July 24, 2024

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Lakeland BOE Election: Seven Candidates Vie for Three Seats

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SHRUB OAK, N.Y. – Seven candidates are vying for three seats on the Lakeland Central School District Board of Education. Incumbents Michael Daly and Angela Conti are facing challenges from Tatyana Krychkina, Anna Massaro, Carmella Pervizi, Marisa Ragonese, and Vincent Xavier. Trustee Karen Pressman is not running for re-election.

Registered voters who live in the district can cast their ballots in the budget and trustee vote between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m. Tuesday, May 18, at Van Cortlandtville Elementary School.

Angela Conti

Who are you? Provide a brief overview of your background and experience.

I am Angela Conti, and I am honored to be serving in my third year as a Lakeland Board of Education trustee. My family has lived in Cortlandt Manor for 25 years. I have a bachelor’s degree in accounting and finance and have completed all the coursework toward a master’s degree in elementary and special education. I was a business operations manager at a major communications company dealing with accounting, budgets, communications, human resources, diversity training, and emergency preparedness, all of which have been relevant to my work on the board.

I have volunteered in Lakeland for the last 15 years. Previously, I have been:

  • PTA member
  • Class parent
  • President of Walter Panas Parent Club
  • Member of the District Parents’ Council

I am currently:

  • Board Trustee
  • Chairperson, BOE Audit Committee
  • Chairperson, BOE Budget Committee
  • Member of District Youth Council
  • Member of District Management Policy Committee
  • Member of District Equity Committee

What inspired you to run for school board and what do you hope to accomplish with a three-year term?

I am extremely grateful to the LCSD for the education my son received. He had a reading disability and started receiving special education services in second grade. The support we got from the teachers and administrators was amazing. With that support, he became an honors student, and went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in engineering. My gratitude to the district, my strong belief in public education, and my dedication to community service inspire me to work hard to ensure that the standards in Lakeland remain high, so that other families can have a similar experience. As an active member of the Audit and Budget committees, I believe my financial background will help ensure that Lakeland remains a financially healthy district, providing quality education to our students as well as extra-curricular enrichment in sports and the arts while minimizing the tax burden on our community.

What do you believe is the role of a school board trustee?

I believe the role of a successful school board trustee is to represent the entire community, exercise leadership, and most of all, be an advocate for students while being fiscally responsible. I believe that it is important to hear from all stakeholders in the community when making decisions. I am fair, honest, dependable, and I work well with others, all important attributes of a good trustee. I have demonstrated my willingness to put in the time to make informed decisions based on facts and on what is in the best interest of our students, families, and district employees. Many people do not realize how much work is required of a board trustee outside the two monthly public meetings. The majority of board work is actually done in the committees we choose to join. I am proud to be currently actively involved in five committees and chairperson of two.

Michael Daly

Who are you? Provide a brief overview of your background and experience.

I am a 24-year resident of the school district, married for 29 years with three daughters. My oldest two daughters graduated from Lakeland High School, while my youngest will graduate in 2022. I am completing my second year as Board of Education president and my sixth year overall as a trustee.

Professionally, I am a senior vice president and registered financial advisor with an international financial services firm. I hold both an undergraduate degree and an MBA in finance. In total, I have 37 years of diverse experience in the industry.

As an active community volunteer, I have served six years as treasurer of the Lakeland Education Foundation and seven years as the director of the Shrub Oak Athletic Club Girls’ Basketball program. I am fortunate to have coached my daughters’ teams for 20-plus years. Pre-COVID, I would regularly spend 20-plus hours a week in the district’s gyms, coaching kids and speaking with parents and staff.

What inspired you to run for school board and what do you hope to accomplish with a three-year term?

Seeing how much our district can accomplish when my fellow trustees and I work cohesively with the parents, administrators, teachers, staff, and taxpayers has inspired me to run for re-election.

Our students are excelling academically, in the arts, and in athletics. This board has increased funding for drama programs, built collegiate level sporting facilities, upgraded technology, and added School Resource Officers in each school. Through prudent expense management and careful planning, the district reduced debt, funded reserve accounts, and proposed a zero-percent tax increase for the second consecutive year. 

If re-elected, my short-term goal is to assist the district in wisely using federal grant money and district reserves to meet the academic, social, and emotional needs of our students post-pandemic. Longer term, the district will be faced with difficult and polarizing issues. My goal is to find balance among all voices, ensuring all are heard and respected.

What do you believe is the role of a school board trustee?

Each trustee is one of a nine-member board. Together, we are tasked with setting district policy, creating its long-term vision, approving curriculum, and overseeing the budget. Policies and vision are often a compromise between the needs of stakeholders, education law, and union contracts. There is no place for a personal agenda. To be effective as a trustee, we must always remember that we must listen to and represent the interests of all stakeholders. 

