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School Board Candidates Cite Financial Experience

BRONXVILLE, N.Y. – The four candidates vying for two spots on the Bronxville School Board of Trustees all highlighted their background in finance at a PTA-sponsored debate Sunday while agreeing budget limitations will dictate the future course of Bronxville schools.

Only four of the approximately 25 attendees posed questions to the candidates at the forum at the Bronxville Public Library.

Incumbent Chris Atayan is unopposed in his bid for a second term on the board, while Jeffrey Rohr, William Rizzo and Kurt Fuchs are competing for the seat being vacated by Trustee Richard Rugani. The Committee for the Non-Partisan Nomination and Election of School Trustees has endorsed the candidacies of Atayan and Rohr, while Fuchs and Rizzo are running as Independents.

While referring to his efforts to date on the school board, Atayan promised to be available “24/7, 365 days” to all residents. Rizzo emphasized his local roots, having grown up in Bronxville, and his background in municipal finance. Fuchs underscored his experience in corporate governance. Rohr accentuated his role as a chief financial officer of leading accounting firm Deloitte LLP while adding that with his June retirement from the firm he would “have plenty of time to devote to this job.”

Residents will have the opportunity May 15 to vote for their selection to the school board and approve the school budget. Polls will remain open between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m. in the school’s multi-purpose room.

“It was a great opportunity for the public to hear from the candidates and I hope people will show up to vote,” said school PTA President Nina Evison.

The candidates responded as follows to some of the issues raised:

- Maintaining class sizes: Fuchs said limiting class size would be second to flooding remediation. Rohr said class sizes in the future would be controlled by budget constraints, noting “it ultimately boils down to higher taxes or higher class sizes” if teacher cuts are necessary. Rizzo said he favors maintaining current class sizes, while Atayan said he supports moving resources to academic programs from non-academic functions.

- Funding repairs to auditorium, science room and other infrastructure: Atayan said proposed plans need further study but the primary financial priority should be obtaining flood insurance for the school. Fuchs reiterated remediating flooding issues would be his priority. Rizzo said residents should be given an opportunity to consider a bond issuance as given current market conditions, “We have a unique opportunity right now to borrow money at a better rate over long term than the rate of inflation.” Rohr said that to ensure the schools are still there 30 or 100 years from now, “…it doesn't pay to wait.”

- Role of the school in promoting a healthy, safe and ethical behavior outside school: All candidates favored the schools doing more to encourage moral and ethical behavior outside school, with Rizzo commending the school’s recent forum on teen alcohol and drug use prevention. Atayan said the school board is “cohesively pushing” for the school to play an active role in a student’s behavior outside school. Fuchs said the school should partner with parents on student behavior, while Rohr said the school should take more responsibility for off-campus behavior.

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