Wow! What a race for school board!
I want to thank all those people who came out to vote Tuesday, especially those 1,796 voters that cast their votes for Financial Accountability, Transparency, Equity and Excellence.
We came up 172 votes short out of 8,546 votes cast or 2% of the total votes cast. We did not win but last night, surrounded by an incredible group of volunteers who came together from all parts of the City, it sure did not feel like a loss. There is always a lot of talk in New Rochelle about "celebrating diversity" but our campaign brought together as diverse a group as your are going to see: North End and South End, East End and West End, African-American, Latino and White, Young and Old, Christians and Jews of many denominations, professionals, working class, housewives, civic leaders, elected officials, veterans, municipal and school district employees and more. These are people who came together on the fly, from very different walks of life but all united by a common desire to restore Financial Accountability, Transparency, Equity and Excellence to our schools.
UPDATE: We just got the official canvas. There were 5,028 votes cast up from about 3,900 last year or a 27% increase or about 12% of registered voters up from about 9%. That was the impact of our campaign on voter turnout.
Somewhere along the way, from turning in our petitions to get on the ballot at the end of April until Election Day yesterday, this year's race for school board became about something larger than any individual candidate. In just three weeks, the race was transformed into a referendum on out-of-touch leadership in both our school district and our municipal government, people fed up with ever-increasing taxes, going up in inverse proportion to the decline in the quality and integrity of the product offered by our City and Schools and dissatisfaction with our current leadership.
Almost 1,800 people came to the polls Tuesday, many being people who normally do not vote in school board elections, to say with one voice "enough is enough, we deserve better". It is those people I intend to represent at future Board of Education meetings.
The returns by polling place say a lot about the school district specifically and the state of New Rochelle generally.
I won every South End school -- Jefferson, Columbus, Trinity and Isaac. I also won Holy Name and City Park and came in second at the Martin Luther King Center and New Rochelle High School. I was particularly gratified to come in second at MLK as I worked hard to ask for that vote and got it.
I ran 1st or 2nd at 8 of 13 polling places. The two winning candidates ran 1-2 at the other 5, all of the North End schools. The results reflect what I have been writing about here on Talk of the Sound and talking about on WVOX Talk of the Sound Radio. Residents in the West End, South End, East End and the City Center are dissatisfied with the performance of the administration of the school system - increasing expenses, higher taxes and general financial mismanagement. Their children are experiencing a fundamentally different educational experience and they do not like it. The North End districts of Webster, Barnard, Davis, Ward and ALMS are generally satisfied with the schools. I appreciate that as my children, at one time or another, have attended each of those five schools. If that's all you know, the New Rochelle schools are great but where does that leave the rest of the community? That's one divide we need to bridge in this community.
Another divide is between public school parents and those who choose to place their children in private and parochial schools. These children have the same claim on the attention and concerns of the Board of Education as any child in the public schools, both morally and legally. Schools Superintendent Richard Organisciak's decision to exploit this divide in order to pass a school budget, pitting neighbor against neighbor, was a cowardly and cynical maneuver that served only to tear communities apart. It was easily among the most shameful episodes in his career as Superintendent in New Rochelle, a career littered with such episodes.
Yet another divide to bridge is between the people who benefit directly from their children being in the public schools and those who generously fund those schools despite not having school-age children. The budget process shows a complete lack of respect for those people who fund the district but especially those without children. One issue that came across loud and clear in this campaign, and was echoed even by the "anointed" establishment candidates, is that entire budget process is Kabuki Theater where Assistant Superintendent Quinn is allowed by the board to waste hundreds of man hours reading aloud every line in the budget, a document that any interested person could read at home prior to the budget meetings if only it was provided to them in advance.
What should be clear is that New Rochelle is currently ruled by a relatively small but organized group that runs the City and the School District for their own narrow interest at the expense of every other resident. The last divide to bridge is that between the perception of invincibility that the North End political machine has cultivated and the reality that an ad hoc, rag tag army of volunteers came within two percentage points of taking them down on their home turf.
To those who manned the barricades this time, my thanks. To those who will join us next time, welcome.Read more
Candidate Forums on TV/Web Video (Cablevision Channel 77, Verizon Channel 30)
The PTA Council School Board Candidate Forum is tonight at the New Rochelle High School Library.
Apparently the PTA has limited resources to promote this public event outside of the PTA membership so we are going to lend a hand and mention it here and ask folks to email this article around to their friend so that the entire community is aware of this public event. I am sure they want as much voter participation possible. Come support your favorite candidate.
The forum will also be televised and available on the NRED website.
The only people asking questions at the forum will be representatives of SEPTA and each of the PTA units.
The format is as follows:
2 minutes for welcome
1 minute for each school board candidate to make an opening statement
11 questions from PTA units with each candidate having the opportunity to make a 1 minute response
2 minutes for each school board candidate to make a closing statement.
See you there!Read more
The letter below was sent home to parents of children at Jefferson Elementary School. The district asked that we publish this letter to correct an inaccurate comment made on this site. Jordano is coming to New Rochelle under difficult circumstances, replacing alleged child molester Jose Martinez who abruptly resigned as Assistant Principal and was arrested by New Rochelle police two weeks later. Talk of the Sound was the first to report on Martinez' resignation and arrest. Jordan has recent experience with crisis management have been the Principal at the Traphagen Elementary School in Mount Vernon when his student, Ayana Evans, a 9-year-old girl, was murdered by her father. Evans had previously been enrolled in the New Rochelle school system at Ward and Trinity.
