Board of Ed Candidates
April 30, 2017
On Tuesday May 16, residents of the Byram Hills School District will vote on the 2017-1018 school budget of $90,590,230. Voters will determine whether the Board of Education should be authorized to levy the necessary tax upon taxable property in the school district. Election voting hours are 6:30 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. at H. C. Crittenden Middle School.
Voters will also have the opportunity to vote for two candidates to serve on Byram Hills Board of Education. The three candidates running for two seats are Brett Summers, Ira Schulman, and Lori Kanner.
Brett Summers, President
“Brett Summers is serving in his twelfth year on the Board of Education and his sixth year as a Board officer. During his Board service, Brett has served on all of the various Board committees and in most liaison roles. Brett also serves on the Executive Committee and Board of Directors of the Westchester Putnam School Boards Association (WPSBA), and is Chair of the WPSBA Audit & Finance Committee. Through his affiliations with WPSBA and the New York State School Boards Association, Brett regularly engages in advocacy work for public education and the Byram Hills School District.”
Prior to joining the Board of Education, Brett served on various Board advisory committees, and is a past member and Chairperson of the Byram Hills Non Partisan Committee for Board of Education Candidates. Brett also served as the Regional Commissioner of Armonk's AYSO youth soccer program from 2004-2007, and is a former member of the management team of the Armonk United Soccer Club. Brett was active in Armonk's Cub Scout pack as Assistant Cub Master and Den Leader, and currently assists Middlebury College as an alumni interviewer. Following Middlebury College, Northwestern Law School, and national law firm practice, Brett was a senior bank regulatory and enforcement attorney at a federal banking agency. Brett moved to Armonk with his wife, Jane, to raise their family in the Byram Hills School District. They have two children.”
Brett Summer’s Personal Statement
What motivates me? Roughly 98 percent of our students are from families that move here for our school district. My family was no different. But while some may seek a seat on their local school board to support their children’s experience, I ran for the School Board twelve years ago to enhance the value of our District in particular and public education in general. In doing so, this preserves and enhances the strong property values that we all enjoy. I am especially pleased by the influence I’ve had on our District in the areas of transparency, technology, and good governance. Central to my views, however, is a focus on what matters most – the academic, social and emotional wellness and development of the children and young adults we educate.
I am a retired federal regulatory attorney with a litigation and enforcement background. I have 12 years of Board of Education experience (three as President), and will be working with my fourth Superintendent. I also have approximately six years of grassroots and advocacy experience working with our local, state and federal elected representatives and organizations promoting broad initiatives that help Byram Hills succeed, and reduce obstacles to our greater success. All this helps me to play a valuable role on our School Board as we direct policy development and supervise the Superintendent as they carry out their responsibilities. These contributions are even more important with the unusually high degree of administrative turnover we have experienced recently.
With a spate of recent retirements, including many administrators with over 20 or 25 years in the District, we have new department heads for Music and Fine Arts, Technology, Athletics, Special Services and Transportation. Starting soon, we also will have a new first year Superintendent, a first year Principal at Coman Hill, a first year Principal at HCC, and a Principal just completing his first year at our high school. Soon we will also have a new Assistant to the Superintendent joining the District Office administrative team. Simply put, our new Superintendent will have her hands full in her first few years. She is fully up to the task ahead, but after a great deal of encouragement from many individuals deeply involved with our District, I have decided to run again and am fully committed to serving out another term as a Board member.
New school board members face a steep learning during their first year or so in service. Currently, two of my Board colleagues are completing their first year of service, and three are just finishing their second year of service. As a whole, our Board functions extremely well, but adding another new Board member at this time can only increase demands on our new Superintendent at a time when she should be fully focused on running the District.
And for those who value third party evaluations of our District, there are many indicators of our success. Over 70 percent of our high school graduates are accepted into at least one school in the top 12 percent of colleges and universities as ranked by US News and World Report. That same publication just ranked our high school as #34 in the state (out of over 1500 high schools) and #215 in the country (out of over 24,000 high schools). Our middle school was awarded the distinction of being named as a Blue Ribbon School by the federal Department of Education, and we are only one of three or four Districts in the state (out of over 700 districts) with a AAA bond rating. These achievements could occur only with a Board and a District functioning at an optimal level. An experienced school board will help assure our continued success whatever the future holds for our community. To be able to serve my community in this way and with such colleagues is a pleasure and a privilege.
