Letter: Brakewood: Passionate about educating P.C.’s students
May 9, 2019 at 9:01 a.m.
Many residents of Port Chester haven’t been born here, but they make invaluable contributions to this village they call home. Carolee Brakewood is among the best of them.
Before I met Carolee in 2017 while working to pass our construction bond, I knew her name from her responses to people’s questions on Facebook. While participating in PTA activities, I would see her in our schools teaching music though the Port Chester Council for the Arts. She is the most active and engaged school board member we have had since my children started attending school.
I accompanied Carolee and a group of village residents to Albany in March to push for more funding. It was eye opening. Our elected officials know Carolee by name. They call her on the phone to discuss the issues our schools face. They understand that Carolee knows what she is talking about. Relationships like these are not cultivated overnight. Carolee has worked tirelessly to bring millions of dollars in state aid to Port Chester schools. The fat in our budgets was stripped long ago. Carolee knows that putting pressure on state officials to fund our district fairly is the best way to ensure we can continue to add to our programs, not cut them.
Enrollment in PC schools has increased by 850+ students in the last 10 years; 20 new students have arrived since April. Carolee’s purpose is to give every child a chance to succeed, no matter his or her background. Almost 75% of our budget goes to teachers’ salaries and benefits. Teachers should be our biggest expense and we are fortunate to have so many committed ones, but that leaves less than 26% for everything else—textbooks, sports, music, transportation, BOCES services and training for those students interested in learning a trade. It is a tall order, but Carolee does this while delivering school budgets that stay under the NY State tax cap. The homeowners’ portion of this year’s tax rate increase is 1.79%.
Carolee doesn’t make promises she can’t keep, but she is passionate about giving the best possible education for our students. She wants to give teachers and students the most resources she can so that they succeed. We are seeing terrific results—the Regents passing rates for PCHS students are 99% for Algebra II, 95% for Earth Science, 92% for Chemistry. In addition, 40% of our high school students take an AP or IB course.
We have much to be proud of. I want to see this marvelous work continue, so on May 21, I will be voting for Carolee Brakewood for Port Chester school board. I ask you to do the same for the students of Port Chester.