April 8, 2011
It does appear that a letter was sent home by the school explaining Mr. Jordano's hiring. However, the "bookbag" monster does appear to have taken this letter from our child because it did not make it home to us (I did mention this was a possiblity in the original blog--kids lose letters). This is the reason why we check the school's website (which generally does have a lot of information on it) to make sure we are as up to date as possible. My point on communication is that, considering all of the recent events and considering this hiring is related to this unfortunate incident, let's use all possible avenues to communicate this hiring, including the school's website, the robo-call, and maybe even this website to announce major events. I know we are not the only ones who just learned of this.Read more
Has Ms. Nieves and the BOE learned nothing from the way they handled the communication issues with the Martinez case? I just noticed that Joseph Jordano is listed as Jefferson's new AP. An Internet search of Mr. Jordano revealed that he was the long time principal of a highly succesful Westchester elementary school prior to his retirement.
It would have been very nice of the school to send home a small notice explaining that Mr. Jordano was now serving as the AP along with his credentials. Considering the recent issues with personnel, you would think that the school would have sent home this letter to give parents some sort of insight into who this person is. Now, it is possible that the bookbag monster ate the letter that may have explained this, but our child assures us that no letter was sent home. Apparently, some type of introduction did take place to the students as our child knew that Mr. Jordano was retired.Read more
As readers have noticed, the web site has been relatively inactive for the past couple of days as I have been devoting time to organizing my campaign for the New Rochelle Board of Education. The election is May 17th, just 2 weeks from today!
Tonight is the first event of this very brief campaign, a forum where all six candidates running for school board in New Rochelle have been invited: Robert Cox, Naomi Brickell, Rachel Relkin, Peter O'Keeffe, Dr. Salvador A. Fernandez, Colin J. Thomas. The event is being hosted by the End Civic Association at Halligan Hall at Holy Name Church. There will be three additional scheduled candidates forum’s, one sponsored by The League of Women Voters on May 9th at 7:00 p.m., one by the PTA on May 11th at 7:00 p.m. at New Rochelle High School and one by WVOX, 1460 AM on May 13, from 11 a.m. until noon where callers will ask questions on a live broadcast.
There has been so much excitement getting ready for the campaign, I forgot to announce that the district held the drawing last Thursday for poll position on the voting machine ballot and we managed to get the first spot on the ballot! I hope that is a sign of things to come!
FUNDRAISER THIS SATURDAY NIGHT!
The campaign will be holding its only fundraiser this Saturday night at the American Legion Hall, Post 8 at 112 North Avenue from 7 p.m. until 11 p.m. Of course this is a spontaneous event given the nature of the short campaign so we really need your help to spread the word: please email and call your friends today. This is not your typical fundraiser. We want everyone to have a good time, raise some money for a good cause (electing me to the school board!) and build excitement for brining real change to the New Rochelle Board of Education. We've got 100 tickets available at $40 per ticket for which you get ice-cold soda, beer, wine, delicious food provided by AJ's Burgers and great entertainment -- DJ Carlos Sanchez, Keyboardist Matthew Pryce and the always rockin' A to Z Band playing your favorite cover tunes -- this is going to be a fun event. It is the first time ever that Talk of the Sound readers will have an impromptu gathering in one place. I am curious myself as to who will be there. Any excess funds in the campaign will go directly to the victory party the night of May 17th.
Folks have been buying tickets before we even announced so hurry up, RSVP now via email at [email protected] or call me directly at 914-500-8386 and I will put you on the guest list. We will give you instructions on payment options -- check via the mail, check or cash in person either before or at the door or online via credit card or PayPal.
UPDATE: Some folks have been asking about whether this is a kid-friendly event. Yes. I am bringing my two younger kids but would figure my wife will want to run them home about 8:30 p.m. or 9:00 p.m. The rock band will be coming on about then so it is likely to be a bit loud for younger kids at which point it would be more of an adult event but to each their own. Everyone is welcome!
As for the hard work over the past few days, the hardest part has been crafting the message of the campaign and getting that message into the "palm cards", both English and Spanish. That was accomplished over the weekend and fine tuned until today, they went to the printers this morning and we should be ready in time for the weekend. As a Talk of the Sound reader, you get to have a sneak preview right here (feel free to email this article around to your friends and family!).
Click "read more" to see the new palm cards.Read more
This is a short campaign with a lot to do and every little bit helps. You can call me directly at 914-500-8386 or email at [email protected] but for specific items it will be quicker for you to contact the appropriate campaign team leader:
1. Host a Lawn Sign or Window Sign: If you are interested in spreading the word please contact Greg Pryce at [email protected]
2. Absentee Ballots: If you need an absentee ballot or want to help put absentee ballots into the hands of voters who will be out of town on May 17 or senior citizen voters who cannot make it to the polls on election day please contact John D'Alois at [email protected]
3. Phone Bank: We want to make phone calls to registered voters the week before the election. We need English and Spanish speaking volunteers. If you are interested please contact TBD at [email protected]
4. Election Day Poll Watchers: We need to have two people for each of the 12 polling places (the 10 public schools plus Holy Name and MLK Center at 95 Lincoln and 570 Fifth Avenue). If you are interested please contact Mickey Boyle at [email protected]Read more