BRIARCLIFF MANOR, N.Y. With both Guy Rotondo and Eric Bashford not seeking re-election, newcomers Dina Brantman and Michael Haberman will vie for the two open spots on the Briarcliff Board of Education in the May 15 election.
Residents will have a chance to vote for the school board candidates on May 15 the same day residents will vote on the districts proposed $47.65 million budget. Brantman and Haberman recently spoke at a Meet the Candidates night on several issues. The Daily Briarcliff asked each candidate to fill out a candidate questionnaire and some basic information. Below are Brantman's unedited answers.
Name: Dina Brantman Age: 44 Occupation: I am currently at home with my 3 children. Prior to staying home, I practiced law for over 10 years Family status: Married to Rob. 3 children, a freshman in high school, a 4th grader and a preschooler who will enter kindergarten in the fall Years lived in Briarcliff Manor: Almost 9 years
1. What qualifies you to be a school board member?
Brantman: Both my professional training as an attorney and my community service qualify me to be a school board member. I am an eight-year member of the Briarcliff Manor Education Foundation, two of which I served as co-president, and I recently served as the co-chairperson of the Briarcliff Board of Education Ad Hoc Facilities Committee. Through my involvement in the BMEF and as co-chairperson of the Ad Hoc Facilities Committee, I have had the privilege of working with many community residents with diverse interests and I have demonstrated an ability to bring different constituencies together to achieve a common goal. Being a trustee on the school board is the next step for me in serving our school community. I also believe that my professional training as an attorney will bring a perspective and a skill set to the board that has been absent for several years.
2. What would you like to accomplish if elected?
Brantman: Michael Haberman, also running for school board, and I discussed this particular subject at the Meet the Candidates Night last week. We have a three point plan that focuses on education, budget and community. In terms of education, we need to focus on a comprehensive K-12 curriculum and explore new ways to integrate technology into the curriculum to prepare our children for an ever changing world. We have also both agree that we need to have a three year budget plan that aligns spending with education goals. This will help us determine how those goals can be met while at the same time controlling spending and efficiently allocating our resources. We also would like to propose that an evaluation system is set up for new programs and for prior budget cuts. Evaluation and reflection will ensure that new programs are working for our children and that the cuts made to our budget over the last few years are not adversely impacting educational experience. Finally, how our community is involved in the school board's meeting needs to be addressed. The public comment process at board meetings needs to be changed to ensure that public comments are heard and taken into account by the board before voting on issues. Community also encompasses our educators. Our school board needs to be able to work openly and collaboratively with our educators to ensure that the board is making the best decisions for our district in terms of ensuring that a high quality education is delivered to all students.
3. If something had to be cut from the budget to meet the state tax cap, what would you cut?
Brantman: It's difficult to answer that question in a vacuum. I would have to have a full set of facts in front of me regarding what the district's priorities were for the year in terms of budgeting and programs and how we were going to meet that budget while at the same time accomplishing the educational goals that have been set for our children. If the budget could not be met in terms of the tax cap, I would need to have a discussion with the administrators and with my fellow board members and any decision regarding cuts would have to be made based on the advice of the administrators regarding cuts that would have the least impact on student education and also based on the priorities of the community.
4. What are the three biggest issues facing the school today?
Brantman: First, unfunded mandates. There are many mandates being handed down to school district's, including Briarcliff, from the state level that are putting further strains on already tight budgets. Districts can not continue to fund these mandates from Albany and maintain high quality education programs while at the same time being vigilant about rising taxes. Second, the closed fields at the high school campus is a continuing issue that has consumed many district resources. Third, ensuring that our K-12 curriculum is comprehensive and that we are providing our children with the best education and integrating technology at all levels in an appropriate and thoughtful way.
5. If elected, what would you do about those issues?
Brantman: Briarcliff needs to become involved with other similar positioned districts throughout Westchester and have a strong voice in Albany on these mandates as well as other important issues facing public education. With regard to the closed fields, I would make it a priority that these fields be remediated according to a plan approved by the DEC and reopened as quickly as possible. This is important not only for the school but for our entire community. Finally, the district is moving in the right direction with regard to a comprehensive K-12 curriculum with hiring a curriculum director. I would like to see that person in place in the district during the summer so that their work can begin before the next school year and I would want to have a discussion with my fellow board members that the curriculum director make it one of his or her priorities to begin a review of technology being used in the district, how that technology is being used in the classroom and how our district can make improvements in that area.
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