Letters: Haldane Endorsements

I had the honor of serving on the Haldane Board of Education for seven years, so this time of year still brings out the “concerned citizen” in me. School board elections, budget votes and capital bonds are important and I feel it’s my civic duty to be informed, share insights from past experiences and offer support when I can.

Candidates Jen Daly and Laura O’Connell are excellent choices for the two open positions on the board. I met Jen when I was completing my final stint as president and she was elected to the board. She jumped right in and served as vice president. Jen is smart, asks well-researched questions and understands why checks and balances matter in the relationship between board and administration. Her experience can aid the board as a whole throughout another term.

I met Laura last year when she ran for the first time and then a few weeks ago spent several hours with her on the capital bond tour offered by the district. Laura’s background in large-scale facilities-planning and oversight can be a major asset and in that brief walk-through her comments and observations were spot-on. There has always been at least one board member who likes to get their hands dirty on these issues and Laura is that person. She’s a perfect addition, and the timing is right.

The $2.3 million proposed capital bond on the ballot is projected to be tax neutral. Frankly, it’s also unexciting. I rejoined the Building and Grounds Committee this past fall. In those meetings, it was clear the scope of work was going to be disciplined and focused on needs versus wants. There’s very little on the list of projects that is going to get anyone excited but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Former Superintendent Mark Villanti excelled at reminding the community of why these uneventful but necessary bonds are critical to rebuild campus infrastructure. The new superintendent, Philip Benante, is taking the same approach.

I encourage you to support the bond and these very qualified candidates on Tuesday, May 21.

Joe Curto, Cold Spring

Having served for three-and-a-half years on the Haldane board, including two years as president, I have a good understanding of what it takes to be a good board member. This year the community is lucky to have three strong candidates. I am writing to explain why I will be supporting incumbent Jen Daly and Laura O’Connell.

Daly has been a member of the Haldane community for seven years and has demonstrated her commitment to the district by serving on the board for the past five years. Jen has a deep understanding of how a board should function and has demonstrated her commitment by previously serving as president for two years and more recently helping to spearhead the effort to audit the district’s policy manual. She has a deep understanding of the budget development process. In addition, she brings expertise as a certified dance educator and small-business owner, and someone whose professional career is devoted to helping others live healthy and well-balanced lives. In recent years, Jen has continually championed the district’s efforts to improve its ability to support social emotional needs of all students.

Laura has been a member of the community for more than 10 years and has played an integral part on the district’s Building and Grounds Committee. As director of capital projects for The Public Theater in New York City, Laura has extensive expertise in helping an organization assess its long-term needs related to capital improvements while also considering the inherent financial implications. Laura also has strong communication, organizational and problem-solving skills; experience developing and overseeing large budgets; and the willingness to make Haldane the best that it can be for all students.

Laura Hammond, Cold Spring

I have known Laura O’Connell for many years and worked with her when she was employed at Columbia University and Sarah Lawrence College. During all of this time I found her to be both intelligent and incisive. She has always been able to get to the essence of an issue and has the tenacity to follow up on things to their conclusion. She would be an excellent member of the board and help it develop reasonable and innovative solutions to the problems facing the district.

Al Zgolinski, Cold Spring

Jen Daly has been an advocate for the Haldane community since the first day she moved to Cold Spring. She has tirelessly involved herself in so many issues impacting our students and families. Especially close to my heart are the efforts she has put in over the years to grow the social and emotional supports our students have at Haldane.

Jen is someone who listens to the concerns of parents yet has a true grasp on the tough choices that the Haldane administration must sometimes make. In her inquisitive yet no-nonsense way Jen has led the school board through a number of difficult decisions and, in my opinion, has been on the right side of each choice. Jen is a real asset to our community and especially to the Haldane district. Please join me in voting for Jen Daly again in the upcoming election.

Danielle Pack McCarthy, Nelsonville

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