CROSS RIVER, N.Y. – Residents of the Katonah-Lewisboro School District got a chance to meet the candidates in next week’s school board election on Tuesday night at a forum sponsored by the district’s Parent’s Council.
The forum, which was held at the John Jay High School library, introduced candidates Richard Delin, Marjorie Schiff, Stephanie Tobin and Mindy Yanish, who are all vying for two vacant seats on the board.
Incumbent board members Michael Gordon and Warren Schloat had announced in March that they would not seek re-election. Both said the board needed new blood and they wanted to spend more time with their families.
Tuesday night’s forum was moderated by Rhea Mallett, a local attorney and former candidate for the Lewisboro Town Board. The candidates answered a series of questions from a panel made up of members of the district’s seven PTAs and PTOs.
All four of the candidates agreed that their primary goal was to maintain the district’s high academic standards while maintaining fiscal responsibility during tough economic times.
Tobin, a Waccabuc resident, said she wanted to make academics a focal point.
“I am a teacher advocate,” she said, “but I want accountability markers.”
But, she said, the district needs to be careful and creative in the way it spends.
“The bottom line is there is no money – we have to use what we have here,” she said.
Delin, of South Salem, who has two children in the district, said they have had a good experience academically and athletically while attending Katonah-Lewisboro schools and that he wants to help maintain that excellence, though he noted that doing that is “getting tougher and tougher.”
Delin said his background is in sales and negotiations and that his experience bringing groups to a consensus is his strong point.
“I want to do whatever is possible to deliver the best possible experience for our kids,” he said. “For me, it’s about giving back [to the community].”
Schiff, who lives in Pound Ridge, said her experience as a college administrator and strategic planner gives her a special set of skills that would benefit the school board. She’s also worked as an undergraduate admissions dean.
“The quality of education here is exceptional, but there is always an opportunity to improve,” she said. “I have the skills and experience to preserve the well-being of the students with the complex mandates that are being rolled out [by the state].”
Yanish, of Katonah, has two daughters – one in middle school and one in high school – and said her love for the community is the primary reason she’s running.
“I want to contribute in any way possible,” she said. “I would not be successful without the gifted educators I’ve had in my life.”
Yanish said that she believes the educational experience should be more than just academics.
“Our graduation rates are high but our kids’ sense of belonging is not,” she said.
In the Tuesday election, residents also will vote on the proposed school budget as well as propositions for districtwide energy improvements, including new boilers for several school buildings.
The Daily Lewisboro will have complete candidate profiles for all four school board candidates later this week.