In the Lakeland School District, at least two new residents will be joining the Board of Election as two current trustees have opted not to seek new terms with four seats up for grabs in the May 15 vote being held from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. at Van Cortlandtville Elementary School.
Carol Ann Dobson, a former board president and vice president who has served five three-year terms, is bowing out, as is Trustee Keri Fiore, who was appointed last year following the resignation of Elizabeth Kogler.
Running for second terms are Michael Daly, former treasurer of the Lakeland Education Foundation, and Karen Pressman, former president of the Lincoln-Titus Elementary School PTA.
Looking to join the board for the first time are Angela Conti, Robert Mayes and Stephen Reid. The top three vote-getters will earn three-year terms, while the fourth-place finisher will have to settle for the one-year unexpired term, which ends June 30, 2019, being left vacant by Fiore.
- Who are you and what is your background?
I’ve lived in Yorktown Heights for 21 years with my wife Christine and three daughters, two of whom have graduated from Lakeland High School and one is currently in Lakeland Copper Beech Middle School.
Professionally, I am a Senior Vice President/ Financial Advisor with an internationally recognized investment firm with an office in White Plains, NY. My MBA in Finance (Iona College ’84) has served me well during my 34-year career managing investments for clients as well as advising them on complex financial matters including budgeting, planning and the financing of large construction/real estate projects.
When not working, I am actively involved in youth sports. I’ve coached over 200 girls including my three daughters over 16 years as a volunteer coach for the Shrub Oak Athletic Club (SOAC). The 2017/2018 season marked my 6th year as the Director of the SOAC Girls’ Basketball program that annually welcomes 300 girls of all talent levels in grades three through high School.
Prior to my election to the School Board, I served on the Lakeland Education Foundation (LEF) for eight years in various positions including being the Foundation’s Treasurer for five years. During my tenure the LEF raised over $300,000 to fund grant requests from the district’s most innovative teachers as they enhanced our students’ educational experience.
- Why are you running?
Being a school Board member is challenging and at times difficult. It requires a serious time commitment, attention to detail, and importantly a willingness to objectively listen and be an advocate for all stakeholders including, students, parents, teachers and union members. That being said it is very rewarding when you see our students graduate knowing they are well prepared for their future endeavors.
Since election in 2015 I have actively participated on the district’s Audit committee and Capital Projects committees, regularly using my educational and professional experience. The district currently has a capital improvement plan that calls for over $50 million in improvement projects. Assisting the district managers to bring these projects to completion efficiently, on time and on budget is uniquely suited to my background.
I also believe the contacts I have developed over 34 years can continue to benefit the district.
One of my introductions brought senior representatives from the skilled trade unions together with the Guidance Department and district administrators. The goal being to provide those students not bound for college with internships and training programs to ready them for careers in well-paying fields. The first internship was started this semester with more to come.
A second introduction has the district reviewing a partnership with a local college. Graduate students with teaching majors would serve as substitute teachers in district four days/week partially solving the district’s need for substitute teachers. In return, the students would shadow experienced teachers one day a week to gain valuable classroom experience.
- What is the top priority for the Lakeland School District Going Forward?
In a large district like Lakeland there are always multiple priorities occurring simultaneously that require attention. Providing a high quality education and maintaining our facilities within a budget are all priorities.
School safety has been the highest priority for this board and the district. Horrific events of the last few years simply cannot be ignored. The district, with full Board support, has taken pro-active steps over the last three years including:
- Spending over $14 million on security upgrades to our facilities
- Hiring retired police officers to serve as security officers in each elementary school.
- Retaining an outside consulting firm to provide recommendations and review procedures.
After further assessing needs and discussing with our valued partners in local law enforcement the following line items were added to the proposed budget for implementation:
- Adding a uniformed police officer in every elementary school and
- Adding security officers in each school to oversee school safety during afterschool activities
Security is only one part of the solution. Being able to reach a troubled individual before they lose control is equally as important. Lakeland has been at the forefront of mental health care with numerous initiatives. Lakeland has teamed up with outside professionals to identify students in need and to provide assistance. Student clubs, like the Warriors’ club empowers students to help their peers.
