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Meet the Candidate: Nadile for Board of Ed

With all due respect to the one incumbent, Patch presents the first Board of Education candidate in our ongoing Q&A series leading up to May elections.

If you haven't already, here's your chance to meet Vincent Nadile, sitting member of the Board of Education who has filed to run for another three-year term.  Patch questions follow, including one from a hot topic Patch readers are talking about. Have a question you'd like to ask one or all of the candidates? Share it in the comments below.

Patch: Refresh people with your history please.

VN:
I have had the privilege of serving on the Tarrytowns Board of Education for eight years, and I had the added privilege of being its vice president last year.  For 25 years, I have been a practicing attorney, with just over half that time as an in-house counsel to major insurance related organizations.  That is my current position at a large reinsurance company, where I specialize in contract law.  My wife and I have three children: two daughters who graduated from the district, one in 2009 and another in 2011, both of whom are in college (USC film school and Cornell University, respectively), and a son in the fourth grade at Washington Irving.   

Patch: What are the issues you'd place as highest priorities in your tenure? 

VN:
I see two pressing issues for whoever is on this board next year: One is determining how best to structure academic programs for students across the various spectrums of ability.  With respect to our students who have special needs or are struggling English language learners, I believe this district does an exceptional job with instruction and support, nonpareil with any other Westchester school system.  But it does not, in my opinion, do justice to high achieving students at the elementary levels or in our middle school, and the students in the middle similarly suffer.  To my mind, this augurs for a serious reconsideration of "tracking" in the elementary schools as well as establishing across-the-board honors programs in the middle school.  The other is how to continue to afford the full range of academic, athletic, and extracurricular offerings we currently have in the new reality of a 2 percent tax levy limit.  As I have stated before publicly, no more sacred cows are left.  We thus need to focus on two objectives here.  One is working more efficiently to meet students' needs at their different levels of ability, which again to my mind suggests the exploration of "tracking" that starts in the younger grades.  The other is doing a much better job at ensuring that all students who are enrolled here do indeed legally reside here, in compliance with New York State Education Law Section 3202(1).  This means stepping up  --  and away  --  from our current "one-time" proof of residency process that ends with entrance into our kindergarten program.  With an average yearly cost of $23,000 a student and an ever growing enrollment, I have concluded that our current registration process is not only economically untenable, it is also economically indefensible.       

Patch: What made you decide to run for another term?


VN:
Simply put, I have genuine concerns about the future of this district to retain good students.  I, along with my wife, have a perspective on this school system that I dare say no other persons can claim at present.  Namely, we have "book-end" children: two daughters who are relatively recent graduates of Sleepy Hollow High School and a son who is half-way through the elementary grades.  This means I have thus far experienced almost two decades of having primary and secondary school-aged children in Tarrytown.  I have been witnessing a disturbing trend regarding our district's ability to retain those students who are solid, if not exceptional, performers as well as those who are academically talented.  We are losing these kids.  And we have been losing them in exponential numbers for some time.  I have lived here since 1990.  I know of what I speak.  I want to get the families of such kids to buy back into our system.  With the support of a new superintendent coming on board who has faced such challenges, and a new assistant superintendent to follow shortly, I believe I can contribute meaningfully to efforts to make our district a first choice for many more families who have the means to put their sons and daughters elsewhere.           

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


VN:
I am the board's only practicing attorney, and I served for several years as a board member of an insurance company where I was responsible for ensuring adherence to rules of procedure and overall governance.  I am also one of only two board members who currently have an elementary school-age child in our school system along with a spouse who has a full-time career outside the home.  So, I am keenly aware of many challenges faced by those students and parents.     

Patch: How will you (continue to) face the growing 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...


VN:
You said it well.  Under the current rubrics  --  such as our (i) current funding obligations for pensions and  health insurance, (ii)  default to heterogeneous groupings wherever possible in the lower grades, (iii) maintaining multiple buildings for elementary grades  --  it will be extremely difficult (if not impossible) for future boards to provide the same educational offerings in view of the 2 percent tax levy cap and an ever-increasing student population.  We got lucky this year.  The proposed 1.73 percent tax levy increase was principally due to one-time savings, such as those from our special education program, early retirement incentives, and outsourcing of our pre-K program.  By their very nature, these sources cannot be expected to provide repeat performances so as to bring us under the tax levy limit in all the years ahead.    Thus, whoever sits on this board in the future had better be prepared to address some issues that are not only tough but, quite frankly, have been viewed to date by many as politically "undiscussable."  Here, I am talking about such immediate matters as an honest re-examination of the true costs of differentiated instruction for all elementary grades as well as taking up re-registration initiatives with the in-coming superintendent and his assistant.  I am also talking about longer range goals such as getting us down to three campuses, instead of the four we are currently maintaining.  This could be done through largely resurrecting the original plans to expand WI (but for our early elementary grades) as well as keeping the now upgraded Morse school.   


