The Northern Westchester Examiner

Two Seats Up for Grabs in Ossining Board of Ed Race

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In Ossining, four candidates are running for two available seats on the Board of Education when voters go May 15 from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. at Ossining High School.

Trustee Diana Lemon is the only incumbent in the race with Felix Flores not seeking a second term. Also on the ballot are Melissa Banta, Katherin Crossling and Aaron Spring. (Lemon did not respond to several emails seeking responses to a few questions.)

Katherin Crossling

  • What is your occupation and how long have you lived in the district?

    I have lived in Ossining for 10 years with my husband and we have 3 boys, ages 7, 5 and 7 months. I am an attorney with a strong public service background (Vera Institute of Justice, Tulane Legal Defense Clinic and the Bronx District Attorney’s Office).  A graduate of Duke University and Tulane Law, I am now in private practice in the field of Healthcare Law with the firm Heidell, Pittoni, Murphy & Bach, LLP.

    2) Why are you running for a seat on the Board of Education this year?

    There are a few reason why I am running.  I am a problem solver and that is what the BOE needs. Over the past few years, I have brought about direct and positive change for students of all backgrounds and socioeconomic levels.  A few years ago, I saw a need for educational enrichment that focused on skills not easily taught in the classroom setting. I researched and pitched bringing Destination Imagination (DI) to Ossining.  DI is a national not for profit that teaches students how to collaboratively problem solve unique challenges based in science, technology, engineering and the arts while focusing on the development of soft skills such as self-confidence, positivity, emotional intelligence, flexibility, friendliness and communication. DI was thriving in all surrounding districts and I wanted Ossining’s students to have the opportunity to participate.  I modeled the program to cost nothing to the district. The program gives parents
    access to their child’s education and brings them directly into the learning process to facilitate educational growth.

    I have been fearless when it comes to fighting for Ossining’s children and community. This year, I formed a community advocacy group to expose businesses alleged to be operating as erotic massage parlors in Ossining Village in close proximity to the schools. My advocacy group not only raised awareness, but we proposed an action plan to the Village Board of Trustees.  Within two weeks of the presentation, two of the businesses were shut down and arrests were made at one of the locations.  My commitment to the cause did not end.  I continued to work with Village officials to propose Code changes to ensure that similar businesses were prevented from opening in the future.  My commitment to tackling difficult community issues in a way that achieves real and tangible results combined with my determined will for excellence for all of Ossining’s children has led me to seek a seat with the Board of Education.

    3) What do you feel are the most pressing issues facing the district?

    Increasing enrollment and underfunding from the state are two of the most significant issues facing our district and will continue to be significant over the next few years. I have proposed a two part approach to increasing Ossining’s foundation aid that includes sustained lobbying efforts in support of a legislative carve out for the 16-18 other statewide “harmed” districts.  We can work with advocacy groups to engage in joint lobbying efforts for the legislative carve out. The carve out would be targeted to make Ossining whole from a budget perspective. In addition to continued community driven joint lobbying efforts, I have researched targeted litigation options on behalf of Ossining. The litigation would be designed to remove something called the Hold Harmless provision of the Foundation Aid formula. The provision essentially states that no district can ever receive less money from the foundation aid formula than they first received in 2007 regardless of whether or not their district enrollment went down. As a result, wealthy districts become wealthier and districts like Ossining have their money shunted to other districts. My proposed litigation would seek to remove the Hold Harmless as arbitrary and discriminatory. I am hopeful with this targeted approach we can recoup some of the monetary losses that have
    burdened Ossining’s schools.

    In addition to budgeting and housing I would also prioritize addressing the social emotional needs of all students.  Addressing these needs will help bridge the achievement gap and further the
    district’s dedication to providing equity to all students.  Research has also shown that small class sizes in early elementary and placing parents in leadership roles are two of the most effective ways to bridge the achievement gap. I am committed to balancing a budget while keeping class size low and finding creative ways to place parents in active leadership roles. I also see ways the district can capitalize on low cost community collaborations to better utilize resources.

Melissa Banta


1) My occupations include a career of 15 years in Profit and Non-Profit Healthcare business

administration. I also volunteer as Co-president of OPACC (a parent organization in the district),

I have a dedicated passion for advocating in support of equity in education, and mental health

awareness. I have lived in Ossining my entire life.

2) As my advocacy efforts have allowed me to work closely with the district for the past several

years, I am fully aware of the many intricacies involved when working toward an equilibrium.

Currently serving on the school equity and budget advisory committees, I am highly adept to the

overarching qualities of group dynamics when working to achieve these goals. It would be an

honor to serve on the Board of Education, continuing to support the abundant efforts that have

contributed to transforming the Ossining School District into a responsible, prosperous, inclusive

academic environment.

3) Securing the necessary and deserved foundation aid the district is owed. Having adequate

funding would allow the district the financial equity necessary, to increase successful academic

outcomes for all students.


Aaron Spring

  • I currently work as a legal intern for a local law firm in Ossining, I am an accounting and pre-law student at Fordham University. I have lived in the district my entire life, went through the Ossining public school system, and graduated Ossining high school in 2015.
  • I am running for multiple reasons. Firstly, I have been fighting Albany since May 2015 on the foundation aid issue as a community member, and want to work with our state representatives as a board member to relinquish our status as the most underfunded school district in the state. I believe Albany should not be playing politics when it comes to education, and would like to see them equitably and fairly fund our schools so that we can address mental health issues, expand and extend day activities for the younger grades, provide additional funding to the guidance department to help seniors apply to college and underclassmen learn about college and better prepare for standardized testing. I am also running because the taxes are too high in this community and we need common sense relief, we need to pursue a budget that keeps taxes flat, as an increase every year is driving people out of this community. I am running because I understand the experiences and obstacles that the children of Ossining are going through, and I believe I can offer them a voice and work with the board to address their concerns, as I can relate to them.
  • Two pressing issues facing the district are foundation aid and taxes. We currently receive 42% of the foundation aid that Albany owes us, making us the most underfunded district in the state. We need to work with Albany and hold our legislators accountable to ensure that Ossining receives fair funding so that we can give every child the chance they deserve. If we receive this money, we can expand day activities, better address the mental health of children, expand art, music, and athletic programs etc. The second issue is taxes, as they are simply too high for people to be able to afford to live here. People are moving out of this community in droves, and it is unfair that our seniors continue to get pushed out because of a lack of fiscal management by the board. We need to pursue a flat tax budget for once, and I will fight to do that.

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