There is still much to do to ensure a culture where all students feel safe, welcome and valued. This must be an ongoing priority.
1) I have a Bachelor of Arts in English from the State University of New York College at Cortland and have worked for nearly 30 years in the corporate communications and public relations profession. After many years of employment in NYC public relations agencies, I became an independent consultant when my children were young so I could have a flexible schedule.
I’ve lived in Cortlandt Manor since 2003 with my husband and two children. Both kids attended Lincoln-Titus Elementary School, Lakeland Copper Beech Middle School and are now students at Walter Panas High School.
2) As a strong believer in public education and community service, I am honored to be a Lakeland Board of Education Trustee and want to continue advocating for and supporting all of our students, teachers, staff and administrators.
I believe in order to be effective you need to be fully engaged as a board member. Since joining the board in 2015, I’ve been a very active member. I have an excellent attendance record at meetings, regularly attend school events and take advantage of school board seminars and retreats. Another aspect of being on the board that I’ve taken seriously is my committee work. I currently serve on the District Youth Council, District Parent Council, Lakeland Advocacy Outreach and Communications Committee.
If re-elected, I will be just as dedicated to the district in my second term as I was in my first. My goals would be to continue helping the administration deliver an excellent pre-K – 12 education to all of our students; provide a supportive and rewarding environment for our teachers, administrators and staff; and perform ongoing assessments of safety and security protocols throughout our district. I will also uphold the board’s ongoing commitment to represent the entire community by being fiscally responsible in its stewardship of the Lakeland Central School District budget.
3) Providing all of our students with a quality education that will prepare them for a rapidly changing workforce is extremely important. We need to find each child’s individual path to success throughout their K – 12 experience so they’re ready to conquer the next phase of their life whether it’s a two- or four-year college, apprenticeship program, vocational school, the military or employment.
School safety is also extremely important and something the district has been very focused on. We’ve been working closely with a consultant to review our security measures. We continue to enhance the security of our schools and provide staff training. The 2018-2019 budget includes monitors for after school activities and security resource officers (SROs) for all five elementary schools – these are in addition to the SROs in the middle school and both high schools. And our dedicated Building Emergency Response Teams (BERT) and Safety Committee are constantly discussing best practices.
Mental health continues to be a priority and the district has excellent services for our students. We’re thrilled that the Bridge program in the middle school will be expanded into both high schools. And, our student-led Warr;ors (the semicolon represents mental health and suicide prevention) club continues to be an inspiration in our schools, Westchester County and beyond.
- I am the parent of two boys that attend Lakeland Schools. My eldest, attends Lakeland High School, and my youngest attends Copper Beech Middle School. I am a retired NYPD Detective and hold an AAS in Criminal Justice, an AAS in EMS (Paramedic) and a Certificate in EMS Management from WCC. Currently, I volunteer with Mohegan Vac and Team Rubicon, a veteran and first responder disaster relief organization. During the summers I work as the Nature Specialist at Summer Trails day camp. I have lived in the Lakeland School District for over 16 years.
2) I would like to be a part Lakeland Central School District Board of Education in order to help ensure a safe learning environment for all students, transparency, and a fair and balanced budget.
3) Security and safety of our students is paramount. It should be a top priority for the Lakeland School District.
- I am a 22-year district resident living in the town of Cortlandt. I have a bachelor’s degree in Accounting and Finance from Pace University and completed all coursework towards a master’s degree in Elementary and Special Education from Manhattanville College.
For most of my career, I worked as a Business Operations Manager at a major communications company dealing with accounting, budgets, communications, human resources, emergency preparedness and business continuity planning. My husband, John, and I have two children. The youngest recently graduated from Walter Panas High School.
