The Putnam Examiner

Putnam Valley School Board and Budget Preview

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The Putnam Valley Central School District had an easy budget season where the tax levy was decreased .50 percent resulting in total budget of $47.9 million with additional state aid coming to the district.

Guy Cohen- Incumbent

Guy Cohen is no stranger to the Putnam Valley Board of Education having served from 1983 through 1996 before taking a break and rejoining the board in 2003, serving continually since that time. He said he believes that his decades of experience on the board, as well as his involvement in community activities, give him the skills to help the district provide students with the best possible education. “I truly believe that our children, our students are our future and I must give them the tools to lead the way,” he said. Cohen believes the current environment has turned education into a political issue and stated he needs to find ways to continue to put the students first while balancing quality education with state funding. Like many, he believes that the Common Core was not implemented properly and stated that he believes the curriculum should have been rolled out in the younger grades and then slowly brought into the higher grades. “How does one implement (the Common Core) in tenth grade when the student has not had the Common Core skills taught in previous grades,” he questioned, while emphasizing the flaw in the roll-out. Cohen also believes that, under the new Annual Professional Performance Review system, too much emphasis is placed on standardized tests. If Cohen is successful in winning the election for another term on the board, he stated that his goals would remain the same as they always were. He hopes to set policies and procedures to ensure students have a quality education while also hiring the necessary administrators to support that goal.

David Spittal- Incumbent

Incumbent David Spittal was originally appointed to serve on the Putnam Valley Board of Education in 2010 before being elected to serve a full term in 2012. He stated that the experience of being part of the team that helped guide the district in a positive direction has been a rewarding and enjoyable experience, which is why he has decided to run for another term. Spittal believes that the rushed implementation of the Common Core and Annual Professional Performance Review has created unnecessary stress on students and teachers due to an increased emphasis on testing, but he also noted that there are other issues facing the district. He noted that one of the biggest issues currently facing the district is the need to replace retiring faculty members and stated that the board will need to take time and conduct a thorough search for the best candidates. “We have to refuse to settle. Leadership is important,” he said. Spittal also explained that it is important to continue to explore programs that allow the district to reach beyond the Common Core and to provide resources that support quality and competitive opportunities. He cited the Authentic Science Research Program, which allows students with a passion for science to perform in-depth research on a topic as an example of the types of programs he would like to see implemented. “My hope is that we are able to provide additional opportunities of this caliber,” he said. Spittal stated that he also would like to see the Board of Education continue to provide resources to support professional development in order to allow teachers to continue to adapt and meet the challenges of their profession.


Daniel Vera

Daniel Vera is running for his first term on the Putnam Valley Board of Education, although he has been heavily involved in education in the past. Manager of Operation for the New York City School Construction Authority for the past 18 years, Vera has had extensive interaction with school administrators, PTAs and community organizations, which he believes has given him an extensive knowledge of what makes a school system successful. Vera became involved with the Putnam Valley district as a member of the district’s citizen’s advisory committee and stated that he decided to run for a seat on the Board of Education because he wanted to be part of the decision making process for the district and to help make a difference. Vera explained that his main goal, if elected, is to help inspire the community to get behind the school district and offer support. He noted that when people talk about the school, the first thing most people say is that the taxes are too high and Vera hopes to shift the attention to some of the more positive things that the district has accomplished. “Nobody mentions how good the education program is and what we’re offering our children and how we’re developing our children to be successful citizens and I want to turn that around,” he said. The grandfather to nine children under the age of eight, he has seen the difficulties of the Common Core and stated that he does not personally believe that it is the right system to educate students. However, he feels that it is not his place as a potential Board of Education trustee to make a decision on whether or not the curriculum is effective. He stated that that determination needs to remain with the educators, who are in the classroom with students every day. “It’s our educators that have to stand up; our teachers, principals, superintendents that have to stand up and say ‘Hey, this is not working in our school. This is not what we want our children to learn’ or maybe they’ll say this is something that’s very good,” said Vera.

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