Tom Stein, who is finishing his first term, will be running for re-election. He will be joined on the ballot by Shaun Kloepfer. Kloepfer will be new to the board, but has served in parent organizations and other capacities for the last seven years. Vivek Kamath, who along with Stein ran in a contested election in 2020, is not running.
The board and budget vote is on Tuesday, May 16th.
Today we are pleased to present the MyRye.com Q&A with board of education candidate Tom Stein. You can also read our recently published Q&A with Shaun Kloepfer, Board of Education Candidate.
Your Name: Tom Stein
MyRye.com: Why are you running for school board re-election?
STEIN: To continue to bring my professional expertise, as a lawyer and a business executive who has worked with and been on boards, to support and give back to my community.
Why are you running for school board now?
STEIN: I have served one full term (3 years) and have been impressed with the work and commitment of the Administration and my fellow board members. There is much work ahead (there always will be), but there is also a plan and I don’t believe my service has run its course.
Yes or No: Do you plan to support the upcoming school budget vote on Tuesday, May 16th?
What are three or four features of the current budget that make it worthy of voter support?
STEIN: To not sugarcoat anything, it is necessary. Most of the budget comes from salaries, benefits and operating our buildings and classrooms. In this inflation heavy year, the increases are mostly driven by increased costs, not by increased things or staff. I believe it is a responsible budget in the current financial environment. Anything smaller would likely require cutting existing services.
Beyond its budget, the Rye City School District sees financial support from the parent organizations from each of the five schools, as well as the Rye Fund for Education. Financially, what role do and should each of these entities play in the life of the school district?
STEIN: As these are both volunteer organizations (and we greatly appreciate everyone involved in both for their time and efforts), to a large degree that is, and should be, for the participants to decide, especially financially. That being said, the PTOs focus on individual schools and look to fill in gaps, immediate needs and special circumstances that they see, as well as organizing certain functions, in coordination with the schools. The Rye Fund for Education is more of a traditional fund-raising organization with a focus on providing financial support for innovation and certain facility improvements, especially those that don’t fit neatly into annual budgets. Both organizations help support the schools and I’ve been excited at the renewed vigor of the Rye Fund for Education.
What are the three biggest opportunities / challenges facing the Rye schools over the next 3-5 years?
- Demographics always have uncertainty, but there is a real chance enrollment grows meaningfully in the upcoming years, which can create opportunities, but will always create challenges as well.
- Continued innovation. The science of teaching continues to evolve and improve, which is great for students and education, but requires advance planning and organization for us to take advantage of.
- Use of data, and the strategies implemented over the last several years, provide great opportunity to position kids for success and to avoid kids falling through cracks.
What are the three biggest areas for cost containment with the Rye schools over the next 3-5 years?
I’m going to audible a bit here, because cost containment for schools is much more about long-term planning than short-term actions. So keeping costs contained in the next 3-5 years, really relates more to decisions already made in terms of:
- addressing infrastructure issues before they are critical and putting better short, medium and long term management plans in place;
- negotiating good labor agreements; and
- optimizing staffing, planning and operations to best be flexible for the unknown events that will surely come
And then continuing to make wise planning and decisions over the next 3-5 years, that will affect the years to come after that.
What is your favorite book?
STEIN: The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien
What are you watching these days?
STEIN: Lakers in the playoffs.
How many years have you lived in Rye?
Where did you grow up?
STEIN: Toledo, Ohio
When you were a kid, what was your favorite thing to do on a snow day?
STEIN: Play football in the snow, snowball fights, watch Star Wars for the nth time on the VCR.
Here is the bio and quote Kloepfer provided to the District:
Tom Stein has lived in Rye for six years and has three children at Osborn School. He has served on the Board of Education since 2020. He is in his second year on the Board’s Audit Committee and has previously served on the Facilities and Curriculum Council Committees. Tom is currently the Deputy General Counsel for CLEAR, where he leads legal for CLEAR’s business operations. He was formerly with American Express as a senior counsel, a global general manager, and a business development executive. Prior to that, he was with the law firm of Proskauer Rose. He has served as a Board Member for the Terra Incognita Theater and a Manhattan co-op and has significant experience advising boards in a professional capacity. He has a JD from the New York University School of Law.
Our schools are Rye’s most precious asset and I would welcome the opportunity to continue to serve the community by bringing my legal expertise and professional experience to provide support, advice, objectivity, and oversight to the School District. I have significant experience serving on and advising boards and my work as an attorney brings a unique perspective to my Board of Education service.