SOUTH SALEM, N.Y. -- Four candidates are running for two open Katonah-Lewisboro school board seats.
The candidates – Carmen Delessio, Scott Posner, Rory Burke and William Rifkin – are seeking seats held by President Charles Day and Trustee Janet Harckham, who did not file to run. The deadline to file petitions was extended to May 7 at 5 p.m., according to District Clerk Kimberly Monzon, due to the withdrawal of Irina Ellison.
Addressing his decision not to run, Day released a statement to media outlets: "In my opinion, this has been a wildly successful term, culminating this year with a budget that actually lowers the tax levy for the first time in at least 25 years and adds full day kindergarten.”
Addressing the district's position, Day wrote positively about the closure of Lewisboro Elementary School, along with renegotiation of the teachers' contract and healthcare plans with labor units as ways to do it. Day also endorsed Rifkin and Posner.
Rifkin, a physician, has sat on district committees for student performance and for health and safety.
Asked why he is running, Rifkin responded by citing his background, including preparation of reports providing assistance to committees.
Posner, a corporate lawyer who serves on the district's finance committee, mentioned occasions of when he spoke at board meetings, including with concern about class sizes and about spending. He wants to improve the experience for John Jay middle and high school students, with class sizes a concern.
Burke, an IT manager for an insurance company, wants a community advisory board and online surveying. Burke feels that community trust needs to be rebuilt, citing the closure process for Lewisboro Elementary School. The board voted 5-2 in January to close LES, Daily Voice reported, which is effective for the next school year.
Delessio, a mobile app developer, wants outreach for individuals, the towns of Lewisboro and Bedford, and state representatives. An LES parent, he has been a vocal critic of the closure. He cites the process for it as being why he first got interested in district issues.
Rifkin put the closure in a financial context, describing it as “very painful” but also “prudent.”
The new board will have to address hiring a new superintendent, which candidates referenced. Michael Jumper, an assistant superintendent, became interim superintendent because Paul Kreutzer resigned from the post in January, Daily Voice reported.
Candidates were invited to the board's May 8 meeting, which is set 7:30 p.m. at the high school's library, according to the agenda. The parent council announced it will have a candidates night on May 15 at 7 p.m. at the middle school library.