| by Rick Pezzullo |
Two of the five seats on the Irvington Board of Education are up for grabs in the May 19 election.
With board Vice President Maria Kashkin opting not to seek reelection, Robyn Kerner, a former board president and vice president, is the lone incumbent in the race. Running for the first time are Michael Hanna and Catherine Palmieri.
Kerner, the mother of three school-age sons, has served a total of nine years on the board—two terms from 2005 to 2011 and the last term from 2012 to present. She said her experience with budgeting and strategic planning, along with a marketing and communications background, has enhanced her contributions to the board.
“I have decided to run for reelection because I am passionate about our children’s education and, I make a difference,” she said. “This is a challenging time. Now more than ever we need board members who will lead; board members who will be proactive, both in our schools, and as a voice for our community in the state; board members who will set the top down vision for our district as we embrace technology, the Common Core and a more rigorous college process. Experience matters. I bring years of hands-on experience, and more importantly, a proven track record.”
Hanna, who has 20 years experience in television and documentary production, has twin girls who attend Irvington Middle School. He is a founding member of Irvington United for Education, an advocacy group created to support children in the community.
“I am running as an advocate for the best education of all our students, fiscal responsibility for our taxpayers, and local control over our school’s priorities,” he said. “Always, our goal is for students to achieve their potential. Their success supports our community’s well-being. Our school board needs to continually seek to be well-informed, efficient, and collaborative to better support the district’s success.”
Palmieri, a consultant who has spent her career in digital financial services, has a son and daughter who attend Irvington schools. She said she has volunteered as an Irvington AYSO girls soccer coach and a PTSA class parent, and worked with teachers and administrators to start the Geography Bee at Main Street School and the Mobile App programming class at the high school.
“I believe the schools are in a great place, and with some business guidance, we can take them to the next level,” she said. “Having spent the last 20 years of my career working with technology and financial services, and seeing how the Internet and mobile have broken down global barriers across all industries, I believe we need to do more to accelerate our children’s learning in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math). I am also concerned about the cuts to programs that have taken place over multiple years, particularly in athletics, arts and music. These are areas where kids who may not be great at other things have opportunities to distinguish themselves, and all kids need an opportunity to shine.”