A Note From Warren, His support for Bob Cox!
I am in full support of Bob Cox quest to become a member of the New Rochelle School Board and I urge all residents to support him. The reason is simple; the man fully understands the educational challenges facing our City and has the courage to address these and yes, to do so in a collaborative way with his colleagues. I no longer post on Talk of the Sound, not because of any issue with Cox, but with the fact that I became a Commissioner in the Human Rights Commission and following, regretfully had to resign due to health reasons. I also am a supporter of Noam Bramson and will remain one as he seeks higher County office.
So, why Bob Cox? Bob understands the mechanics and the shortcomings of the district. He has written passionately on the issues and has added value to the board and the community and I think at long last this value is being recognized. He has a business perspective long absent from the board and while there has been improvement, it needs a strong voice.
I have written often in Talk of the Sound and in correspondence to the Mayor and Council members about my views which take somewhat of a different but complementary tack to Bob Cox's. Foremost, is the need for New Rochelle's administration to develop a formal working relationship with the School Board? It is essential from a number of perspectives; for example, can you reasonably expect investment by both commercial and residential potential investors if our school district is lacking in both productivity and graduation statistics. Our productivity has slipped considerably an area that Bob has talked about often. As someone who is an experienced business leader as well as a former loaned executive to the Washington DC school district, I have a pretty good idea of the importance of formal business arrangements between City administration and School District administration. I also am quite disturbed over the lack of strong collective bargaining between the district and the unions; it resembles more of a "sweetheart contract" than actual give and take negotiation. Of course there are hurdles in terms of unfunded mandates, but these hurdles do not affect the lack of concrete information on infrastructure planning. We have one high school and two middle schools in a city of over 70,000 residents and this is quite problematic. I have often spoke of the issues around Certiorari which essentially is an avoidance tactic on proper real estate assessment as it is no more than a posteriori or back door reassessment and the more astute members of the school board see the difficulties in proper financial management and resource planning under this form of arrangement.
Bob will also look at the shortcomings of our principal and senior support base and the new era of accountability requires that this be done. We need to stop whining about "teaching to the test" for one.....people need to understand that each subject for each grade calls for terminal objectives that need to be reached. It does not call for pulling a prior test and using it as part of core curricula and I think Bob understands this and will be instrumental in taking leadership in this area. And, let me tell you that the rationalizations you may have heard about separation of powers between district and city are hogwash. The NYS legislation in 1987/88 simply called for the community to vote on school budgets and on the election of board members. It did not mandate separation and several cities in New York State, Albany being one, have made adjustments. In fact, the school trustee and budget voting could be moved to the conventional November period if desired. And, I cannot understand why some infrastructure relief could not have been part of a discussion with the Diocese when Blessed Sacrament announced it was closing its doors. And, as far as the "details" of staffing, payment, etc.... simple if you have the will to think outside of the box.
Cox can think outside of the box. His personal politics are irrelevant to me. He is not running for council membership, he is not a lawyer or an educator, he is an ex business man and media specialist. He has the necessary base to serve.
Finally we have a fine citizen who, for some reason unknown to me, is not in the current hierarchy of School Board trusteeship. He is Jeff Hastie. Frankly, with due respect for the current management team, Jeff should be at the helm of this district. He has the skill and the will to be exemplary in this position and he can read a GPS. He can plug in a route from New Rochelle to Suffolk County and help Richard Organisciak on his way.
I have absolutely no difficulty in supporting Bramson, Cox and someday, Hastie, and you should not either. Be well.