I have volunteered in Lakeland for the last 12 years. My contributions include: being a class parent and PTA member at Lincoln-Titus Elementary School each year my son attended; being President of the Walter Panas High School Parent Club (PPC) for three years; being a member of Walter Panas High School’s Building Emergency Response Team (BERT) during my tenure as President of the PPC; and being an active PTA President/Community member of the Lakeland District Parents’ Council for the past five years. I am presently on the Lakeland Board of Education’s Audit Committee and I have completed the mandatory New York State School Board Association’s Fiscal Oversight training.
- I have spent the past 12 years studying how a school district works. I would like to have a seat at the table and contribute to its vision and mission. I feel it is important to hear from all stake holders in the community when making decisions. My love for children, my experience in finance and my passion for education will be a positive addition to our present board of education. I am fair, honest, and dependable – all important attributes of a good trustee, and I am willing to put in the time to make informed decisions. I am a firm believer in public education. I am confident that I will govern on facts, not feelings and will always be goal driven. I believe the role of a successful board member is to represent the entire community, exercise leadership and most of all be an advocate for students while being fiscally responsible.
- The top priority for the district going forward is to make available the best education and safe facilities for our students to provide them the greatest opportunity to reach their full potential while remaining fiscally responsible to our community. School safety has been, and will continue to be, a very high priority for the district. I believe we should continue to focus on mental and emotional health programs. Lakeland has many programs and clubs that have helped to identify and alleviate some of the stress and anxiety felt by students and this is key to ensuring the success of all students. Another key priority is to have more open communication and dialogs between the Board of Education and our community members. Working collaboratively to find solutions is in the best interest of one and all.
1) I am a fifth generation Town of Cortlandt resident, and have lived in the district practically my entire life. I attended Lincoln-Titus Elementary School, Lakeland Copper Beech Middle School, and Walter Panas High School. I am the son of a retired Lakeland teacher, and the father of a second grader and a soon-to-be kindergartner at Lincoln-Titus Elementary School. As an attorney, I have dedicated my career to public service, working for both state and local government, and served for more than a decade as a Westchester County Assistant District Attorney. I have been a member of the board of directors of several non-profits, volunteer with Cortlandt American Little League, and am a past vice-president of the Lincoln-Titus PTA. This community has always been my home and I have worked hard to make it a better place to live.
2) The Lakeland Central School District has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember, and my education in Lakeland schools formed the bedrock of my educational and professional achievements. Watching my daughter flourish in this district, and being a PTA dad, has renewed my appreciation for Lakeland schools. With my son entering kindergarten in the fall, Lakeland will continue to be part of my life for many years to come.
Now, I want to join the Lakeland Board of Education to help ensure that our district never ceases exploring new avenues for student achievement, and continues to adapt to an ever-changing educational landscape. If elected, I look forward to collaborating with all who contribute to Lakeland’s continued success. I value the viewpoints of parents, teachers, students, administrators, support staff, and taxpayers, and will strive to balance competing interests and work toward common goals. I believe that a high-quality education leads to a brighter future, and I want to see Lakeland continue to maximize the potential of each and every student, much as it did for me.
3) Above all, our district must prioritize an educational philosophy that seeks to achieve academic growth for all students. We need to provide a curriculum that uplifts students who need help, challenges those in the middle, and enriches our more advanced performers. I support arts-rich schools, with competitive athletics, that offer varied extracurricular activities. Second, in today’s world, the safety and security of our schools is also a concern. I plan to draw upon my more than a decade of experience in working with Westchester County law enforcement agencies to make sure our schools take every measure necessary to protect our children, but at the same time remain a welcoming, nurturing environment for students to learn. Last, but certainly not least, finances are always a top priority for our district. That is why I will work to provide Lakeland’s teachers and students with the tools they need to achieve excellence, but remain mindful of our obligation to be careful stewards of taxpayers’ dollars.