Six candidates are vying for three available seats on the Hendrick Hudson Board of Education on Tuesday, May 21 in the only contested race in the area.
Incumbents seeking new three-year terms in Hendrick Hudson are board Vice President Carol Abraham and trustees Lisa Anderson and William Oricchio.
During a recent forum, Abraham, Anderson and Oricchio predominately mentioned the financial challenges facing the district with the scheduled closing of the Indian Point nuclear power plants in the Village of Buchanan, which will leave the district with an annual shortfall of $24 million, 33% of its operating budget.
“The primary challenge will be the change in our revenue stream and how to replace that,” said Abraham, who has served seven years as a trustee, the last two as board vice president. “It is a crucial time to have an experienced, knowledgeable team. We will need board members who have proven they can work together.”
Anderson said the board and district officials will have to “reassess what’s really important to us” with the loss of revenue from Indian Point.
“I think we will be able to do it,” said Anderson, a 12-year resident with three children attending district schools who is seeking a second term.
Oricchio, a 30-year resident of Verplanck and a certified public accountant, has served nine total years on the board and agreed a cohesive board is the most effective.
“I think we should keep continuity, especially with Indian Point moving out of our area,” he said. “We will have to make some changes to keep taxes at a reasonable rate.”
Running as a slate opposing the incumbents are Robert McCarthy, Kimberly Ryan and Daniel Stewart.
“The Hendrick Hudson School district is entering a very difficult time with the closure of Indian Point, and the financial impact that will be felt throughout. I feel that my experience handling tight budgetary constraints will help me better understand the issues we will face, and find a way to work within the confines the District is presented, to provide the best academic environment for our children without a major impact on our taxpayers,” said McCarthy, a water and sewer grade two maintenance technician for Westchester County who has two children in the district.
“Why am I running? The best answer is we need change. The Board is a three-year term not indefinitely. The status quo becomes an obstacle to improvement,” Ryan stated. “When I announced my candidacy, I never thought I would face criticism and negativity. But, I’m ready and I know I will represent you to the best of my ability. As with any Board, the relationship with the Superintendent is important; however, we need to ask serious questions about our financial position, we need to have teachers speak openly about problems with the curriculum, we need to encourage every community member to have a voice in the district, so we need CHANGE.”
“I am running for the board for several reasons. I believe I am a problem solver and would be a great asset in helping navigate our district with the changes we are facing,” said Stewart, a Hendrick Hudson High School graduate and father of two boys in the district “Over the course of my insurance career I have served on numerous boards and advisory panels. In addition, I feel there is a disconnect with the current board and our community, I would like to try and repair the disconnect and build a trust between the board and the people we serve.”
Voters will also be weighing-in on the 2019/2020 proposed $80 million budget, which carries an estimated 2.19% tax increase for Cortlandt residents and an estimated 4.11% tax decrease for Peekskill residents. A proposition not to exceed $417,200 for the purchase of two 72-passenger buses, two 18-passenger vans and an SUV-type vehicle to be shared by security personnel also appears on the ballot.
The Board of Education and budget vote will take place Tuesday, May 21 from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. at Frank G. Lindsey Elementary School.