Patch: Achievements on the Board you're proudest of, and things perhaps you'd like to do differently or do more or less of this time around...


VN:
I am proud to have been a principal voice for the establishment in our middle school of an honors based English Language Arts program, called SpringBoard, which was just implemented last year.  I am also proud of my advocacy for and my service on our high school's Discipline Committee, which identified and addressed the discrete offenses committed by certain students.  And I am particularly grateful for the opportunity to have worked closely on projects with two fellow board members.  One is the crafting of over half a dozen board policies and regulations, which were accomplished with the much appreciated input from Ms. Godwin.  These have ranged from procedures on the appropriate renting and use of all of our school properties, to safety and student health initiatives, to the protocols for the naming of our school facilities in a way that ensures community involvement.  Another is a $1.2 million innovative energy service contract, on which I worked closely with Mr. Rode, to refit our buildings with cost efficient systems.  This was paid for entirely out of savings derived from the project, and the work accomplished will continue to save the district thousands of dollars in utility bills.  What I am not proud of is the turnover of principals and assistant principals at certain schools.  Overall, we have not done an admirable job of aligning the right people with the right places in our system.  This makes for a serious deficit in long-term and consistent stewardship in our schools.  We need to do a better job here.       

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? How would you enforce such a thing? 


VN:
As I acknowledge above, this is indeed a serious problem.  It has, unfortunately, chiefly remained one of those politically "undiscussable" items for I think rather obvious reasons, which I am not afraid to set forth.  Look, we stand now as a largely minority district; minorities in fact comprise over 70 percent of our students, and many in that group are Hispanics from under-resourced backgrounds.  And that, I believe, makes this conversation unpleasant for a lot of people, because they do not like being considered "racist." But to let the conversation end there is, in my opinion, misguided as well as unfair to everyone in this district.  A public education is not a "free" education.  It is made possible largely by property taxpayers who live in the district and support it.  So to do nothing about this issue is unfair to those who are paying the rather oppressive taxes to support our education system.  It is also unfair to our teachers to whom we are consistently asking to do more with less.   And last but in no way least, it is unfair to all students who legitimately reside here and attend our schools. We need to have this conversation, and it should start with our new superintendent, Dr. Chris Clouet, who in fact served on the White Plains Board of Education when it undertook a significant re-registration initiative in 2010.  In fact, I know that year the board in White Plains engaged a firm called MBF Investigative Services for all aspects of residency investigations.  The point is, simply, this process can  --  and needs to be  -- done.  We owe it to our district taxpayers, our teachers, and all our students who legally reside here.

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Ed April 30, 2013 at 01:37 PM
Re-registration is paramount - upon completion taxpayers/teachers/students should experience relief - this is a very hot topic that all should follow - re-registration seems timely as we exit a school year and enter another - all of us should demand to be continually informed of the progress for it not to fall to the wayside as in the past
Ed April 30, 2013 at 01:42 PM
Need to add that Mr. Nadile and those that support him should be admired for saying what needs to be said. I, frankly, am sick and tired of similar topics be turned into a race issue
George W. Angevine April 30, 2013 at 03:20 PM
Vince has done a fine job on the Board and has always spoken his mind in a non-confrontational manner. We are very fortunate to have his legal expertise and his dedication within this body, I couldn't agree more on his priorities for a new term: a robust proof of residency which was not seriously considered under Howard; realignment of school campuses; educational cost reassessment, etc. However I would respectfully submit that the school Board needs to insert itself more visibly and vocally in the GM property development negotiations as every day that goes by, we are losing out on the $1-2 million we used to get in school tax revenue from that site. In addition, as I have repeatedly suggested to Howard and the Board, that the sacred cow of pension and employee benefits need to be challenged rather than just sit back and say that is the way it has to be. As I have suggested, the Superintendent and the BOE need to spearhead a consortium of school districts to challenge the unions and Albany on these mandated costs...as Vince mentions, these costs are unsustainable if we are to keep within the 2% cap.Best of luck Vince in the upcoming election, and am glad to see that we will also have some new choices to fill seats on the Board with some new blood. Hopefully we will get an infusion of new ideas by the new Board members, new Superintendent and new Assistant Superintendent.
Joan Buckley April 30, 2013 at 04:09 PM
Could you give us a ballpark figure on how many nonresident children we're talking about?
Abraham May 01, 2013 at 01:31 PM
I am greatfull that someone has the courage to at least bring re-registration to the discussion and frame it in way that shows how unfair it is for the people that live and work in the district. You have my vote
Abraham May 01, 2013 at 02:50 PM
the article states that 70% of the school is minority but we are a 50/50 district, so I would imagine 20 % of the children are from another district ?
Anne D'Alessandro May 01, 2013 at 03:47 PM
Mine too..

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