I serve on the district’s Construction and Audit committees. My financial experience allows me to provide an insight into budgeting, project analysis, and financing decisions. Similarly, I believe each trustee should bring their unique skills to the district.

Finally, a trustee must be willing to attend district functions, including National Honor Society inductions, engineering nights, drama productions, and sporting events. Being seen and approachable in public is essential to understanding the needs of the community.

Tatyana Krychkina

Who are you? Provide a brief overview of your background and experience.

I am a mental health professional and the mother of a student at Lincoln Titus Elementary. My family has resided in Cortlandt Manor for seven years.

I have over 17 years of professional experience in the mental health field, mainly devoted to child welfare. Currently, I supervise two clinical teams working with children ages 11 to 17 with serious behavioral problems and preventing out-of-home placement. My skillset includes clinical supervision, managerial skills, advocacy, networking, collaboration with other agencies and stakeholders, participation in committee on special education meetings, and budget allocation.

My educational background includes three master’s degrees: psychology from Moscow Open State Pedagogical University, psychology with concentration in mental health and substance abuse counseling from New School University, and social work with concentration in organizational management and leadership from Hunter College.

What inspired you to run for school board and what do you hope to accomplish with a three-year term?

I am passionate about creating an enriching educational environment for children so they can thrive and develop to their full potential. I believe in transparency, communication, collaboration with parents, and accountability of school administration to challenge themselves to do what is best for our children. I believe that children learn best and thrive when provided in-person education.

If elected, I would like to bring forward the following agenda:

  • Continuing five days in-person education with precautions in place per all governmental requirements with remote attendance as an option.
  • Assessing all students’ progress compared to limited pre- and post-pandemic benchmarks.
  • Improve Wellness Committee activity in addressing social-emotional and mental health needs resulting from the pandemic.
  • Evaluation of resource allocations and assess what may be done to free up financial resources.
  • Assessing what areas of improvement our district may target in strengthening college preparedness and admission rates.
  • Collaboration and timely communication with parents.

What do you believe is the role of a school board trustee?

A school board trustee represents interests of the community: parents, taxpayers, students, and school personnel.

A Board of Education trustee must continuously educate themselves on the issues pertaining to the district and research solutions from different points of reference.

A Board of Education trustee must respect and support decisions of the board once they are voted on and accepted.

A board trustee must work in collaboration with the superintendent and school district to find balance between the needs of the interested parties and ensure that teachers are treated fairly as well.

Anna Massaro

Who are you? Provide a brief overview of your background and experience.

My name is Anna Massaro, and I would like to introduce myself as a candidate for board member of the Lakeland School District Board of Education. I moved to Yorktown Heights to be in the Lakeland School District. I am a proud resident and have lived in Yorktown Heights since 2016. I have two children in the Lakeland Central School District: my son is in fourth grade at Thomas Jefferson Elementary School and my daughter is in seventh grade at Lakeland Copper Beech Middle School.

I attended Pace University and earned a B.S. in education with a minor in mathematics. I earned licenses in early childhood education (PreK and kindergarten), common branch (Grades 1-6), middle school mathematics (7-12) and special education (PreK-12). I also earned a master’s degree in school counseling from Long Island University and completed my doctoral program in teacher leadership from Concordia University.

What inspired you to run for school board and what do you hope to accomplish with a three-year term?

Education has always been a passionate calling for me. I believe that with structure and support, every child can work to their full potential at their own pace. I am running for the Lakeland Board of Education to contribute my fresh ideas and positive solutions to the Lakeland Central School District as a board trustee. My philosophy is that there is always a workable solution available that will enhance our students’ educational experiences. The most effective solutions come from working together. I understand that this job cannot be done alone, making input and the support of our community vital to the progression of our school district. Together, we can work collaboratively as a team to not only find solutions, but to also create opportunities for our children to thrive. I hope to increase transparency, open communication with the community, and community involvement where all voices are heard and respected. 

What do you believe is the role of a school board trustee?

The trustees on the school board play an important role in the success of our school district. No one person can make changes within a school board alone. Each trustee brings specific talents, skills, and expertise to contribute to the collective work of the board for the benefit of the district, the community, and its children.

A school board trustee has many roles and responsibilities that are tied to governance, policies, budgeting, and more. Board trustees must also cultivate a culture of support and success within the community. I believe the school board is an extension of the community and therefore, must advocate for all its children. The most important responsibility of a school board and its trustees is to work with their community so that all its children are successful in gaining access to learning and to ensure they are college and/or career ready.

Carmella Pervizi

Who are you? Provide a brief overview of your background and experience.

I am passionate for our childrens’ well-being. I have a disabled child who has been bullied for years in our school system. I believe in being a good role model, teaching others to be kind, and not bullying others for their differences. I believe in hope for humanity with all the chaos surrounding us now. I will fight for justice, transparency, accountability, family values, and morals. I am an advocate, leader, mother, entrepreneur, and a creative motivational speaker at times. I wear many hats and love to inspire and empower goodness in others. I have a master’s degree in education, have personally taught in the public school system for 15 years, and understand the dynamics of how things work and get done. For many years, I advocated for parents of children with special needs, including my own, and fought to get additional services. I own a WBE-certified contracting business (Women-Owned Business Enterprise) and work in the real estate industry.

