Incumbent Robyne Camp:
1) How long have you lived in Irvington? Do you have—or have you had—children in the Irvington schools?
- I have lived in Irvington since 1997. My husband Herb Camp has lived here for 40 years, and we plan to stay in Irvington for the rest of our lives.
- I do not have children of my own, although my niece lived with us during her high school years, so I am well-acquainted with the challenges of raising a teen.
- The fact that I do not have children in our schools makes me uniquely qualified to serve on our school board because I can take stands a parent must think twice about. I don’t need to worry about upsetting my children, or alienating teachers I’ll be counting on to write letters of recommendation for my kids’ college applications, or affecting my children’s likelihood of being chosen for the Peer Leadership program, etc.
- The problem for parents serving on the school board isn’t so much that such things would happen, necessarily. The problem is – and I know this from conversations with parents in the community – that people have it in the back of their minds such things might happen.
- What it comes down to: I can represent every child in the district without ever having to ask myself whether I am acting in the best interests of my own child.
2) What experience—either personal or professional—do you have that makes you a strong candidate to serve on the Irvington Board or Education?
- Growing up as an Army brat, I attended 12 public schools in 12 years.
- My first career was in financial services. I worked for Citi, where I specialized in complex lending to insurance companies. My second career began after I was widowed in my 40s in the middle of a recession. I attended law school and, after passing the bar, did pro bono work with special needs children in the foster care system. I went on to represent abused and neglected children in appeals cases, and to prosecute domestic violence crimes as a pro bono assistant district attorney in Brooklyn.
3) What issues facing the district do you feel most strongly about? (property taxes, curriculum, services for students with special needs, academic or extra-curricular programs etc.)
- During my first term, I focused on bringing new leadership and strong financial controls to the District. The district is now run in a much more family-friendly and responsible way.Today we have four fewer administrators than we did three years ago. My guiding principle in a still-recovering economy: we should not lay off teachers in order to hire administrators. Next year I’ll focus on academics and work with our new superintendent to reduce the number of struggling readers, adopt a world-class elementary math curriculum, and bring foreign language instruction to Dows Lane.
4) What is your tentative plan to address these issues?
- All of these proposals are widely supported by the community, and committees within the school district have also voiced a consensus for a better curriculum. I’ll work to win board approval for changes, and our new superintendent can implement the curriculum improvements.
- Three years ago, at the start of the Great Recession, I fought the building of artificial turf fields. That experience alerted me to waste and mismanagement in our school district – waste and mismanagement that threatened the quality of our programs. We can’t spend money on construction ‘do-overs.’ We don’t have it to spend!This situation has been turned around, and it’s time to focus on individual student achievement. In my next term, that’s what I will do. I will support our new superintendent as he works to make his district’s motto – “Every student, every day” – a reality for our kids here in Irvington.
Stay tuned for profiles of candidates: Della Lenz, Robyn Kerner, John Dawson and Maria Kashkin.