Three Running for Two Seats on Irvington Board of Education
by Rick Pezzullo –
Three candidates will be vying for two available seats on the Irvington Board of Education when district voters go to the polls on Tuesday, May 15.
Board President Michael Hanna is the lone incumbent in the race as Trustee Catherine Palmieri opted not to seek reelection. Looking to join the board for the first time are Erin Bernstein and Beth Propper.
Hanna, who moved to Irvington from Dobbs Ferry in 2011 and has twin daughters attending Irvington High School, owns a communications company and edits television documentaries.
“As current 2018-19 School Board President, I look to continue working with the board and district administration on implementing the new strategic plan,” Hanna said. “The focus for the board is to continue a fiscally responsible approach to supporting student success and well-being in a safe, modern, rigorous learning environment.”
Bernstein, who is employed as a Senior Controller for an independent school, and has more than 20 years’ experience in college and public school district financial management, has lived in Irvington for eight years. She has one son in the district.
“The primary responsibilities of the board are fiscal and policy oversight, as well as management of the Superintendent. The board is currently lacking someone with my financial acumen,” she said. “I felt strongly that someone with a financial background would add a critical fiscal oversight function to the overall makeup of the board. With experience not only as a financial controller, but also in managing educational institution’s finances, I believe I would be a strong addition to the current board.”
“We are planning to launch multi-million-dollar bond projects, so I believe that strong operational and budget management and oversight will be keys to success of those projects,” she added. “Safety and security, particularly at the main campus, will also be critical issues going forward, and we must address those within a constrained budget and as part of the upcoming bond initiative.”
Propper, a public interest lawyer who started her career as a prosecutor in Brooklyn, has lived in Irvington for 14 years. Her daughter currently attends Irvington Middle School, and her son is a 2015 Irvington High graduate.
“I have been involved as a parent and volunteer at all grade levels, K-12, from the transition from preschool through the college application process. I am grateful for the education provided to my children by Irvington’s respected public schools, and I feel very lucky to have been able to raise my family in our beautiful village. That is why I feel a sense of responsibility to make sure that the success of our schools continues now and long into the future,” Propper said. “I intend to bring my knowledge and experience to serve as a member of Irvington’s school board so that I can do my part to further the best interests of our children and our community.”
“The most important issues facing our district (and for that matter, all school districts in New York State) center on fiscal limits,” she added. “Irvington must continue to maintain and improve programming and instruction while creatively working within the budgetary constraints passed down from Albany. Security issues are also a top priority, not only in terms of how we must insure that our campuses and buildings are safe for our children and staff, but also, in terms of an additional responsibility to adhere to best practices in data privacy in the face of rapidly evolving reliance on technology in education.”
Residents will also be voting May 15 on a $61.38 million budget for the 2017-18 school year which increases spending by 3.8%, the largest spending hike in the district since 2014-15. The tax increase per household is based on assessed valuation. In order to balance the budget, the district is allocating $422,500 from fund balance, the same amount utilized this year.
Voting will take place at Main Street School from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.