Meet the Candidate: Banino for Board of Ed

Carol Banino of Sleepy Hollow is the final School Board candidate in our Q&A line up. Do you have further questions for one or all of the candidates? Weigh in below.

Last but not least, Carol Banino.

Despite being on vacation now she was gracious enough to send a last minute photo of herself that didn’t have her face “smooshed against a child’s” – a condition which does seem typical of most moms. Banino is a stay-at-home mother of two girls: one fifth grader and one third grader. And like Jennifer Green, she too is a former lawyer. Like all the other candidates, Banino has nothing but praise for the group. “We’re all really interested in making school better,” she said. “Everyone’s useful.” Not a “campaigner,” she describes herself intead as someone used to speaking their mind at Washington Irving, always running book clubs, always a “class mom."

Here’s Banino on the same questions the others got:

Patch: What's your background?

CB: I grew up in Massachusetts (a town called Fitchburg). I came to NY to attend Fordham Law School. I worked as a corporate attorney at a law firm in Manhattan until my first child was born. We moved to Sleepy Hollow three years later. My children attended Torbank Nursery School in Ossining where I co-chaired the Fundraising Committee and later became Board President. I continued my volunteer efforts in Tarrytown by signing up each year as a class parent, volunteering in the classroom, facilitating lunch time book clubs and leading two Girl Scout Troops (one for each child). It's funny...I was inspired by my high school political science teacher to go into law. He made me want to change the world. Fix everything that was wrong.  I figured I needed to be a politician to do that. I asked him once why he hadn't gone into government - why he wasn't a Senator. He could have done so much! He smiled at me and said he thought the job he was doing was more important. It wasn't until I had kids of my own that I really understood what he meant. And it's just now that I'm realizing why I didn't go into politics! 

Patch: What made you decide to run?

It was just [two weeks before the filing deadline] that I was asked to consider running for an open Board seat. It seemed like a great opportunity because I am so interested in education and improving the experience for all of our children. Banino told me in a phone interview that while she had been among the “complainers for a while” about what’s wrong with the system, her motivation now would be “openness” and a feeling that “maybe we should get a little more active about it.”

Patch: What do you bring to the table personally that would help complement the existing members?

CB: I pride myself on being relatively level headed and anxious to understand all sides of an issue/argument before casting judgment. As such, I believed I would be an asset to the Board. Of course, I also fully appreciate that I have a lot to learn!   Patch: What are the issues most important to you you'd place as high priorities in your tenure? One her top priorities are curriculum issues. “I hear a lot of people trying to find ways to make the schools more challenging.” Patch: How would you face the challenges of all the unfunded mandates vs. all the many ways we of course don't want to cut education for our kids - it seems the budget is necessarily ugly business these days and everyone, even a Superintendent, just sounds powerless in the face of it which can be very discouraging... Banino said the Board is more than a budget. Though she’s admittedly "not really a math person," she is interested in learning as much as she can about the process and “disseminating the information.” So much of the board’s actions seem somewhat cryptic from a distance, she said, and she looks forward to learning more, as she has been, about “things that seem to make no sense.” Such as: particularities of grant money. She has learned how money often goes to one specific, and perhaps less than crucial, thing, but that’s the stipulation of getting the grant. “Maybe there’s a bigger problem overall to address,” she said.

Patch: Finally, a hot topic that’s come up lately on Patch – in light of a parent who addressed the Board with her concern of many nonresident kids getting away with attending our schools, do you see this as a problem that we might better address? If so, how would you enforce such a thing? 

CB: I agree that nonresident children attending our schools is a problem. More importantly, our community believes it to be a problem, which means it needs to be better addressed. It is a burden we as taxpayers should not have to bear. We have been told by the administration that the paperwork and investigation involved in any attempt to remedy the situation would not be worth the cost. It is difficult to evaluate that position without more information on the actual cost of requiring annual or biennial proof of residency or without more information on the breadth of the problem and the practicality of proving false residency. I think it would be helpful to have a system in place through which abuses can be reported to the administration and investigated (within legal guidelines). At the moment, there seems to be a lack of confidence that any such reports would be followed up on. We should also confer with other districts to learn how they tackle this problem.   Moreover, we should remember that this is not solely a cost issue, but a quality of education issue. If removing out of district kids decreases class sizes, then all of our children receive the benefit of additional individual teacher attention. That is certainly worth something in and of itself. 

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