On Tuesday May 16 at RSS between 7 am and 9 pm Blind Brook residents will hopefully come to the polls and vote for two individuals to fill the soon to be open seats on the Blind Brook school board. The candidates running are Jennifer Schlactus, Steven Kaplan and Jeff Diamond. I have reached out to all three individuals running, with a series of questions aimed at helping you, the reader, get to know them better. First up is Jennifer Schlactus. Over the next two days Steven Kaplan and Jeff Diamond's responses to the same questions will be posted.
HH: Tell us a little bit about you?
JS: Well, I grew up on Long Island, an only child. I went to Half Hollow Hills School District and then graduated with a B.S. in finance from UCONN. I worked for 10 years at Computer Associates. I met Peter in 1994 at the wedding of my camp friend who was marrying his childhood friend. We got married in 1997 and lived in NYC. While living in Manhattan, we became friends with Paul and Debby Rosenberg who later introduced us to Rye Brook. We moved here to BelleFair in April of 2001 when our son Josh was 7 months old. Our daughter, Abby came along in 2002 and today they are both students at Blind Brook High School.
HH: Why are you running for school board?
JS: I have the time and the desire to contribute. People have asked me to run in the past, but Peter tends to work late so evening meetings were a problem. The kids are older now, and my son just got his license, so evening meetings will be easier. I’ve been able to attend all the BOE meetings this year, so I should be fine going forward. In general, I think we can do better for our kids and the school community. The BOE has done a good job managing the money and keeping the taxes down, but that also comes at a cost. Our kids don’t read or write enough. Many parents are using outside tutors to help their kids in classes and for test preparation. We are lacking educational vision and curriculum leadership. Our faculty and administrators, in many cases, are overtaxed and under appreciated. We need to foster an environment where kids love to learn and teachers love to teach. I feel we can do better.
HH: What skills do you think you bring to the board?
JS: Well, I’m pretty organized, good with budgets, spreadsheets and contracts, and pretty focused on pitching in and helping out wherever I can. My public speaking is a bit rusty, but it used to be quite good, and I’m hoping my ability to sometimes add humor to uncomfortable situations will be helpful.
HH: What sets you apart from the other candidates?
JS: I have two kids currently in the high school, a freshman and a junior. I am pretty well informed by the parent community because I have been very present in all three schools since my kids were little. I take an interest in school committees, parent coffees, the community coalition, and I am a regular at PTA meetings. I have been PTA President, Treasurer, Programming Chair, High School Liaison, and Advisor. And for the past year I have attended most of the BOE meetings. If I am elected, I will always be willing to listen to members of the community, and conduct myself with the utmost of integrity. And I promise to always put the needs of our kids first.
HH: What in your past experiences qualifies you?
JS: The nice thing about my job at CA was every few years I was able to reinvent myself into another position. Initially, I spent time in the finance department dealing with sometimes difficult clients and billing issues. Later I went back to school and got a paralegal certification so I could do intellectual property licensing. That led to my becoming a business development manager and later the executive assistant to the CEO. So I’ve certainly read and negotiated my share of contracts. As PTA treasurer, I was responsible for keeping all the financial records, paying vendors and maintaining a monthly budget.
HH: And lastly, can you tell me something most people don't know about you?
JS: I love to be outside. I walk and garden in the warmer months and ski in the winter. And I love listening to piano music.
I hope you will come out to support me on Tuesday May 16th between 7am and 9pm at BMP RSS! Putting Our Kids First!
Tomorrow stay tuned for another candidate's responses.