THORNWOOD, N.Y. – Four candidates will vie for three spots on the Mount Pleasant Central School District Board of Education next week. On the ballot, incumbent school board members Theresa Fowler, Vincent D’Ambroso and Jim Grieco will be challenged by Thomas McCabe.
The Daily Mount Pleasant spoke with candidate Vincent D’Ambroso about himself and his plans if he is reelected on May 15.
Can you tell us about yourself?
- Resident of Thornwood for 20 years
- Married to wife Marie for 34 years
- Two children, Steven and Stacy, are both graduates of the Mount Pleasant Central School District
- Currently employed as a business development officer for the Hudson Valley Federal Credit Union
- Previously chief financial officer and vice president of operations for the Putnam Federal Credit Union before the company merged in 2010 with the Hudson Valley branch
- Member of the Mount Pleasant Central School District Board of Education since July 2009
- Current school district audit committee chairperson since July 2009
- Current legislative advocacy committee chairperson for school district since July 2009
What other organizations are you involved with?
- Member of resource development committee for the United Way of Westchester and Putnam
- Treasurer and member of the business resource committee for Greater Mahopac/Carmel Chamber of Commerce
- Treasurer for Putnam County Chamber of Commerce
- Member of the resource development committee and event committee for Putnam United Way
- Member of the legislation action committee and Lower Hudson Education Coalition for Westchester Putnam School Board Association
- Chairperson of the Putnam County Not-for-Profit Council
- Chairperson of the American Heart Association Walk Campaign in Putnam County
- Chairperson of the Treasury Committee for Cornell Cooperation Extension for Putnam County
- Putnam County Independent Business Alliance
- Mid-Hudson Regional Economic Development Council
What do you think is your biggest accomplishment while serving on the board?
VD: In these trying times, it was an accomplishment to work within the allowable tax levy and be able to maintain all of our academic programs as well as the extracurricular such as athletics and the arts. Furthermore, we were able to add a Life Skills program in the high school – a program that will support our Special Education students ensuring them support within the district. While other districts have struggled to maintain programs and class size, we have been able to maintain both. Our goal is to continue to grow as a district and continue to serve the community in a positive way.
In the scenario where reductions must be made in the future in order to stay under the 2 percent tax cap, what areas would you look at if you are reelected?
VD: This is a most difficult question to answer. What will next year bring? What will the economic climate be? How will another year of working within the tax cap affect the district? Will there be any movement on Mandate relief? I cannot answer that question with any certainty today. What I can say is that we as a board address district needs each year. Obviously, the focus of the board is education excellence. We want to provide an environment that is academically strong that challenges each individual student. Our goal is to maintain programs and services – with our eyes constantly on the needs of the district. We are a positive board and do plan for improvement – while being mindful of the community and staff when possible changes in programs and services are considered.
What do you think are the three biggest issues currently in the district and if you are reelected to the board how do you plan to resolve them?
VD: Today, the major challenges include the tax cap, unfunded and underfunded mandates and contract negotiations. Mandates are written with good intentions. However, funding for mandates was less challenging during better economic times. Without mandate relief, school districts and the tax cap are on a collision course and the continued alignment of educational goals to our strategic plan will be challenged. Our school district must continue to follow our strategic plan’s focus for next year and subsequent years. Educational excellence is the focus of the Mount Pleasant Central School District. Furthermore, future contracts need to be fair and equitable for all parties, which include not only the employees and the district, but the Mount Pleasant community as well, including our seniors. Effective communication and an understanding of issues are essential. The students must also be considered during any negotiation as decisions made will influence the quality of education provided in the future.