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Lisa Cohen Announces Candidacy for Croton-Harmon Board of Education

April 7, 2009

Dear Croton School District Residents,

My name is Lisa Cohen and I am pleased to announce my candidacy for our Board of Education. As a parent of two children at CET I’ve been able to experience firsthand the high standards to which CET holds its students. As the parent of a developmentally disabled child, I’m sure I’m not alone in utilizing variety of services helping these children realize their potential.

Parents and children in our district will experience some bittersweet moments in the coming months. We mark the departure of our district superintendent, Dr. Marjorie Castro. We face filing two seats on our Board of Education, those of Kathy Brechner and Eugene Perl. The years of service these people have given to our children are large in both quantity and quality. Our three schools are truly bright facets in Croton’s crown.

As a board member of the Croton Harmon Education Foundation I have been privileged to work on the Allocations Committee, bringing initiatives brought forth by school staff and district residents to fruition. I have recently met with Principal Maloney and CET music teacher Rebecca Clina to finalize the details of installing a much needed sound system for the multipurpose room. I have met with Principal Ulm and educators from PVC and CHHS to explore the creation of a garden project, which I hope can be expanded to include the elementary school as well. As a PTA and SEPTA member and parent, I am happy that I’ve been able to increase my involvement from volunteering in the classroom to a weekly volunteer shift at the CET library, and working with the PTA at Book Fair and their spectacular evening events!

The present Board of Education has approached the Village Board over the past year to forge economically beneficial partnerships, especially in the areas of shared custodial and maintenance services. I look forward to this relationship continuing with the incoming administration and discovering more innovative ways to save money while preserving top standards of education.

As the treasurer of an organic food co-op here in Croton, I see the need—especially in these times—to provide our members with the best value we can manage for their families. In a larger context I see the need for our school board to be proactive and vigilant about seeking partnerships and grants in order to secure the best education possible for our children.

I ask for your support in this election. I look forward to being an active part of the changes we are facing. Change fosters questions. Working together we can come up with answers. I will be looking to you for ideas to improve our district and for concerns you may have for the future of our schools. Please contact me anytime at lisac@10520.info.

Sincerely,

Lisa Cohen

On April 16, 2009 8:10 AM, Lisa Cohen said:

As you read this, the Croton Board of Education has fulfilled its statuary obligation to adopt the budget for the 2009-2010 school year. This budget will be presented for voter approval on May 19th. This date is doubly significant, as I ask for your support in my election for school board that day.

In considering the budget, we all hope for a zero percent impact on our property taxes, but this hope may not be realistic. School taxes comprise more than sixty present of our residential property taxes. Plummeting real estate values have affected us all, and the school budget is clearly mitigated by economic reality. Every resident will be watching this election closely to determine just how affordable Croton will be in the next year.

While most programs in the schools may remain relatively unscathed, some cuts in the budget will be unavoidable. I fear a situation where one program is cut to benefit another, or staff is cut in order to supplement staff in an area deemed more important. If elected to the Croton’s Board of Education, I will explore partnerships with the state and federal governments, as well as businesses and other school districts to preserve not only the programs offered but also suggest new initiatives that benefit from the plethora of grants and additional funding available to us.

Why not take advantage of national organizations that provide grants for improving the quality of reading instruction? If we have to cut supplemental reading teachers, perhaps grant money could be used to aid in training staff members in existing positions to take over those responsibilities. With a wide variety of large corporations headquartered in and around our town, we could explore funding from those corporations as a means of improving the community in which their employees live and work.

A future initiative close to my heart is the creation of a community/school district garden. The simple act of growing things reaches across so many disciplines, involving botany, ecology, statistics, engineering and, of course, home economics. I have discovered through research that many firms will happily fund this kind of program, and I look forward to deploying these resources for our benefit.

We live in an area publicly labeled as wealthy. We all know that this label is far too general to be accurate. By building partnerships with our neighbors, we will be able to maintain our high standards and, indeed, push them higher. As always any comments or questions are appreciated at lisac@10520.info.

On April 9, 2009 9:41 AM, Lisa Cohen said:

As I announced last week, I’m running for school board. On May 19th, I ask for your vote to become part of the Board of Education. While electing quality members is of paramount importance, there are other critical issues on the ballot that day, such as the creation of the Capital Reserve Fund, which I fully support. This fund will help address the physical conditions of the schools in general, and the science labs in particular. Roofs leak, there is a need for a new boiler and the labs at the high school will not meet state standards in the fall. There are experiments that cannot be conducted in our science labs because these rooms are not equipped to do them properly or even safely. This final item is the largest reason to approve the creation of a Reserve Fund. Once established, the Board expects to contribute $500K of expected building aid from the State of New York to this fund. Voter approval would be required to use money from the fund, and the Board will be held accountable for every penny.

April 1st, was the last opportunity for the public to comment before the Croton Board of Education on their proposed budget. Many parents advocated for funding for issues close to their hearts, be it addition or elimination of staffing, continuation of programs or simply class size ratio. As we get closer to May 19, the designated date for the School District Budget Vote, I would like to solicit questions you may have about these issues and address them.

What do you feel is the most basic framework for a child’s education? Is it ensuring each student understands the concepts of reading, writing and mathematics? Is it ample preparation for standardized testing? Do you feel that students matriculating today need to come away from a public education with the ability to be a competitive earner in a global workplace? How much does the amount of individual attention paid to students by their teacher affect ability to learn?

As I listened to this round of budget discussion, one comment made by a parent stuck in my mind. To paraphrase: although it is wonderful for the district to be formulating an educational philosophy for the future, it should not take precedent over what is happening now. What better prompting do we need to ask ourselves what we need to do today to make tomorrow better for our children and therefore our community?

I ask you to consider what you want out of this budget. Questions need to be asked during this process and I look forward to hearing from you, even if it’s to tell me why you won’t be voting to pass either the budget, the creation of the reserve fund, or both. I can be reached at lisac@10520.info.



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