MAY 12, 2017

‘Times of turbulence’ around school votes? Hardly.

The community frictions on display heading into the school board elections and budget votes on Tuesday appear muted in comparison with some of last year’s tense, angry battles. Divisive issues remain beneath the surface, especially in Bedford Central, despite the show of unity at the Boards of Education, which passed next year’s proposed school budgets by unanimous votes.

As they were at this time last year, battle lines have once again been drawn in Bedford Central. The key 2017 race is a match between an incumbent trustee, Ed Reder, who is respected by many, and a popular challenger, Marie Scanlan, who also enjoys strong backing. This one could be a squeaker, the outcome turning on which side produces the best turnout.

Before recapping what’s on the ballot for voters in both districts, let’s take a minute to appreciate the sound and stable process our communities follow in electing our school board members and approving our district budgets. No matter how much mudslinging and name-calling our local elections might spark, we watch what is going on in Washington and conclude that things are pretty calm here. No sudden firings of top personnel, no investigations into possible meddling by a foreign adversary, no charges of obstructing the judicial process. “Times of turbulence” ousted FBI Director James Comey called these days. For our part, we can still hear the songs of our spring birds, even if a chill does remain in the air.

Now, a brief look at the ballots, and our endorsements.


Katonah-Lewisboro

KLSD voters will consider two propositions. One is for approval of next year’s general fund budget, the other is for authorization for the district to purchase nine passenger vans as replacements. The proposed budget, at $106.8 million, represents a slight annual gain and calls for a 1.72 percent tax levy increase, under the state cap. The spending rise is due mainly to cover staff health benefits. The administration touts the budget as advancing the district’s “learning commitment” by continuing investments in language labs, technology and teaching skills development, among other areas. True, but getting class size right at a time of declining enrollment while trying to hold down staffing expenses poses its own challenges. On balance, we support the budget as proposed. The van replacement measure, at a cost up to $454,000, also seems sound as a safety measure.

In the race for school board, Scott Posner, Bill Rifkin and Ruth White are vying for two seats. The two finishers with the most votes will win. Their three-year terms begin July 1.

We believe that Mr. Posner and Dr. Rifkin deserve to retain their seats. As outlined in our candidates roundtable last week, each has made important contributions to the board in areas including financial effectiveness, technology deployment and performance metrics. Ms. White, an academic editor by trade, has expressed enthusiasm for public service but otherwise has offered no particularly compelling reason for her candidacy.


Bedford Central

The proposed $129 million budget steers clear of raising extra revenue through a tax cap override, a strategy rejected by enough voters to block its passage a year ago. The tax levy would increase by 1.92 percent and no fund reserves would be drawn down to help make ends meet. The budget’s failure to reinstate harsh cuts to programs and resources implemented this year to close the budget gap gives us pause, but we see how that stance supports the district’s struggle to address its structural imbalance. It’s not a pretty picture, but in light of BCSD’s immense challenges we think the budget plan is a viable, and politically acceptable, step in the direction of long-term fiscal health.

Bill Canavan is running unopposed for Andrew Bracco’s seat. In the race that is generating all the heat, Ms. Scanlan, Mr. Canavan’s running mate, brings strong qualifications. As a founding member of the Foundation for Bedford Central Schools, she has developed a working knowledge of many of the challenges facing the district. However, in our opinion Mr. Reder is the better choice. In times like these, though they may not qualify as “turbulent,” at least this year, his proven experience dealing with the district’s fiscal, academic and enrollment issues, and his efforts, at times vilified, to build bridges between warring constituent groups, merit his re-election. 

If this year’s relatively smooth sailing at the board level proves anything, it is that the current mix of trustees is functioning well as a unit. Mr. Reder should have the chance to continue to drive that progress.


Read more local coverage of your hometown in this week’s issue of the The Record-Review. Newsstand copies are available at several locations listed above, or subscribe today for convenient home delivery.


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NEWSSTAND LOCATIONS

Pound Ridge/Scotts Corners

  1. Scotts Corner Market,Trinity Corners Shopping Center, 55 Westchester Avenue

  2. Pound Ridge Sunoco, 66 Westchester Avenue    


Bedford Village

  1. Bedford Rexall Pharmacy, Hunting Ridge Mall; 424 Old Post Road  

  2. Village Green Deli, Village Green; Routes 22 and 172    

  3. Bedford Shell, Routes 22 and 172 (at blinking light); 848 So. Bedford Road

  4. Village Service Center, 193 Pound Ridge Road (at Long Ridge Road intersection)    


Bedford Hills

  1. Bedford Hills Deli, Babbitt Road    

  2. Bueti’s Deli, 526 Bedford Road (Route 117)

  3. Meme’s Treats, 17 Adams Street


Katonah

  1. Little Joe’s Books, 25 Katonah Avenue     

  2. CVS – Katonah Shopping Center, 294 Katonah Avenue   

  3. Katonah Sunoco, 105 Bedford Road

  4. The Reading Room, 19 Edgemont Road

  5. Weinstein’s Pharmacy, 101 Katonah Avenue

  6. DeCicco Family Markets, 132 Bedford Road

  7. Katonah Pharmacy, 202 Katonah Avenue


Mount Kisco

  1. Teamo/Mt. Kisco News, 239 Main Street    


Cross River

  1. Cross River Shell Station, Route 35    

  2. Cameron’s Deli. 890 Route 35

  3. Cross River Pharmacy, 20 North Salem Road

  4. DeCicco Family Markets, 1 Orchard Plaza


Goldens Bridge

Cardware Store, 100 N. County Shopping Center

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