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Meet Matt Schibanoff, Board of Education Candidate

(PHOTO: Matt Schibanoff, Rye City School District Board of Education candidate.)
(PHOTO: Matt Schibanoff, Rye City School District Board of Education candidate.)

The Rye City School District Board of Education election race, along with the vote on the $110 million school budget, will be next Tuesday, May 21, 2024. Voting will take place in the Rye Middle School gymnasium between 6:00am – 9:00pm.

The three candidates will be Callie Erickson (incumbent, has served two terms), Valerie Lapham (new), and Matthew Schibanoff (new). Chris Repetto (served 4 terms) is not standing for re-election and Kelsey Johnson is not standing for reelection (served 1 term).

MyRye.com will be running question and answer interviews with each of the three candidates. Although the race in uncontested, we wanted to give our readers an opportunity to hear from each candidate as they will represent three of the elected seven-person Board of Education.

Today we introduce you to Matt Schibanoff.

Your name: Matt Schibanoff

MyRye.com: Why are you running for school board?

Schibanoff: My wife and I are committed to a high-quality public education for our children, and the reputation of the Rye City School District was one of the primary reasons we settled in Rye. When looking at different communities, it’s hard to have the full grasp of a school district until you live in it. Now, with kids in the district, I can see that reputation has been earned by all the teachers, administrators, and parent volunteers. I’m excited by the opportunity to join the team who put in the hard yards day in and day out working towards the best outcomes for all our students.

Why are you running for school board now?

Schibanoff: There’s no time like the present.

Yes or No: Do you plan to support the upcoming school budget vote on Tuesday, May 21st?

Schibanoff: Yes, and I’d encourage everyone in the community to get out and support the budget as well.

What are three or four features of the current budget that make it worthy of voter support?

Schibanoff: As a starting point, it’s important to acknowledge the administration has delivered 9 years in a row of cap compliant budgets. Against the backdrop of inflation rising +18% from 2020 to 2023, the cumulative school budget increase is under 14%. And when you consider where inflation is trending in 2024 vs this year’s budget override, our district will have kept the budget below headline inflation over the period.  That’s no small feat with the quality of education our district is providing. This budget comes with no new staff and continues to tackle the long list of necessary infrastructure maintenance and investments.

Beyond its budget, the Rye City School District sees financial support from the parent organizations (POs) from each of the five schools, as well as the Rye Fund for Education (RFE). Financially, what role do and should each of these entities play in the life of the school district?

Schibanoff: With almost 90% of the budget going to salaries, pensions, and maintaining the current educational standards, it means there is little room in the budget for future investment. Thankfully the community recognized the district’s need to address a long list of critical infrastructure projects with the passage of the bond in 2019. On top of that it is a blessing to have so many wonderful parents and organizations willing to step up, whether it’s the RFE helping fund the engineering and International Baccalaureate programs, the Osborn committee raising funds for a new playground, or team booster associations supporting Rye’s wonderful sports programs. Our school district as a whole is clearly better off thanks to the contributions of all these organizations.

What are the three biggest opportunities/challenges facing the Rye schools over the next 3-5 years?

Schibanoff: The biggest opportunity and challenge is balancing a long term focus for our school system (ensuring we meet the needs of our students not just over the next 3 to 5 years, but over the next 30 to 50), while also being flexible enough to change course when necessary. Living in the start-up world for the last couple of years, the word “pivot” has almost become a cliché, but it means constantly reevaluating the data and being able to adapt in an ever-evolving marketplace. Clearly, a school district with almost 3,000 students cannot operate with the same strategy; however, it is nonetheless still critical to frequently ask the question whether we would make the same investment in a curriculum, project, or technology with the data we have today.

Another opportunity is to continue investing in our teachers. With curriculum enhancements like International Baccalaureate coming, we must ensure our educators are able to fully utilize these resources.

Finally, an ongoing challenge will be continuing with our capital improvements on budget and with transparency for the community. While the bond passed by the community kickstarted the capital improvements, material work remains, and we must be judicious about prioritizing future projects while maintaining a fiscally responsible budget.

What are the three biggest areas for cost containment with the Rye schools over the next 3-5 years?

Schibanoff: The most effective way for our district to contain costs is to continue to ensure we are maximizing every resource. It is a broad statement, but it can take the form of anything from leveraging AI so our teachers can create individualized lesson plans for more students, to tendering for maintenance services from multiple providers rather than having to pay time and a half for the emergency call when something breaks.

While I have not yet had an opportunity to run through the cost analysis, it has been interesting to learn the administration has found ways to save money by insourcing functions like Special Education and Facilities. If the district can offer a higher level of service than an outside provider at a lower cost, then it’s a win-win for the students and the taxpayers.

What is your favorite book?

Schibanoff: It’s hard to narrow it down to a single book, but I’m currently reading The Undoing Project by Michael Lewis. Michael is one of my favorite authors and I find the topic of behavioral economics to be endlessly fascinating.

What are you watching these days?

Schibanoff: We recently powered three seasons of “Slow Horses” on Apple TV, which was highly entertaining. It’s going to be hard waiting another 10 months for season 4.

How many years have you lived in Rye?

Schibanoff: Two years

Where do you live in Rye?

Schibanoff: We live on Intervale near Midland and the Middle/High School.

Where did you grow up?

Schibanoff: San Diego, California

When you were a kid, what was your favorite thing to do on a snow day?

Schibanoff: There were no snow days where I grew up. I don’t think I experienced an actual snowstorm until I was in college in upstate NY, but my favorite thing to do as an adult is to go for a hike with my kids while there is still some fresh powder on the trails.

Thanks Matt!


Bio & Quote as provided to the school district:

Matt Schibanoff has lived in Rye for two years and has children at Midland School. Matt is currently a National Account Manager at Athletic Brewing, the largest Non-Alcoholic Beer brand in the country. Prior to joining Athletic, Matt spent the majority of his career in the financial services industry, most recently Institutional Sales at Jefferies, and was a CFA Charterholder. He has a BA from Colgate University.
“The world class education our students receive in the Rye City School District is one of the primary reasons people choose to live in this wonderful community. The RCSD’s Administration, Teachers, and Board have done an incredible job supporting our children’s growth with transparency and accountability. I believe my background in finance, relationship building, and emerging consumer segments will allow me to bring both critical thinking and creative problem solving to the Board. If elected, I look forward to contributing to the RCSD’s continued success while serving the interests of our students, faculty, and community.”


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