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Finances Top Priority For New Ossining BOE Member

OSSINING, N.Y. – With summer vacation about half over, Graig Galef, a new Board of Education member, has already begun thinking about a multi-year financial plan for Ossining schools.

"I think anybody can make better decisions today if you know what your future looks like," said Galef, who is a financial and insurance planner for the Rye Brook-based company Strategies For Wealth. "I'd like to focus on next year's budget as soon as September or October of this year so that we have enough time to really think through decisions there."

Galef has two children, ages six and eight, in Ossining schools and he became interested in running for the school board last year because he saw the need for the board to have someone with a financial background.

"You need a mix of skills on the board – good educators, people committed to education and also people with financial backgrounds as part of that conversation," he said.

The schools district's $103 million budget that carried a tax levy increase of 1.75 percent for residents passed narrowly in May by a vote of 52 percent.

Galef said he saw that there was not a long-term financial plan in place for schools, and he ran on the platform that he could fill that void.

"I think the main focus is to figure out how to provide quality education for less money," he said.

Galef also seeks to provide better communication between schools and the community by reaching out to the community in formats other than board meetings, which people often do not have time to attend.

Galef said he is excited to be one of three new members of Ossining's Board of Education, which has seven people in total. The two other new members are Frank Schnecker and Steve Wardwell.

Galef's mother, Sandy Galef, is a state assemblywoman. Galef said his interest in the school board is separate from what his mother does, and he has no ambitions to embark on a political career.

Aside from being on the school district's Board of Education, Galef is also on the board for the Ossining Children's Center, a child care organization for children up to 11 years old.

"It's on a much smaller scale, but there's definitely some of the same objectives of educating kids without a lot of money," Galef said.

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