EducationSchool Votes 2024

Eight Candidates Vie for Three Seats on WP Board of Education

We are part of The Trust Project

Eight candidates are running for three available seats on the White Plains Board of Education. Seven of those board hopefuls participated in a forum hosted by the League of Women Voters May 9 at White Plains High School. Donna Giambalvo was unable to attend.

Longtime Trustee James Hricay, who has been on the board since 2009, is not seeking reelection. Each seat is for a three-year term. The election will be held on May 21.

Jessica Buck

Buck is a 21-year resident of White Plains who has been active in the school district since 2015, having served as PTA Council Representative for Ridgeway Elementary School. She is owner of a marketing consultant business.

“I know hard work and dedication is required to be a board member,” she stated. “There have been times when I am the only community member in attendance at the live meetings. I’ve witnessed how hard they work and admire their deep dedication to the students and families in the (district). I share that same dedication and passion about serving students and families and continuously striving to make this school district the best it can be within the parameters of the resources available to it.”

She said one of the challenges facing the district is developing strong student and family engagement at all schools, especially at the middle and high school levels.

“I have all the characteristics of a board member as outlined by the NYS School Boards Association: I am an effective communicator, a consensus builder, community participant, decision maker, information processor, leader and team player,” she stated. “As a trusted member of the WPCSD community, I believe I am the best qualified candidate to serve on the board.”

Donna Giambalvo

Giambalvo is a Vice President of Sales and mother of fourth and fifth grade daughters in the district.

“I have chosen to run for the school board because I have witnessed firsthand the challenges and stresses faced by families and friends within the school system,” she stated. “This personal insight has inspired me to step up and advocate for meaningful change. Firstly, I am committed to being a voice for all students, parents, and community members, ensuring that their concerns and aspirations are heard and addressed. Secondly, I am dedicated to fostering an exceptional school system where every child has the opportunity to thrive academically, socially, and emotionally.”

She said the diversity of the district presents opportunities and challenges, including ensuring all students receive support. She also maintained allocating and managing financial resources effectively was crucial.

“By addressing these challenges thoughtfully and collaboratively, we can work towards ensuring that all students receive the high-quality education they deserve,” she stated. “At the end of my term on the school board, I would take immense pride in nurturing a robust and collaborative bond among the board, school officials, and teachers.”

Leslie Hickey

Hickey is a White Plains High School graduate who owns an accounting firm in White Plains. She served as assistant treasurer and treasurer of the high school PTA and been an active volunteer at fundraising events.

“I believe that times have changed, and we need a fresh perspective in addressing them,” she stated. “We need more transparency. I also add a financial background in the business world which would assist in strategy and planning.”

She said fiscal responsibility is the most important role of a Board of Education member. She would also strive to find the right balance between teachers and administrators to “maximize education goals in a fiscally responsible manner.”

“We need to find the right support for those on the front line in the classrooms we keep our best teachers,” she stated.

Cayne Letizia

Letizia is running for reelection for a fourth term and is the board’s current vice president. He has lived in White Plains since 2010 and is a high school English teacher in Chappaqua.

“I’ve witnessed the significant strides we’ve made during my last three terms. I am eager to continue this momentum into another term,” he stated. “Furthermore, as a parent with three children in the district, I bring a crucial perspective on how our decisions directly impact students. I view my most important role as being a steward of our community’s educational values and resources, dedicated to both current and future students and families of White Plains schools.”

He said the greatest challenges facing the district are achievement and growth.

“Our responsibility is immense: to educate every student effectively, ensuring they lay a strong foundation for future community contributions,” he stated. “The challenge intensifies as we address disparities in access to resources like food and language acquisition barriers. Despite these hurdles, our commitment remains to uphold high educational standards while recognizing and nurturing the district talents of each student.”

Rose Lovitch

Lovitch is running for reelection for a fifth term. She is owner of the Rossi law firm in the city and a staff attorney for the Pace Woman’s Justice Center.

“I am eager to continue our work to support our students,” she stated. “I have always enjoyed working with children, and I feel that my role as a school board member serves students in a most critical part of their growth, I am incredibly proud to serve with board members who always put children first, and whose decisions are always made in the best interests of our students.”

She stated the two most critical roles of a Board of Education are to support the superintendent of schools and review, understand and approve the annual budget.

“We often make difficult or unpopular decisions, based upon research and data analysis, to provide for a body of students very diverse needs,” she stated. “I believe that my experience as a longtime board member provides the knowledge and information, strength and objectivity, and perseverance necessary to face these challenges. We always look to the future as we provide the resources necessary for our students to pursue their dreams and contribute to a diverse and dynamic world.”

Craig Mondschein

Mondschein is a 12-year city resident and a corporate treasurer. He has been on the district’s Finance and Audit Committee since 2017.

“I feel I have the perspective and experience to positively impact the education of our White Plains children. I have been able to observe firsthand what has worked and what improvements our needed to meet the educational needs of our children,” said the father of two daughters educated in the district.

He stated the most important role of a board member is being an advocate for students and taxpayers and feels the biggest challenges facing the district are the budget, age of school buildings and changing demographics in White Plains.

“The needs of our students will continue to evolve as new families move into White Plains,” he stated. “The board and administration have to anticipate these needs. White Plains has done a very good job of meeting the individual needs of every student.”

Vincent Orlando

Orlando is a lifelong White Plains resident who started his career in education but now works in financial services. He currently serves as PTA secretary for his two children’s school in the district.

“I have chosen to run for the White Plains school board so I can continue to serve my community. I feel it is an important responsibility to work with our community and schools so that all children can have an opportunity to succeed,” he stated. “People are unhappy with the district is run and the lack of transparency from the Board of Education. Electing three new members will send a message that you want your voices heard.”

He stated one of the biggest challenges facing the district is continuing to address the needs of all students.

“English language learners, students with disabilities, economically disadvantaged students and our gifted and talented students. We need to make sure that we continue to offer as many opportunities as possible to our students that we can,” he stated. “We also need to make sure there is transparency with the decision-making process and that we move away from top-down decisions.”

Ferene Tasnady

Tasnady, who has lived in White Plains for 15 years, works in technology sales. He has three children attending district schools.

“I will be a voice and true representative for the people of White Plains – students, taxpayers and teachers,” he stated. “I’d also like to see more transparency in the way decisions are made. If elected I would be at true public servant, expressing and fighting for the will of the people and doing my best to enact policies that support it.”

He said “new blood” is needed on the Board of Education and promised to be “an independent thinker and a consensus builder.”

“These are challenging times and the school system (budgets in particular) are under a lot of stress,” he stated. “I anticipate more strain in the coming years and allocating resources properly will become more difficult and contentious.”


We'd love for you to support our work by joining as a free, partial access subscriber, or by registering as a full access member. Members get full access to all of our content, and receive a variety of bonus perks like free show tickets. Learn more here.