BEDFORD, N.Y. -- Voters in the Bedford Central School District will decide on a contested school board race when they head to the polls on Tuesday, May 19.
Long-time board President Susan Wollin is not seeking re-election, leaving a vacancy. Vying for Wollin's seat are Brian Sheerin, a Bedford Corners resident, and Justine Marous, a Pound Ridge resident. Sheerin ran for a school board seat last year but lost to Edward Reder.
Board Vice President Eric Karle has also declined to run again. Pound Ridge's Colette Dow, who lost a bid for a seat last year, is running unopposed for Karle's seat. As a result, Dow is poised to become the first Pound Ridge resident on the board since 2013; the lack of one has caused concern from some Pound Ridge residents.
Dow has children at Pound Ridge Elementary School and Fox Lane Middle School; Sheerin has children at Fox Lane Middle School and Fox Lane High School; and Marous has children who attend private school. Dow owns a dance studio in Scotts Corners; Marous has served as an attorney and as a founding board member of a new foundation for the district's schools. Sheerin has a real estate background.
The three recently answered questions at a candidate forum, which was sponsored by a local League of Women Voters chapter and held at Fox Lane Middle School.
They took questions on a range of big and contentious issues, including the dual-language program at Mount Kisco Elementary School, taxation among the district's towns and general discourse.
Sheerin, a former Mount Kisco Elementary parent, expressed concern about the program and the current bilingual curricula, arguing that it doesn't adequately serve people of other backgrounds, such as French-Carribean or Asian, for example. The Mount Kisco program includes a mix of lessons in English and Spanish.
Dow noted that the district's English-learning children need support.
“We have an obligation to educate them, so we should put them – give them enough resources to educate them.”
Marous touched upon the working-class lifestyle of immigrant parents and suggested community forums with translators as a way to reach out.
Candidates were asked about the district's overall rankings. Sheerin, has been critical of current performance.
“Whether we like it or not, home values are closely tied to school rankings,” he said.
Marous suggested reaching out to children and helping them achieve their full potential various areas, including music and arts. Dow said she did not have a particular goal for improving ranking but would like to see improvement.
On public discourse, Marous suggested community forums at each school to provide people a chance to vent. Sheerin, who has been outspoken and critical of the district, reiterated his concern about illegal housing in Mount Kisco and its impact on tax assessment and called for landlords to pay what he called their fair share. Sheerin also spoke with concern about bullying, while Dow hoped that communications would help with public sentiment.
A video of the full forum can be viewed here.
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