Endorses ‘outsider’ Shekane for school board because of drive for efficiencies and cost savings

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To the editor:

Our civic duty demands our attention, thankfully, yet again! Tomorrow, we face critical decisions regarding the futures of our little ones and, thus, our community! Tomorrow, we must vote for members of our school board and our annual school budget.

We must choose three Board of Education members from among four of our beloved friends, neighbors and colleagues who have chosen to submit to a sacrifice of a tremendous amount of time, effort, reputation, financial risk and much more because each believes in a vision to shape the futures of our young students.

That we must choose three, frankly, seems not fair, particularly to those of us who know and cherish all four. Yet, our civic duty demands our attention, thankfully, yet again. It requires each of us to consider what we deem best for our community’s future.

I support Steven Shekane to become a member of the Board of Education. I guess we must consider him an “outsider,” as there is a well-established system for bringing prospective school board members before the voters and he was not included. He had to pound the pavement (by himself, based on what he believed) and obtained the petition signatures necessary to make himself relevant despite being an outsider. He had to handle all filings himself, with no guidance or assistance. He had to maneuver his way through an election labyrinth alone. He did so because he holds important beliefs about the future of education in Pelham.

All of our candidates are qualified, period. Yet, given the vast and overwhelming impact that our annual school budget has on the massive property taxes that each of us pays, Steve brings a background not only in academic economics, but also an MBA in finance from Columbia. His background is in finance and he has worked in investment banking and investment management for more than two decades. He has spent hundreds of hours analyzing public Pelham school budgets, papers and supporting papers and has asked many questions of our school board as he has learned more and more as an “outsider.” Now that a group that calls itself the “Progressive Women of Pelham” has excluded Steve from their endorsement, it is even more clear that he is a choice for change as a true outsider.

Steve stands first for driving efficiencies and cost savings in the budget, period. He wants to use some of such savings to invest in improving special education. He has important ideas and wants to improve strategic long-term planning regarding facilities and capital improvements. He has been thinking, studying and puzzling for years regarding what he might be able to do to improve long-term planning and long-term finance for solving difficult issues related to aging infrastructure, new property acquisition, issues related to new housing developments, increasing enrollments, and major construction projects, among other things.

Steve lacks nothing when compared to any other candidate when it comes to community involvement, so I urge all to consider him on his priorities for the board. He has served on the Prospect Hill Site-Based Council, the SEPTA board, as treasurer of the Pelham Children’s Center, is an active member of the Pelham Civics Association, and more.

Look! Steve has been a child advocate and special education advocate for much of his adult life and, now, wants to bring those passions to our school board. THAT, in the context of his background, experience and vision seals the deal for me.

I only can ask that you support Steve. I understand that each of us must make our own decision for the three best of our four choices. Please include Steve among yours for the sake of our little ones and, thus, our community.

Blake A. Bell

20 Beech Tree Lane