staff and teachers, Levenberg said. Its important that we take a broad look at our students and our programs to see how they fit in our district and to make sure they are the most effective for the students.
Case said she would focus on effective communication between the board and the community.
I would say a lot of what I will do is listen and communicate more effectively this year, Case said. Also, we have safety issues such as the anti-bullying law coming down from the national government and I think its important that we communicate effectively with our community on every issue that we face.
When asked about their stances on releasing teacher evaluations, all three opposed making that information public.
I absolutely do not believe in publishing teacher evaluations and I think it will do harm, not good, Levenberg said. I think the purpose of teacher evaluations is to help teachers improve in the classrooms and so that principals and superintendents can figure out where is the best place to put someone. I think its just going to backfire. I think its a bad approach.
Case and Abreau agreed that the evaluations should be kept private.
Each candidate acknowledged that the district could face difficult financial decisions in the coming years.
I know were not perfect, Case said. We need to go more in-depth into some of the subject areas and we need to look at new ways to improve our financial standing and find more creative ways to get money and fund programs and make the greater community a place where people would like to move to. We have a lot of work to do and I want to be up here doing that hard work.
Abreau said she hopes Ossining residents are ready for a change on the school board.
I hope people will help me make a difference in the town I love, she said. Vote for me if youre ready for some fresh ideas and a new outlook. Ossining, its time for a change.
Levenberg said she hopes residents will vote for her and Case.
Im running for another term so I can continue to make sure we use all of the tools available to achieve excellent outcomes for our students. I will be vigilant in looking for outside sources of funding to offset costs to our community so that we can support student success, Levenberg said. Please vote for me and my colleague Kim Case on May 15 and please vote yes for our responsible school budget.
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