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Bronxville School Foundation Announces New Board Members PDF Print Email


By Kelly M. Dolan, Board Member Bronxville School Foundation

Nov 6, 2019: The Bronxville School Foundation kicks off its 29th year with three new board members as well as a new slate of officers for the upcoming school year. Over the years, the nonprofit organization has given more than $10 million in grants to The Bronxville School to enhance the quality of education by funding new curriculum, technology, faculty training, facilities projects, and special materials and equipment.

Following are biographies of the new board members.

Giovanni Cutaia received a BA from Colgate University and an MBA from the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College.  Gio currently works at Blackstone and is their Global Head of Asset Management for their real estate group.  Gio is a member of Colgate University’s Board of Trustees, Tuck’s MBA Council and a Board of Governor at The Real Estate Board of New York. 

Gio and his wife Maree moved to Bronxville in 2010 after living in London for over eight years. They have two children attending the Bronxville School. 

Mary Gay received a BS degree from the University of Richmond and an MBA from New York University.  Mary works at Arrowhead Investment Management, where she manages a private debt fund that invests in middle market securities.  Mary has been involved with the Bronxville community, since moving to Bronxville in 2007, having served on the RCNS Board, as a Sunday School teacher at Reformed Church and most recently serving as the Bronxville High School Council treasurer.  Mary and her husband, Bill, have two sons that are graduates of Bronxville High School and one son that is currently in the Bronxville Middle School. 

Lia Gravier (ex officio member, president-elect PTA) has lived in Bronxville since 2010. At the Bronxville School she has been a class parent and from 2013-2016 she coordinated the James E. Kearney Memorial Day Run for Fun. This year, she is co-chairing the BOLD Council as well as sitting on the PTA executive council. In addition, she has served on the Board of the Concordia Conservatory and served as the President of the Friends of the Bronxville Public Library. Prior to having children Lia worked in the non-profit world as a publicist and graphic designer. For many years she managed the PR for the Museum of the City of New York and was the Publications Coordinator at the West-Side YMCA. Lia grew up in Rhode Island and received her BA in Philosophy and art history from Saint Anslem College. She and her husband Joe, have three children. A son and daughter who currently attend the Bronxville School and a daughter who graduated in 2018.

Lisa H. Sorensen (BHS, Class of 1980) received a BA from the College of Wooster in Wooster Ohio with a major in Art History. After graduating, she continued her studies at the School of Visual Arts and the International Center of Photography (ICP) in NYC.  She worked as a photo editor at Irena Chalmers Books before starting her photography business, Lisa Sorensen Photography, where she has worked as a portrait and fine art photographer for the past 30 years. She also teaches private photography lessons to high school students. Lisa is the visual merchandiser and co-buyer for The Silk Road in Bronxville. She has served on the board of the Bereavement Center of Westchester and currently serves on the Maxwell Institute Advisory Board. She has served as a Deacon and chairman of the Pastoral and Congregational Care Council at the Reformed Church of Bronxville. She and her husband, Dan Johnson, have served as confirmation mentors to many of the eighth graders at the Bronxville School.

"We are very excited to welcome our new board members to the Foundation. They bring an exceptionally broad array of experience, talent and commitment to our board. We welcome them and look forward to working with them,” said newly elected chairperson Eddie Sulimirski. Formerly co-vice president of the grants committee, Eddie has been elected Chairman of the Board, replacing outgoing Chairman Romy Coquillette. Eddie joined the Foundation board in 2014. In addition to his work on grants, he also served on the finance and alumni committees.

The other directors and officers for 2019-20 are Romy Coquillette, Vice Chairman; Nancy Marshall, VP development; Eileen Casey Marshall, VP grants; Erin Krestinski, VP alumni affairs; Kristen Evans, VP public relations; Kelly M. Dolan, VP nominating; Vincent McBride, VP finance; John Kelty, VP legal; Jane Goodell, secretary; Peggy Benziger Williams, executive director. Returning board members are Lori BeecherBrian BodellRobert Crystal, Won Giuriceo, Joseph Hutchins, Christopher Krieg, Jennifer Lescott, Lansing Martinelli, Priscilla Newman, Robert O’Hare, Jr., David Outcalt, Ian Putnam and Tom Welling. Additional ex officio members include the superintendent of the Bronxville schools, Roy R. Montesano and Michael Finley, School Board representative. 

If you have any questions or would like to learn more about The Bronxville School Foundation, please contact Peggy Williams, executive director, at 395-0515 or any of the board members or visit  Donations also welcome!

