Updated: Apr 21, 2021
Letter to Petition Signers:
Thank you for signing my petition! Your signature helped secure my spot on the ballot for the 2021 Board of Education election to be held on Tuesday, May 18th. Getting on the ballot is already a win. Through petitioning I’ve gotten the chance to speak with over a hundred of our neighbors about their ideas for the Katonah-Lewisboro School District. It has only fortified my resolve to run for the Board. I truly believe now is a unique opportunity to make positive change for the district. I hope you agree and will help me get elected by voting on May 18th.
I wanted to share a little more about my vision for the school district and also share a bit of my background with you.
Katonah-Lewisboro is a wonderful school district with a strong Administration and Board of Education. It is well resourced, and will get nearly a million extra dollars due to Federal and State relief this year. These are excellent conditions to think about how to grow what’s working well and address what is not. I am excited to think creatively about how to address what our students, parents, teachers and administrators need. I want to explore how we can build back school even better than it was.
As a parent of 3 young children, the past year has been tough. The switch to remote schooling was destabilizing. It demonstrated to me the critical role that school plays, not just as a place of learning, but also as a vital civic institution. Now that we’ve figured out how to open schools safely, it's time to discuss what worked over the past year and what didn’t. There are some aspects of remote schooling that we may want to continue, and some we’ll want to say good riddance to forever. There is much about the in-person classroom experience that I’m so grateful to have back and there may be opportunities to enhance that experience even further. Now is a unique opportunity to engage our community in discussions about what we want our schools to look like as we build back better. However, I have yet to see a forum for this discussion. And unfortunately, I think this follows a pattern in the district of not engaging the community in discussions around curriculum, major policy decisions and other matters. I think this is a lost opportunity, because there is so much expertise, passion and important perspectives to be added to the conversation. I firmly believe that more voices leads to better public policy. I would like to think creatively on the Board about how we better engage the community.
I am passionate about helping the district to become more transparent. For the past year school board meetings, like everything else, have been conducted remotely as webinars. As a two-parent working household, attending school board meetings in person requires a fair amount of coordination. This year it has been a lot easier to participate. In an effort to move towards greater transparency, the Board could increase participation even more by continuing to livestream meetings and add an interactive element, like through zoom with appropriate controls, rather than simply offering the meeting as a webinar, to enable parent and community voices to be heard more directly.
Finally, I know we can do an even better job of being a welcoming community. I felt very welcomed after we first moved here when there was a special town gathering help at Fox Valley Park. I felt similarly welcomed when several parents from the IMES PTO reached out to me to welcome me to the school and the parent community. Inclusion builds upon these types of welcoming acts and takes it a step further by inviting people in even more. Examples of this include making the school board meetings more accessible by sending the invitation around in multiple languages and ensuring language interpretation is available at school board and PTO meetings so that all parents can participate.
Civic engagement is the very basis of democracy. Isn’t the promotion of a healthy democracy one of the tenets of our public education system? We should seek to emulate the ideal of a vibrant and engaged public through our school district. My vision is that a practice of creatively addressing the needs of multiple stakeholders in our schools, increasing transparency in school communications and expanding inclusivity will result in increased community participation, new ideas and better outcomes for our school district.
My career has spanned the public, private and nonprofit sector. I currently consult for non- profit organizations, businesses and local government to make them more effective and responsive to their constituencies. I have always been passionate about public service. I loved working as a Chief of Staff to a NYS Assembly Member. My favorite consulting gigs are when I get to teach people about the importance of local government. My favorite project was with the NYC Department of Education’s Computer Science for All Initiative redesigning their Hack League to teach computational thinking through civics. The opportunity to serve on the KLSD Board of Education builds on my intention to serve the district, while utilizing my skills and talents as a consultant. I want to help move our school district forward by increasing quality, transparency and inclusion to result in better ideas and better outcomes for our school district.
I hope you will consider voting for me in the May 18th, 2021 school board elections. I would love to hear your ideas and thoughts. Please feel free to call me 914.401.4218 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or comment on my campaign facebook page @ShneyerForSchoolBoard. I look forward to connecting again soon.