Letter to the Editor: New Rochelle Schools Deserve to Be Supported

A Patch reader voices an opinion on Tuesday's school and library budget votes.

To the Editor:

New Rochelle’s outstanding public schools and libraries deserve our support, and they also deserve school board members and library trustees who will work for the best interests of the city and its residents.

There is no doubt about the quality of our schools: They provide our students with the tools to succeed. Ninety-five percent of last year’s graduates went on to postsecondary education, and this cohort included 120 Advanced Placement Scholars, seven National Merit Semifinalists and 12 Commended students. This year, 27 members of the senior class were accepted into Ivy League schools, including five to Harvard and two to Yale, with others heading to Duke, Cooper Union, MIT, Johns Hopkins, Brown and Georgetown. In addition to excellent academic teams, like the Science Olympiad team that went on to the state finals and the Academic Quiz team, New Rochelle High School also fields legendary sports teams and offers an amazing arts program. Also of note, New Rochelle’s drop out rate for this class is 3.3 percent, versus 4 percent statewide and 7.5 percent in urban areas. Indeed, of the 52 small cities in New York State, New Rochelle’s drop-out rate is one of the lowest.

And yet New Rochelle accomplishes all this with less: New Rochelle consistently ranks among the most cost-efficient districts, ranking 41 out of 43 Westchester districts reporting per pupil and central administration expenditures. 

Likewise, the New Rochelle Public Library provides this city with outstanding services: In 2009 the library was ranked second in Westchester County in  the total number of children’s books circulated and second in library-sponsored programs offered, yet the local public support per capita it receives is the sixth lowest in the county.

Our city’s excellent public schools and public libraries deserve excellent leadership, and that’s why I support Naomi Brickel and Rachel Relkin for school board (I also support Greg Varian and Bo Kemp for re-election as library trustees, but they are running unopposed.) Both Naomi and Rachel are parents with children in the New Rochelle public schools who have demonstrated a commitment to public education as well as a willingness to roll up their sleeves and pitch in as volunteers.

The mother of six children, Naomi Brickel has been a driving force behind SEPTA, the Special Education PTA, and she serves as chairperson of the Special Ed committee of the Westchester Putnam region of the New York State PTA. In her capacity as the Director of the Hudson Valley Special Education Parent Education Center, Naomi co-authored New York State’s training curriculum for parents involved in the CSE process, and she regularly gives workshops on effective collaboration between parents and schools. Naomi was appointed by the New York State Education Commissioner to his Advisory Panel on Special Education. In short, she knows education issues inside out.

Rachel Relkin is an attorney with nine years of experience as a litigator for the City of New York, where she represented agencies that included the Department of Education. (She also spent two years as clerk for a U.S. Senior District Court judge.) An active PTA mom with two young children at Barnard and Davis (she and her husband redesigned the Web sites for both schools), she has valuable experience as a mediator and believes in working together collaboratively to solve problems.        

Please remember to vote YES for our schools and libraries on May 17 and to elect Naomi Brickel and Rachel Relkin to School Board.

Theresa Kump Leghorn
New Rochelle

EDITOR'S NOTE: Do you have an opinion you want to express about any subject ? Send your Letter to the Editor to Michael.Woyton@Patch.com. Please include your name, address and daytime and evening phone numbers. Letters may be edited for style.

Letters regarding the school board and budget election had to be received by Sunday, May 15, to be considered for publication. 

There are six candidates running for two five-year terms on the school board. The  candidates are Rachel Relkin, Naomi Brickel, Robert Cox, Peter O'Keeffe, and Dr. Salvador A. Fernandez.

Theresa Kump Leghorn May 17, 2011 at 11:16 AM
Wow, more angry comments from people hiding behind phony screen names so they don't have to take responsibility -- or be accountable -- for anything they say. I hope people reading these comments notice who is willing to sign their real names and who hides their identities, and then think about what that means. Those hiding their true identities rely on personal attacks and overheated rhetoric when anyone disagrees with them. If you have something to say, own it and sign your real name.
MollyK May 17, 2011 at 12:23 PM
I’m thinking that “Fuzzy” is this persons’ real name and it’s entirely apropos. Fuzzy, Dizzy, Dopey, Angry, pick one, any one and it will be entirely descriptive. “The taxpayers of New Rochelle are supporting the children’s library on North Avenue described as a “north end service”? This is entirely a “Fuzzy” thought. Where are you getting this stuff from? Oh yes, I forgot, you support Cox. Listen Dingy, I mean Fuzzy; last I heard one did not need a north end address to use this facility. Is there a “North End Library Card” my kid needs to use this library? I don’t think so. Do your research—maybe even at the library—and get your facts clear. You shouldn’t be so angry I heard it can lead to health issues.
Josh Semendoff May 17, 2011 at 12:48 PM
Just in case anyone has any doubt about how much work the New Rochelle Fund for Educational Excellence actually does, read my latest article about them: http://newrochelle.patch.com/articles/spotlight-on-volunteers-meri-hilton-susan-weisman Being a teacher myself, I do believe that difficult cuts still need to be made either through personnel, resources, etc...BUT...I also believe that the people who really care about education are doing the best they can at this point with what is in place, from the superintendent who I have had many candid conversations with down to the teachers and support staff of the district.
Fiorella Massa-Corso May 17, 2011 at 01:41 PM
It's amazing and horrifying to me that the people who actually roll up their sleeves and DO something for ALL of us and the children of our City, are under (unfounded) personal attack here while the others only complain and spew vitriol...We need people to solve problems and bring constructive ideas to the table. There is no reason there can't be a debate without all of this mud-slinging. If you are in the right and your facts sustain your point then there is no reason to resort to this sort of behavior. The Museum is a jewel in NR and we are lucky to have it and for it to be located in the HS where it is accessible to everyone and first and foremost, to all our kids. The Libraries in NR are open to everyone and offer so many support services to every citizen. These ARE RESOURCES that should not be politicized and used to punish the constituents who most benefit from them. People, get your facts stop being so toxic and vote what you want but think long and hard about taking away education and enrichment programs because those are what allow our kids to dream, hope, grow and become the future of our City and our Country.
MollyK May 17, 2011 at 01:43 PM
Mr. L, is that what you do to people when you know their real identity - use it in some way to get back at them? I doubt that is what this woman has in mind. It speaks volumes about who you REALLY are if that is what you think people do with information.


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