VALHALLA, N.Y. – There will be one contested election this year for a seat on the Valhalla Union Free School District Board of Education.
Challenger James Adams will go against William Rosenberg to fill the seat vacated by Brian Macken. Robert Ierace will run uncontested to fill the vacancy on the board left by William McGuinn. Ronald Cavallo will run unopposed to fill the vacant seat left by William Rosenberg. Each candidate will be elected to a three year term.
The Daily Mount Pleasant recently spoke with James Adams to talk about himself and his plans if he is elected to the board on May 15. Adams has been a resident of Valhalla since 1996. His daughter, 20, graduated from the Valhalla Union Free School District and his son is currently an eighth grade student in Valhalla Middle School.
Adams is currently employed as an IT Manager at Celtic Building Supplies in Yonkers. It is his first time running for the board of education. He is a former board member for the Valhalla Jr. Vikings and is a coach for the Kensico Little League, the Holy Name of Jesus Basketball League and a member of the Mount Pleasant Sportsman Club.
What inspired you to run for the Board of Education?
JA: It seems like over the past couple of years the board has lost sight. They’re supposed to be the board members of the school district, and it’s not all about them. There’s 1,600 kids in this district. I’m involved in a lot of things, I show up at a lot of events. I’m always there. And people were saying to me, ‘you should run.’
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 elected?
JA: A lot of the areas, you’re tied in to by contracts. And the way things have gone for the last several years, things have been really good so the district has given away more than I think they should have. I don’t think anyone should have a guaranteed job. Teachers work very hard, but I think it should be further along. What’s the incentive to work hard if you have tenure and you’re making $100,000 a year? I think they’re worth it but there should be more checks and balances. I come from a business environment where there’s always a next goal. It seems like a lot of this testing and evaluation has come as a surprise. The thing is, our education has been dropping for the past 20 years against other countries. Someone should have known this was coming.
What do you think are the three biggest issues in the district right now, and if you are elected to the board how do you plan to resolve them?
JA: The biggest issues that I see are taxes, teachers' evaluations and parental involvement. I give back and there are a lot of people that do as well, but there aren’t nearly as many that do. We need to get more people involved. You can see it at events like a baseball game. There’s 12 kids on each side, and there’s a handful of parents there. You can’t take a few hours to go to your son’s baseball game? It’s not babysitting, it’s developing your child. Teacher evaluations, it is what it is. They’re afraid they’re going to be evaluated and people are going to see the chinks in their armor. But evaluations are not always a bad thing. Sometimes you recognize something that you weren’t aware of. Perception is an important part of it, and if somebody outside or inside sees a problem you need to set a bench mark and you have to see where we are now to gauge where we are going forward. How it came about wasn’t great but that’s how things are mandated, you have no choice. So let’s just work with it. With taxes, every year we need to keep it as tight as we can. Some of the things that are already contracted there’s no way of getting around it, but some things unfortunately need to be cut. At some point it needs to be realized that people are paying for all of this.