From Jordan Copeland, 2019 SBNC Chair
March 25, 2019 – As the 2019 School Board Nominating Committee (SBNC) has completed its nomination of Karen Ceske, Carl Finger, and Ron Schulhof for election to the Scarsdale Board of Education, I thank the members of the SBNC for their dedication, thoughtfulness, and diligence in performing this important civic responsibility. I also thank all of the applicants. Scarsdale benefits when so many talented citizens are willing to present themselves to the SBNC each year, as well as from the efforts of an engaged SBNC.
Our community created the SBNC to nominate school board candidates who will work to maintain and enhance the quality of education provided by the Scarsdale schools. This year the SBNC was composed of 27 voting members (elected from each of the five elementary school areas) and three non-voting members. Pursuant to its governing resolution, the SBNC judges and selects candidates “solely on their qualifications to serve the community.”
If elected to the school board on May 21st, 2019, Karen, Carl, and Ron will assume their roles on the School Board for three-year terms effective July 1. The SBNC is grateful to the talented and engaged citizens who were willing to put themselves forward to serve on the Board of Education. All current voting members of SBNC signed the nominating petitions.
The SBNC strongly endorses Karen Ceske, Carl Finger, and Ron Schulhof for election to the School Board. The three candidates will bring different backgrounds and experiences to serve the community, and share a deep commitment to maintaining the excellence of the Scarsdale schools and serving different constituents.
Karen Ceske has been an independent reading and writing tutor for over 18 years, supporting students of all abilities from a range of colleges and high schools. She previously worked as an English and Social Studies teacher at the Academy of Mount Saint Ursula in the Bronx. She holds a BA in History from Cornell University, College of Arts and Sciences, and an MA in the Teaching of English from Columbia University, Teachers College.
Karen and her husband Rob have lived in Scarsdale for over 15 years. They have a daughter in college and a son who is a senior at Scarsdale High School. Karen has served as President of the Scarsdale Council of Parent-Teacher Associations, President of the Scarsdale High School PTA, Chair of the Scarsdale High School PTA Scholarship Fund for College, Secretary of the Scarsdale Middle School PTA, and President of the Greenacres School PTA. She also has served on other community boards including the Friends of the Scarsdale Library, the Scarsdale Adult School, the Scarsdale Student Transfer Education Program (STEP), the Greenacres Neighborhood Association, and the Hitchcock Church Weekday School.
Carl Finger has been an active citizen in village government, serving as Scarsdale Village Deputy Mayor, Scarsdale Village Trustee, Chair of Law Committee, Chair of Finance Committee and Chair of Personnel Committee. Carl was on the Board of Architectural Review and the Conservation Advisory Council. County-wide, he has served on subcommittees of the Environmental Committee of the Westchester County Board of Legislators and the Public Works Committee of the Westchester County Board of Legislators. Through Bet Am Shalom Synagogue, Carl has served on the Vision Committee and the Educational Director Search Committee.
Carl is an alumnus of the Scarsdale Schools who returned more than 20 years ago with his wife Eve. Carl’s two children currently attend Scarsdale High School. An attorney and principal at Finger & Finger, Carl’s practice includes Real Estate, Cooperative/Condominium, Landlord Tenant, Commercial Litigation, Personal Injury Litigation, Workers’ Compensation, and Tax Certiorari. He holds a BA from Brandeis University, a JD from the Boston University School of Law and an LL.M in environmental law from Pace University School of Law. Carl has been a softball and basketball coach, an umpire, and served two years as the local “Good Humor Man.”
Ron Schulhof is a 5 year resident of Scarsdale with a child who attends the Quaker Ridge School and a preschooler. Ron currently performs pro-bono consulting work and is a private investor. Before that, he worked on Bond Trading Desks at Bear Stearns & Co., and FBR Capital Markets and then in Corporate Strategy at Deloitte. Ron holds an MBA from Columbia Business School and a BA in Economics from Lehigh University.
Ron has been an active community volunteer since moving to Scarsdale with his wife Rachel. He is the current Sustainability Chair for the Scarsdale Council of Parent-Teacher Associations (PTC) and for the Quaker Ridge PTA, served on the Butler Field Committee and has been a coach and mentor to SHS interns and students. Ron chairs the Village Conservation Advisory Council and the LED Streetlight Committee. He recently completed a three-year term as a member of the Citizens Nominating Committee. He serves on the Scarsdale Forum Board of Directors and Audit Committee. Ron is also a little league coach.
The School Board Nomination Process
The SBNC nomination process involves several stages. The SBNC initially heard current school board members’ views on the role and structure of the school board, the school board’s relationship to various stakeholders, the roles and responsibilities of board members, and the anticipated challenges and opportunities for the school board during the next three years. SBNC members then sought potential board candidates through public appeals and by recruiting committed community members. Each interested applicant submitted a biographical form and presented orally to the SBNC in the late winter.
Pursuant to rules of procedure, committee members conducted due diligence by confidentially contacting dozens of people outside of SBNC for their input about the candidates’ qualifications to serve the community. In order to get a complete view of the applicant, SBNC members contacted both references provided by the applicant, as well as “off-list” individuals who were known to have had interactions with the applicant, such as serving closely in the same organization. Committee members then reported relevant factual information to the other committee members, who were instructed to keep open minds and listen to one another carefully.
The committee discussed the qualifications of all proposed candidates fully and candidly before taking a vote, and voted by secret ballot to fill each vacancy in turn. This year’s SBNC members devoted in aggregate well over 1,000 hours to their charge. The process was serious and focused, with respect for differing opinions. Discussions and deliberations regarding candidates are confidential in order to encourage people to apply, protect the privacy of candidates and references, allow for candid discussion among SBNC members, and select nominees based solely upon their qualifications.
Scarsdale is fortunate to maintain a nonpartisan election process for the Board of Education that selects candidates based solely on their qualifications to serve, not on their campaigning abilities or positions on specific issues. Informed and engaged residents willing to serve on the SBNC and the School Board, along with voter participation, help to ensure the highest quality school board leadership. Please consider serving or suggesting other school district residents to fill future vacancies. You can do so at any time by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Finally, please remember to vote on the school budget and in the school board election on May 21, 2019 at the Scarsdale Middle School between 7am and 9pm.