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