What inspired you to run for school board and what do you hope to accomplish with a three-year term?

I was inspired to run for the school board because I want to make it my duty to represent the parents voice and make all parents voices and concerns heard. I want to make sure everything is transparent and is enabling parents to be a part of the process of implementing good choices for their children in schools. My hope is to have an active PTA committee that encourages more parent involvement, strategies, and workshops to integrate kindness and a no-tolerance policy for bullying of any kind. We need to understand differences, help one another, accept others, and learn from each other. I hope to facilitate and empower others so we can make quality, logical decisions and choices while keeping in mind the emotional development of our children so that it can be a positive experience and solution for everyone.

What do you believe is the role of a school board trustee?

My main role as a school board trustee is to oversee the education of our students and inform parents of what we are doing in school. I want to make sure my position is reflective of the needs of our community. I want to make sure we maintain strong ethical standards within the board and build on progress through continuous improvements and changes when needed. I want to be able to develop a budget with the members that have parental input and aligning it with district resources. I would also like to support a healthy school culture and working environment.

Marisa Ragonese

Who are you? Provide a brief overview of your background and experience.

I live in Mohegan Lake with my husband and our daughter, who is a fourth grader at George Washington Elementary School. I was a youth worker for about 20 years. For the past six years, I have run county-wide youth councils; leadership and civic engagement programs for middle schoolers and high schoolers in Westchester.   

Before working in Westchester, I ran Queens’ first LGBTQ+ youth drop-in center for about 10 years. I have an educational background in the humanities and social sciences from NYU and Rutgers, and I am a PhD candidate in the field of social welfare. My research interests grew organically from my experiences with LGBTQ+ kids: root causes of peer aggression, bullying, and effective interventions to address these causes. I have done hundreds of workshops with thousands of teens, younger children, school administrators, and teachers about LGBT+ people, stereotypes, discrimination, and acceptance.

What inspired you to run for school board and what do you hope to accomplish with a three-year term?

Public schools are our most important institution for supporting and strengthening our democracy, and they are vital to helping our kids identify and cultivate the unique contributions they can offer the world. This identification and cultivation cannot happen unless every child has a safe and supportive school environment. Safe and supportive school environments take time, vision, and dedication to create and sustain. I believe my knowledge and expertise can help strengthen this very important dimension of any school district, including Lakeland. Furthermore, as a dedicated youth worker, I always try to sit at decision making tables as an advocate for young people. It is my job, and it is my calling. I have spent my career working to create communities where all kids do not just survive, but they thrive. I do not want to sit back and let someone else do that work in the community I live in.

What do you believe is the role of a school board trustee?

School board trustees have many roles. They help direct the goals of the district, from fiscal to academic, and do the necessary collaborative work to reach those goals. They review and shape the range of policies, they support and represent parents, students, the district, and they are community liaisons. I believe that a school board trustee’s first and foremost responsibility is pursuing the best interest of the district. It is an enormous responsibility and privilege, and I hope the voters decide to give me the opportunity to serve the community.

Vincent Xavier

Who are you? Provide a brief overview of your background and experience.

I grew up in Ossining, graduated from Manhattan College, and in 2007 I received my JD from Brooklyn Law School, where I was a member of the Moot Court Honor Society. I am self employed as a real estate development consultant for the telecommunications industry. I moved to Cortlandt with my wife 11 years ago and have two children who attend Lincoln Titus Elementary. I was the co-manager of a local Destination Imagination team for three years, coached one of the town’s youth soccer teams, and have been one of the vice presidents of the Lincoln Titus PTA for the past two years.

What inspired you to run for school board and what do you hope to accomplish with a three-year term?

In August, when I was informed that the district had to delay in-person learning due to faculty issues and that the original reopening plan called for a late start to each school day, I felt parents’ needs were not being given priority and began attending BOE meetings. When ordered by the governor to hold three to five “public meetings,” our district held only three virtual meetings with pre-selected questions, and one of them only lasted about 30 minutes. After asking several times for town hall-style meetings and not seeing movement toward this from the board, I decided the best way to encourage the board to involve the community more in the decision-making process was to be on it. I hope to accomplish this by convincing the other board members it would be best to better notify parents of important meetings and to provide town hall-style meetings occasionally.

What do you believe is the role of a school board trustee?

The duty of the board in general is to efficiently use tax dollars to provide all students within the district the opportunity to receive a high-quality education that gives them the skills necessary to become productive members of society. As a trustee, it is your role to work with the community to fulfill that duty by meeting the needs of parents and respecting the cost to taxpayers.

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