On Tuesday, May 18th, the community will vote on the Rye City school district’s annual budget for the 2021-22 school year and will vote to elect three Board of Education members. The vote is in the RMS Gym; polling hours are 6:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. (used to be 7:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m.). The District is not mailing out ballots as it did last year during COVID. Voters can still request an absentee ballot.
There will be a candidates forum moderated by the League of Women Voters on Thursday, May 6, at 7:00 p.m. (zoom link).
Current Board members Callie Erickson and Chris Repetto have announced they will seek reelection; Kelly Smith-Powers will not. Eight candidates are on the ballot – we have shared their bios and now we will be introducing you to each candidate in a Q&A style interview: Callie Erickson, Megan Escherich Evans, Kelsey Johnson, Bozidar Jovanovic, Laura Labriola, John D. Leonard, John Moschetti, and Chris Repetto.
Today we introduce you to Christopher Repetto:
MyRye.com: Why are you running for school board?
Repetto: I have served on the board for three terms and very much look forward to the privilege of continuing my representation of the entire Rye community and continuing our focus on how we support and serve all of our kids. Our school system is perhaps the strongest link and source of “community belonging” among us all. We hear it time and time again from teachers and administrators who join from all over the region, Rye is a unique family of highly engaged students, parents, teachers, administrators and community members. I would love to continue to contribute to its continued success and evolution.
Why are you running for school board now?
Not to sound too flippant, but my current term, my third, is expiring and now seems to be the precisely appropriate time to seek re-election! I do think it is an important question to consider what motivates people to join the board in any given year and I will add my thoughts that people who run on a specific personal agenda or focus on a “problem they need to fix” will find the experience sorely disappointing. The role is that of one member of a team of seven and the duty is to represent the entire community.
Yes or No: did you support and vote for the $80 million school bond that passed in 2019?
Repetto: Yes. The work is critical; the District’s historical approach of taking on single, large projects in a linear progression had caused it to steadily fall behind in upkeep of aging infrastructure. The long-term, comprehensive capital plan developed over 5 years and initiated in 2019 is the most fiscally efficient and responsible approach to the broad needs across all of our buildings.
Yes or No: do you support and plan to vote in favor of the current as-proposed Superintendent’s Recommended Budget presented February 23rd of $94,237,421 million going to vote on vote on Tuesday, May 18th? [Note: This question was asked prior to the budget hearing on Tuesday, May 4th due to time constraints.]
Repetto: Yes! In an incredibly challenging year the administration has done a fantastic job of managing a remarkably volatile financial environment. It’s a tax cap compliant budget that supports key areas of our programming.
Please Answer the following questions Yes or No:
|Question||Repetto: Yes or No|
|Does the quality of Rye schools contribute materially to the value of homes in Rye?||Yes|
|Do you, have you or will you have children in the Rye City School District?||Yes|
|Have you been, or will you be in the next six weeks, fully vaccinated against COVID-19?||Yes|
|Do you believe the school district has done a responsible and an effective job of navigating the Coronavirus pandemic?||Yes|
In the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests last year concerning stories about bias in our schools and community came out. Do you acknowledge these stories and believe we should actively address issues of bias? Yes, or No?
Repetto: Yes. In June of 2020 we received a letter from ten recent graduates of Rye High School telling us that what they experienced as minorities was quite painfully different than what we presumed. These are our kids, part of our Rye family, reaching out to us for help. To not acknowledge the stories our kids are telling us about their experiences in our community would be unconscionable. To not consider and address areas where we may uncover biases or behaviors that are hurtful to our kids would be doubly so.
Are you supportive of school district’s Race, Community and Inclusivity Task Force, Yes, or No?
Repetto: Yes. The current task force has been asked to help the District gather information about our school and community environment; that is all. While the news seems to be filled almost daily with stories about school districts around the country making remarkably divisive and deeply questionable decisions and rushing through drastic changes to curricula, it is vitally important to note that we are taking a very, very different approach. Those districts making national headlines have taken the focus off of their students, all of their students. They have gotten caught up in ideologies, cultural theories and agendas and are failing to stay connected to their communities. Inclusivity is a goal that I believe the entire community believes in. It needs to be a long, thorough, student focused exercise. First, we need to figure out where we are. Second, we need to decide where we want to go. And, lastly, we need to collectively agree on the path to get there. We are at the very beginning of the first step and there needs to be no ideology involved beyond agreeing to stay focused on all of our kids.
What are the three biggest opportunities / challenges facing the Rye schools over the next 3-5 years?
- We have the opportunity to significantly advance the multi-decade process of evolving an education system designed at the turn of the 19th century focused on “content delivery and repetitive task training” (think standardized testing) into a 21st century system focused on student-centered, project-based, collaborative problem solving and “self directed content gathering”. That is quite a word salad, so in other words, we have the opportunity to move education from supporting how we worked a hundred years ago to how we all work now. This is the good stuff.
- We have the opportunity to take everything we have learned through the pandemic about teaching, learning and development both academic and social/emotional, and use it to improve all of our practices going forward. We have learned so much about new ways to engage, what works and what does not; it is exciting to think about what we can leverage going forward.
- Our greatest opportunity is to remain focused on supporting our kids. We state it as strongly as possible in the Rye Commitment to Students: We will provide the necessary support for you to receive an education that helps you become socially responsible, caring citizens who can think critically, communicate effectively, collaborate, and creatively solve problems in a diverse global environment.
What are the three biggest areas for cost containment with the Rye schools over the next 3-5 years?
- Managing the implementation of the capital plan with brutal efficiency.
- Our teachers have been extremely collaborative moving to a tax-cap sustainable, career-oriented compensation growth model, but all of our contracts get renegotiated every few years and will always be areas where cost containment is at stake.
- We have the opportunity to continue to build more supportive, more effective and cost efficient special education programs by focusing on scaling and balancing in-district capabilities to the needs of our students.
Where did you go to grade school?
Repetto: Garden City Public Schools
Who was your favorite teacher in grade school and why?
Repetto: It’s an unfair question…making me remember names from that far back! My 10th grade math teacher challenged me to expect more out of myself and did it in a way that was both uniquely supportive and demanding that it sticks out to this day. The lessons remain, the names fade!
What is your favorite book?
Repetto: Ugh, also an unfair question. It’s like picking a favorite food. If I had to pick just one author it would be Douglas Adams and The Hitchhikers Guide to The Galaxy…but I’m taking all six books of the trilogy. See what I did there, sorry, I know, I’m a pain that way.
What are you watching these days?
Repetto: As much NCAA Lacrosse as possible, there’s a hole to fill from last year.
How many years have you lived in Rye?
Please provide links to:
Your LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/christopher-repetto/
Your Twitter: @crep66
Your Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/christopher.repetto/
Chris Repetto has lived in Rye for 18 years, is completing his third Board term, and is the proud parent of two RHS graduates and a current freshman. Chris currently serves as Facilities Committee Chair and on the Audit Committee. Formerly he served as Board Vice President for two years, Finance Committee Chair, and on the Curriculum Council Committee. A 30-year veteran of global financial services and consulting, Chris is Senior Advisor to the Promontory Financial Group, advising large financial institutions regarding regulatory risk and compliance, cyber security, and technology risk. He has a BA in Economics/Psychology and a Graduate Certificate in Finance from the University of Rochester and an MBA from UVA’s Darden Graduate School of Business Administration.