Letter: Re-elect Carolee Brakewood for proven leadership and results

April 25, 2019 at 7:01 a.m.

I write to strongly endorse Carolee Brakewood for re-election to the Port Chester Board of Education. I have worked alongside Carolee for the time while I was Village Mayor between 2007-2017, and I have witnessed first-hand her outstanding thought leadership, full-time commitment, and drive for results. I firmly believe we need to re-elect Carolee to continue the exceptional progress our schools have made during her nine years on the school board.

In my tenure as Mayor, I spent a lot of time in our schools, attending events and working to coordinate extracurricular programming and sharing services. Carolee was and continues to be ever-present – not just attending to show her face – but there to learn and listen to parents, teachers, and students, and to advocate for them. She has truly dedicated herself to her school board role in a full-time capacity, and as a result she is a highly effective advocate to promote many needed improvements at the local and state levels.

When you look at the recent progress our schools have made, it is really quite impressive. Carolee has championed a long list of improvements, ranging from Universal Pre-K to dual language programs to the International Baccalaureate program. These programs are a draw for young families and are all the more impressive when considering that the school board has consistently passed lean budgets that stay within the NYS Tax Cap.

Carolee has also been a thought leader for needed capital improvements in our schools. She was key in promoting a capital improvement plan and a bond advisory committee. As a result, we are in the midst of an $80 million district-wide capital improvement program for which taxpayers are only paying ~34% of the bill. We need Carolee to remain on the Board of Education to see these important upgrades completed on schedule and within budget. Whether you have kids in school or not, these improvements will ultimately improve our village reputation and property values, as Port Chester is now seen as being on the right track by investing in our schools.

Driving change is never easy, especially in a village like Port Chester. Carolee has been extremely courageous and politely persistent in her efforts to advance the performance of our students and school district to notable levels. Our high school was recently recognized by the College Board as one of only 373 districts in the US and Canada on the “AP District Honor Roll,” and US News & World Report deemed PCHS a “top performing high school,” earning a Silver Medal as #134 in the state. Again, when you consider that Port Chester’s per pupil spending is a mere fraction of neighboring districts’ spending, this is a remarkable accomplishment and testament to spending smart.

I see no reason to change from the great direction our schools are headed in. We cannot afford to lose momentum at this crucial time. Please join me in voting for Carolee Brakewood, a strong and proven leader, for re-election to the Board of Education.

Dennis Pilla

Lafayette Drive

Port Chester

The author was elected to four terms as Port Chester’s mayor between 2007-2017.


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