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HomeSchoolsRye Schools Board of EdMeet Valerie Lapham, Board of Education Candidate

Meet Valerie Lapham, Board of Education Candidate

(PHOTO: Valerie Lapham, Rye City School District Board of Education candidate.)
(PHOTO: Valerie Lapham, 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 Valerie Lapham.

Your name: Valerie Lapham

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

Lapham: I believe that education is a right for all people, and ensuring that children in our community are given the best tools available to succeed and become productive members of society is of great importance. As a Board of Education trustee, I would use my varied experience and education to continue to be an effective communicator, advisor and advocate for families in the City of Rye.

Why are you running for school board now?

Lapham: As current Midland PTO co-president, I believe I’ve helped make the organization more inclusive and transparent, and increased communication between families, staff members and the administration. I am pleased with where the PTO stands today and feel this is a logical next step for me.

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

Lapham: Yes

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


  1. The proposed budget maintains the level of excellence in educational programming that Rye citizens have come to expect. And, it increases new programming (the AP Capstone and Intl. Baccalaureate pathways at the high school level) without increasing staffing.
  2. The proposed budget provides vital safety and security updates, including the completion of the Salto lock installation and improving PA systems for more effective emergency management. In my opinion, these updates are necessary to protect our children and staff.
  3. The proposed budget upholds the Rye commitment: it allows for continued investment in critical thinking tools and ongoing support of an equitable and inclusive school district. It also supports data-driven changes to the instructional programs across the district. This enables the district to better meet the needs of each individual student, and provide more supportive and challenging experiences.

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?

Lapham: The POs provide enriching programming beyond the classroom, including assemblies and off-site field trips, school campus beautification, generous classroom/teacher grants, STEAM programs, and social engagement opportunities for students and families. They function solely through the generosity of parent donations and volunteerism. Additionally, the Rye Fund supports all schools within the District with grants for academics, arts and athletics. Because of the tax-cap, which does not allow for logical exemptions like increasing healthcare costs, the supplemental funding and partnership with the PO’s and the RFE is instrumental to the student experience.

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


  1. To be able to adequately meet the increasing mental health needs of our students and provide quality care so students can thrive as they rise through the education system. With data out that confirms younger generations are more anxious and depressed, the need to invest in mental health as a district and at a community level is crucial.
  2. Rye continues to see population growth. With this happening, our schools have great potential to become a more diverse place, and students will benefit from having greater representation. With this requires training, teaching, and open-mindedness. Teaching our children to celebrate differences and embrace individuality are life lessons that should be introduced early and often.
  3. AI: we all recognize that this technology is here to stay and our teachers and administrators must learn to work with it. The district has focused on learning about emerging technology and platforms. However, with technology constantly evolving, it is an area that requires continuous training and understanding, as it will undoubtedly shape our students’ future.

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

Lapham: The BOE takes its fiscal responsibilities seriously and works diligently to create a budget that meets the financial needs of the District in the most appropriate way. It is a process that happens over months and includes public comment. Two areas in particular are significant expenditure categories: staffing and technology. Evaluating and determining the need for full time staff vs consultants, as well as prioritizing candidates who can effectively manage a more comprehensive job description, helps to efficiently manage costs.

What is your favorite book?

Lapham: The Little Prince, by Antoine De Saint Exupery

What are you watching these days?

Lapham: Yankees baseball, The Morning Show, Suits

How many years have you lived in Rye?

Lapham: 10 years

Where do you live in Rye?

Lapham: Fenton Street

Where did you grow up?

Lapham: Southborough, MA – a small suburb of Metrowest, Boston

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

Lapham: Up north, a snow day had to be a major storm! We’d wake up early and watch the local news, looking for our school name to be scrolling at the bottom of the screen. My brother and I would then go sledding down the middle of our street and down the front hill in our yard with neighborhood friends, then we’d have hot chocolate with marshmallows and watch our favorite shows.

Thanks Valerie!


Bio & Quote as provided to the school district:

Valerie Lapham has lived in Rye for 10 years and has two children at Midland School. She is in her second year as Midland’s PTO Co-President and has served as Midland Fair Chair for the past three years. She has also been a class parent at Midland and Christ’s Church Nursery School. As Midland’s Co-President, her goal was to increase communication between families, teachers, and the administration, with hopes of building a stronger sense of community that was inclusive and inviting.

Valerie began her career as an NCIDQ Certified Commercial Interior Designer in Boston. She then shifted gears and became a Registered Nurse at UNC Medical Center, New York Presbyterian Hospital, and a Registered Nurse Manager for two private clinics in Scarsdale and Bedford Hills.

Valerie has a BA in Environmental Studies from the University of Colorado at Boulder, an AA from the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising, and an ABSN from Duke University School of Nursing.

“I would welcome the opportunity to serve the community on the Board of Education. In my time as PTO Co-President at Midland, I have worked to strengthen communication by making sure that the parent community is both informed and well-represented. I look forward to bringing this same focus to the entire school district. My other areas of interest include ensuring the safety and mental well-being of students and teachers, increasing STEM offerings, and continuing the RCSD’s great work in providing well-planned programming and facilities to foster student growth for a diverse population. I look forward to being a part of the meaningful conversations that will directly impact the children and families of Rye.”


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