RYE BROOK, N.Y. – The three candidates competing for the two open spots on the Blind Book Board of Education discussed issues posed by both members of the public and the Rye, Rye Brook, & Port Chester League of Women Voter's on Tuesday at the league sponsored candidate forum.
Among the issues discussed by incumbent Nancy Barr, Rick Buzin, former school board president and Dan Savitt, vice chairperson of the citizen's financial advisory committee, were the 2 percent property tax levy cap, the adoption of the current 2012-13 budget and the relationship dynamics between the board and the students and superintendent.
In response to a question regarding potential future programming cuts, Savitt said the board has to be mindful of the overall goal.
"Certainly anything we would do would be guided by a vision of maintaining academic excellence," Savitt said. "Look at what we could do and still maintain full program and core curriculum."
Two-time board of education President Rick Buzin said he would target diminishing the district's legal cost.
"One of the big things is the district legal cost that needs to be reined in," Buzin said. "Legal costs have grown by two and a half times over the last three years and that's not money going into programming. That's significant, that's real money."
Current board member Nancy Barr said that introducing new, alternative forms of revenue, which are currently restricted, could help offset the funds lost off the levy.
“School districts are restricted on how they raise money,” Barr said. “We could start earning some money on renting out the auditorium and the gym, perhaps there are revenue raising opportunities.”
In addition to finances, the forum touched on how the board should interact with other members of the school community. In regards to student relations, the panel agreed that listening and learning from students is an important duty of a board member.
“Our students are a great resource,” Buzin said. Their ideas “should be listened to and incorporated into board decisions.”
The panel also touched on the dynamic between the board and the superintendent. Savitt said the balance is important and likened it to a relationship between a corporate board and a CEO. Buzin said that although the superintendent is the educational expert, it is the board who is elected to represent the people. Barr said she agreed with Buzin to an extent but that is not in the best interest of the students for the board to micromanage the superintendent.
Board of education elections will be held on May 15 along with the vote for the 2012-13 budget.