This is the third in a series about the upcoming Peekskill school board election and budget vote on May 15. We'll also provide a candidate Q&A with the rest of the candidates who are vying for the two open seats and who provided responses to our questions.
Lisa Aspinall-Kellawon is a first time candidate to the Peekskill City School Board. The others running for the two open seats are: incumbent and first-time candidates Colin Smith and Darryl V. Footmon.
Aspinall-Kellawon has lived in Peekskill for the past six years and is a member of the Mount Olivet Baptist Church and serves on the Children's Chuch Ministry and the Hospitality Ministry. She worked as a teacher in the Central Harlem School District for 16 years and has worked as a substitute in Peekskill City School District for the past several years. She does not have any children who have attended Peekskill schools.
Read Aspinall-Kellawon's answers to Patch’s questions below.
Q: Why are you running for the Peekskill school board?
I am running for a seat on the Peekskill School Board because I am very passionate about issues pertaining to all children. I believe that I could be a contributing voice from the perspective of an educator.
Q: Why should district residents elect you to the school board?
I believe district residents should elect me to the school board because I am a committed and dedicated person who would like to be involved in the process of dealing with the difficult decisions of educating children with limited resources.
Q: What experience either personal or professional do you have that makes you a strong candidate to serve on the Peekskill Board of Education?
My experience as a NYC teacher for sixteen years I believe makes me a strong candidate to serve on the board. I have served on several committees while teaching in NYC which had used a consensus approach. The hiring of teachers and principles and working on the Comprehensive Educational Plan CEP. That is a process where schools state how they plan to address certain deficits the state may have cited in a certain revue.
Q: What do you consider the three top concerns in the district?
I believe the three top concerns in the district are having high expectations for the students, a safe environment and proficient and efficient spending to support our students’ academic success.
Q: What is your tentative plan to address these issues?
I do not have a tentative plan because the board is a about me. The board is about us and we need to come to remedies for issues as a group. When the opportunity does arise I will share my ideas and pose questions. However everyone who is on the board have to work together for the common good of children.
Q: How do you think the recently mandated 2-percent tax cap will impact the future of education?
I believe that is tax cap will affect urban and struggling school systems adversely. I think the students who need the most help will struggle without support services. The achievement gap will increase.
Q: What is your opinion of the proposed 2012-2013 budget and the impact of the tax cap on the tax levy.
A: I believe that the board did the best that they could with the monies allotted for the district. I do not believe anyone wants to cut personnel or programs that would benefit our student’s success. It is a difficult position to be placed in to know more is needed but less is available. I believe as a community we have to ask ourselves what we really want for our children’s future and respond accordingly.
Q: What would you propose to improve student achievement (as measured by test scores) in general and reading in particular?
I would just propose that we use higher order thinking questions which will increase student’s critical thinking skills. Increase vocabulary development and try to keep children engaged in rich content material.
Q: What do you think of hallway sweeps to combat tardiness at Peekskill High School?
I think the sweeps are a good thing. We need to remind our students of their purpose our being in the school building is to learn first and foremost. Yes, they also socialize, cut up and have a good time in school. However, our main goal is preparing they for their purposeful future…we care.
Q: What do you think of the district’s new alternative education program?
I would not say that I know a lot about the program. What I do know is they are trying to get students reconnected in school who have not been reached yet for one reason or another. It is another way of putting out the effort to reach kids where they are, and not just saying we can not educate you.
q: What organizations/groups do you belong to?
I am an active member in the Mount Olivet Baptist Church Children’s Church and Hospitality Ministry and I am a member of the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Q: Is there anything we haven’t asked you that you would like the public to know about you or your candidacy?
I believe all children can learn and I believe teachers come to school with the hope of inspiring children to learn more than they knew the day before.