Ira M. Schulman
“Ira is serving his eighteenth year on the Board of Education and has served seven terms as Board President. Ira is a partner at the national law firm of Pepper Hamilton LLP, and specializes in all aspects of construction law. Ira's practice primarily involves the negotiation of construction contracts and the disposition of complex construction disputes through litigation or alternative dispute resolution procedures. He is a frequent lecturer on construction law for various bar associations and continuing legal education providers.”
In the mid 1990’s, Ira served three years as Commissioner of the Armonk region of the American Youth Soccer Organization and served for many years on its board of directors. He is a past chairperson of the Coman Hill site based council and Byram Hills School Board Non-Partisan Nominating Committee. He has also served several terms as an officer and trustee of Temple Shaaray Tefila. In addition, Ira served six years on the board of governors of The Windmill Club including two years as its president. He is currently Vice-President of Hope’s Door, a Westchester based not-for-profit dedicated to assisting victims of domestic abuse.”
Ira is a graduate of Lehigh University and Georgetown University Law School. He and his wife, Betty, a physical therapist, have lived in the District for 29 years. Their children graduated from Byram Hills in 2004 and 2008.”
Ira Schulman’s Personal Statement
I am seeking re-election to the Byram Hills Board of Education for several reasons: First, I believe my 18 years of service on the Board of Education, including seven terms as Board President, provides a unique reservoir of experience on all aspects of the operation of the School District, both inside and outside the classroom. This experience will be particularly helpful in the coming years as Byram Hills welcomes a new superintendent, two new principals and other high level administrators.
During my tenure on the Board, Byram Hills has achieved statewide and national recognition as an elite school district in New York State. Our teaching and curriculum offerings are excellent, our facilities are superb and our extra-curricular programs (e.g., athletics, drama/arts) are remarkable.
Second, a majority of the Board of Education has fewer than two years' experience. I have been and will continue to be of assistance to each of them. Experience is important. The Board is in charge of a $90MM operation that entails complex issues that require complex choices.
Third, I have had the pleasure of seeing my children travel from kindergarten through high school graduation in Byram Hills--this allows me to analyze issues on a broad perspective--not tethered to any one or two schools.
Finally, on a seven member school board, it is important to have at least one board member who has a history of service to Byram Hills but no longer has children in the school district. Remember, empty nesters pay school taxes, too, and we need to understand their interests so they will continue their support of the School District.
I am truly honored to serve on the Board of Education and I hope the voters will allow me to continue my work.
Lori Kanner and her family moved to Armonk in 2004. During the 12 years she has lived here, Lori has been involved in the school district at every level. Lori has served on the Board of Directors of the Byram Hills Education Foundation for six years, recently finishing her second term as President of the Board. This year, she is co-chair of the eighth grade moving-up ceremony at H.C. Crittenden Middle School. Having three children in the Byram Hills school district, Lori has been a member of the Parent-Teacher-Student Association (PTSA) for the past 10 years.
Before moving to Armonk, Lori's career as a lawyer centered on public service. She worked at the United Nations and clerked for a federal judge in the Southern District, The Honorable Shirley Wohl Kram, and New York Supreme Court Judge Joseph Levine. In addition, Lori interned at the Queens District Attorney’s Office before representing the People of the State of New York as an Assistant District Attorney for the Kings County District Attorney’s Office. From there, Lori moved to private practice defending insurance companies and professionals.
Lori is a graduate of Emory St. John’s School of Law. She and her husband Michael, a financial analyst, have three children in the Byram Hills school district, currently attending Wampus Elementary, H.C. Crittenden Middle School and Byram Hills High School.
Lori Kanner’s Personal Statement
I am running for the Board of Education because I would like to take the next step after serving as the President of the Byram Hills Education Foundation. As President of the Byram Hills Education Foundation I enjoyed working with the administration, teachers, parents and students of this district. I am passionate about the education and well being of all children. I personally believe that in order to be a vibrant member of the Board of Education one needs to have children being educated in the schools of this district. This affords the board member first hand current knowledge of the issues at each school. I am looking forward to serving.
Julie Eskay-Eagle and Michelle Boyle contributed to this article. Personal statements have been provided by the candidates and have not been checked for accuracy. The statements are published as submitted. The incumbents’ paragraphs appear from ByramHills.org.