In the May 17th Board of Education election, there were three candidates, Naomi Schaefer Riley, Richard Buzin, and Samantha Smith. Richard Buzin has served on the school board before and has stepped in to help Blind Brook on multiple accounts since he replaced Tina Steinberg in the summer of 2021 when she relocated out of Rye Brook. Samantha Smith, who grew up in Rye Brook and also has children who attend Blind Brook, was the only candidate in this election with an educational background. Smith entered the campaign with plans to restore community, trust in the school board, and combat an array of ongoing problems in the district. The third candidate, Naomi Schaefer Riley, a journalist and commentator, also has children in the school district.
Richard Buzin and Samantha Smith ended up securing the two open seats in a landslide election result. Both Smith and Buzin received around 900 votes each, while Riley had 297 votes. Despite losing the election, Riley is committed to staying involved with Blind Brook in the future. With Smith and Buzin as the two new Board members, there will be a future of project-based learning and real-life scenarios in the classroom for an immersive experience for all students. Both Smith and Buzin plan to be representatives for a long time at Blind Brook, which is a change from some recent Board members, who left their positions earlier than expected for different reasons. They both profess to be dedicated to our school system and are looking forward to their future in making our school the best it can be.
As incoming Board of Ed members, both Dr. Buzin and Mrs. Smith were interviewed regarding their hopes for the future of BBHS, and potential ways to increase connections between students and board of education members.
Q: As BBHS Students, what should we expect from you as a Board of Ed representative?
Buzin: “While it was quite some time ago that my kids graduated, the trials and tribulations of high school have not changed that greatly, and I have come to appreciate the great preparation the high school gives to our students for the next chapters in their lives. You can expect me to use this perspective as a BOE member to enhance our high schoolers’ experience where they excel, and improve those areas where we may be deficient.”
Smith: “I plan on being involved and attending many school activities/sports/events. I am going to encourage the community to come to the board meetings and to get involved with the district. I believe if we are all involved our community will be stronger.”
Q: What new changes would you like to see happen in BBHS?
Buzin: “I would like to see more offerings for students who may not wish to follow the traditional four-year college career path. Opportunity for students who might want to pursue a trade, or even their own entrepreneurial business, is not currently available. Partnering with BOCES or other school districts to open up those opportunities would be a great advancement in our high school offerings”
Smith: “I think the new hire of the Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum will be a great addition for our district. There is a lot of work being put into the strategic planning and curriculum and I expect a lot of great things moving forward.”
Q: Communication between students and the board has always been something this district has lacked, what ideas do you have to fix this and engage more with students?
Buzin: “Other than specific educational presentations, I have rarely seen any students attend BOE meetings over my ten years on the Board–meetings that are open to all. The Board does send our representatives to Senate and Congress meetings regularly and thoroughly enjoy our time with the students! I urge our high school students to come and participate at BOE meetings!”
Smith: “I think by having a presence at school events the board can increase communication and involvement at all levels. As a parent of a child entering high school next year I plan on participating in as much as I can and I will encourage all board members to do the same.”
Both Buzin and Smith see communication with students as the best way to improve BBHS and create the changes that students want to see at school. The Board of Ed can be contacted through their emails that are posted on the Blind Brook website.