SLEEPY HOLLOW, N.Y. -- School board elections are coming up on May 21, and The Daily Voice wants to highlight candidates running for the Board of Education of the Public Schools of the Tarrytowns.
Four candidates are vying for three open seats on the Board of Education: incumbent Vincent Nadile, Carol Banino, John Paine and Jennifer Liddy Green.
Check back as Election Day draws closer to see more candidate questionnaires. See a previous questionnaire from John Paine.
Incumbent Vincent Nadile has been a member of the Board of Education for eight years. Nadile has lived in Tarrytown with his wife and three children since 1990. He currently works as a practicing attorney at an insurance-related company, where he specializes in contract law.
What qualifies you to be a school board member? I have had the privilege of serving on the Tarrytowns Board of Education for 8 years, and I had the added privilege of being its vice president last year. For several years, I also had the privilege of being a board member on the Foundation for the Public Schools of the Tarrytowns.
I am the board's only practicing attorney, and I served for several years as a board member of an insurance company where I was responsible for ensuring adherence to rules of procedure and overall governance. I am also one of only two board members who currently have an elementary school-age child in our school system along with a spouse who has a full-time career outside the home. So, I am keenly aware of many challenges faced by those students and parents.
What have you accomplished as a member of the school board?
I am proud to have been a principal voice for the establishment in our middle school of an honors based English Language Arts program, called SpringBoard, which was just implemented last year. I am also proud of my advocacy for and my service on our high school's Discipline Committee, which identified and addressed the discrete offenses committed by certain students. And I am particularly grateful for the opportunity to have worked closely on projects with two fellow board members. One is the crafting of over half a dozen board policies and regulations, which were accomplished with the much appreciated input from fellow board member Mimi Godwin. These have ranged from procedures on the appropriate renting and use of all of our school properties, to safety and student health initiatives, to the protocols for the naming of our school facilities in a way that ensures community involvement. Another is a $1.2 million innovative energy service contract, on which I worked closely with fellow board member Paul Rode, to refit our buildings with cost efficient systems. This was paid for entirely out of savings derived from the project, and the work accomplished will continue to save the district thousands of dollars in utility bills.
What would you like to accomplish if elected? Two major goals: one, the implementation of a comprehensive re-registration process for our district, and, two, the undertaking of a serious evaluation, with meaningful recommended action plans, for ability grouping—often commonly referred to as ”tracking"—in the elementary grades.
The first issue is one that has the potential of ultimately yielding significant economic relief to the district's property taxpayers as well as quality-of-life benefits to our students who are legally residing in our district and their teachers. Other districts in our area have done this successfully. White Plains did it in 2010; in the previous year, that district found 39 families who were improperly enrolling children in its school system. This year, Elmsford is undertaking a re-registration. Last year, it found over two dozen students who did not belong in the district. It is ludicrous for us to think that we do not face similar issues and to cling stubbornly to our policy of one-time registration for all children, which typically starts and ends in kindergarten, a span of 13 academic years.
The second issue is a discussion that, frankly, we have not had for misguided political reasons. Significant evidence exists from well-respected educators that bright, average, and slow youngsters profit from grouping programs that adjust the curriculum to the aptitude levels of the groups. This may be the only way in fact that we can efficaciously administer the "Common Core" curriculum to all students in the tight time frames placed upon us by the state. And for those who believe that such groupings do a disadvantage to slow or average learners, I strongly recommend to them the writings and research of respected educators such as Joyce Van-Tassel Baska, James A. Kulik, Chen-Lin C. Kulik, and Joseph Renzulli.
If something had to be cut from the budget to meet the state tax cap, what would you cut? Well, considering that we cannot do things like trim the very attractive six figure salaries of superintendents and assistant superintendents, which come with, one, life-time pensions of some eighty percent of their recent rates of compensation and, two, substantially subsidized life-time health insurance, then we unfortunately need to look for savings from items that are non-core educational items for our children. This means we are staring at extracurriculars like sports programs. It also may mean putting more kids in a classroom, if we have to make staff cuts, which augurs strongly for ability grouping ("tracking").
What are the three biggest issues facing the school today?
- Unfunded state and federal mandates.
- A weak process for determining that students are legitimately residing in our district as they move from school to school.
- An ever-decreasing population of students who are solid, if not exceptional, performers as well as those who are academically talented.
If elected what would you do about them?
- Continue to encourage efforts at district-wide letter writing and petition campaigns to all elected politicians -- several of such campaigns are currently underway -- to sensitize them to these issues and their ultimate unfortunate consequences on our school district if they are left unchecked.
- Push for a comprehensive re-registration campaign with our new superintendent, Dr. Chris Clouet, who oversaw successful re-registration efforts during his recent tenure as superintendent of the White Plains school district.
- Push the new superintendent and the to-be-selected assistant superintendent for a study on how best to implement ability grouping in our elementary grades as well as push the new administration to establish across-the-board honors programs in the middle school.
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.