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Steve Shekane announces candidacy for Board of Education

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Editor’s note: The following announcement was provided by Steve Shekane.

I am excited and proud to announce my candidacy for the Pelham Board of Education.  

My family and I moved to Pelham in 2013, drawn by the excellent school system and the small, tight-knit community. We have two children, a daughter in the sixth grade and a son in the fifth grade, both of whom have disabilities and who attended Prospect Hill. Professionally, I have a background in finance, working in investment banking and investment management for over 20 years. I earned a BA in Economics and History from the University of Pennsylvania and an MBA in Finance from Columbia University.  

Many of my core values have been shaped by my upbringing. I was born and raised in Brooklyn to parents who emigrated to the US from Egypt. They stressed the importance of hard work and a strong education. I attended Catholic schools, and it was at my Jesuit high school where the importance of giving back to others and serving one’s community was instilled in me. Our slogan was “Men for Others” and that is how I’ve tried to live my life.

I quickly immersed myself in serving the Pelham community and schools upon moving here. I was elected as a Site Based Council representative at Prospect Hill and also served as a board member for SEPTA. I am a lector at OLPH, I coach both my kids in rec soccer and little league, and I formed a men’s rec softball team now in its second season. I have been a member of the Pelham Civics for five years and twice chaired our dinner dance, which were the two most successful events in the history of the organization in terms of attendance and funds raised.  I also served as Treasurer and Board Member of the Pelham Children’s Center for over a year where I lead an effort resulting in over $100K in improved financial performance for an organization that was operating deep in the red. Outside of Pelham, I serve as Class Fund Chairman at Regis High School and as Vice President for my alumni class at Penn. Needless to say, I’m not afraid of working hard and getting my hands dirty to achieve successful outcomes.

Our town and our school district are seeing a great deal of change over the next few years. We have a number of construction projects underway in our district, including a new Hutchinson School. Our teachers’ contract expires in June 2020 and will be negotiated over the next fourteen months. There are a number of proposed residential developments that have the potential to add students at Hutchinson, Colonial and our upper schools. And we face continuing pressure to squeeze as much as we can out of our budget in light of the tax cap and declining support from NY State (our district Is seeing a decline of $250K in state aid in the upcoming budget and we receive only about half of what we should be from Albany). These budgetary pressures are resulting in a proposed decline of nearly 9.5 FTE positions across our district next year. This is not a trend that anyone wants to see, especially as we expect an increase in enrollment over the next few years.

We need to continue to invest in our school system, and we need to spend those dollars wisely while continuing to seek ways to save money in the existing budget. I believe we need to take a long-term view on our physical facilities and capital projects and avoid waiting until there’s an emergency to spend money. More often than not, that approach is more expensive.

I also believe our district must hold true to its slogan of “Inspiring Excellence for All Students.” We need to ensure the money we spend is enhancing student outcomes. For example, we are budgeting $7.5 million on special education, but need to see better results from the program. Performance on state ELA and Math exams shows there is a significant achievement gap between our special ed and general ed students. While the district is adding an elementary psychologist and an interventionist next year using unexpected state aid, it has also budgeted a cut of two special ed teachers at the secondary level and is dramatically increasing spending on sending special needs students out of district. These are extremely troubling trends. As a small community, we should be improving our own special education program and making sure our children most in need are not slipping through the cracks and can also be inspired toward excellence alongside their friends and neighbors.

I want to give back to Pelham as a member of the Board of Education and serve as a representative and advocate for our families. I want to use my professional expertise, volunteer experience, and my style of asking the hard questions to get to the right answer to develop creative and collaborative solutions to any challenges we may face.

I would love to hear from any members of the community with your thoughts or concerns ahead of the election. I can be reached at steven.shekane@gmail.com.

Thank you and I hope you’ll vote for me as one of your three choices on May 21st.

1 Comment

One Response to “Steve Shekane announces candidacy for Board of Education”

  1. Noreen king on April 28th, 2019 1:11 pm

    I am happy to see you running for this position. I know you will be perfect for the job. I wish you all the best.

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Steve Shekane announces candidacy for Board of Education