Pictured here (L to R): Lisa Sorenson, Giovanni Cutaia and Mary Gay (not shown here: PTA vice president-elect Lia Gravier)

Photo courtesy The Bronxville School Foundation

Editor's note: As a public service, MyhometownBronxville publishes articles from local institutions, officeholders, and individuals. MyhometownBronxville does not fact-check statements therein, and any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect the thinking of its staff.


Bronxville Non-Partisan Committee to Host Annual Open Meeting on November 14 PDF Print Email


By Thomas Hansen, member, Non-Partisan Committee

Nov. 6, 2019:  Bronxville's Committee for Non-Partisan Nomination and Election of School Trustees (NPC), will host its annual Open Meeting on November 14 at 7:00 p.m. in the Yeager Room of the Bronxville Public Library.  All members of the Bronxville community are invited to attend.

The School Superintendent Roy Montesano, President of the School Board Jonathan Akteson, and School Board Member Jack Bierwirth will discuss the top issues facing the school and board and will answer questions from the public.  Anticipated topics include: 

-An update on what's going well and what's not, and the upcoming Bond referendum.

-How does the board and administration decide to make changes to the curriculum?

What recent changes have been made?

-An update on the plans of the new head of security


-What are the board's transparency and feedback goals with the community? 

-How does the board get feedback from the community and share what they are focused on?

The Open Meeting traditionally marks the commencement of the NPC’s 2019-20 search for candidates to serve as Bronxville School Trustees. 

Anyone who is interested in contributing to a discussion of the most important issues facing the school and the qualifications and characteristics of school trustees should plan to attend.

About the NPC

The NPC was formed in 1936 to foster the election of Trustees of the Bronxville School on a non-partisan basis. 

The NPC, which consists of three elected representatives from each of Bronxville's seven election districts, solicits qualified residents who are interested in serving as School Trustee, and nominates a slate of candidates to run in the school district election each May.

To learn more, visit or follow us on Facebook (, Instagram @bronxvillenpc, and Twitter @bronxvillenpc.

Editor's note: As a public service, MyhometownBronxville publishes articles from local institutions, officeholders, and individuals. MyhometownBronxville does not fact-check statements therein, and any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect the thinking of its staff.

Bond Referendum Will Seek $3 Million to Complete Bronxville School Capital Improvement Plan PDF Print Email


By Carol Bartold, Senior Reporter

Oct. 23, 2019: A resolution approved by the Bronxville School Board of Education at their October 17 meeting will send voters to the polls in December for a $3 million bond referendum. The referendum will include projects taken out of the original $21.8 million capital improvement plan approved in March 2018 due to higher than expected bids.

Dan Carlin, Assistant Superintendent for Business, advised that the district is in a favorable position to hold the December referendum to restore those projects. The district expected to sell the bonds to finance the $21.8 million improvement plan at a 3.5 percent interest rate but was able to sell at an interest rate of less than 2 percent. That lower than expected rate results in the ability to issue $3 million in additional bonds, due in 15 years, while preserving tax neutrality.

“The interest rates are in our favor,” Carlin stated. “The ability to borrow and issue these bonds within the next six months takes away a lot of the interest rate risk and allows us to complete our original vision for this plan.”

Projects dropped from the original bond issue include the curtain wall that faces the elementary school playground, the innovation center planned for the former boiler room, a chiller that would provide air conditioning for the first floor A and B Wings, along with work on the gymnasium bulkhead and restoration the school building’s front steps on Pondfield Road.

Superintendent Dr. Roy Montesano noted that the existing elementary school curtain wall is rusting significantly. While the new design would match the overall architecture of the school building, it is also anticipated to improve energy efficiency. That improvement is expected to cost approximately $1.25 million.

Bids for the innovation center have come in at approximately $300,000, lower than the original bid. Montesano pointed out that the new bid includes only general contracting work as the HVAC work needed is already included in the original bond issue approved in 2018. Plumbing and electrical work for the chiller is likewise included in the original bond issue, and installation is estimated at $40,000 to $50,000.

Gymnasium bulkhead renovation, front step restoration, and other minor projects would make up the remainder of the proposed $3 million bond.

“I think it’s important to note that we are not raising this for the first time,” board member Thomas Curran stated. “These are concepts and ideas we had to make some very difficult choices about in light of the pricing we received when we had the bids out.”

The bid process for these projects could begin in mid-January, assuming a positive vote, Montesano said. He added that the district secured New York State Education Department as well as New York State Environmental Quality Act approval for the work."

“This referendum is really to provide a funding source we can go out and bid these projects,” Montesano explained. He emphasized that the proposal still keeps the tax levy neutral on debt service. He expects to send an explanatory letter to the community.

Pictured:  Bronxville Elementary School curtain wall

Photo by A. Wrner

Bronxville High School Senior Earns Prestigious Poetry Award PDF Print Email


Contributed By Michael Ganci, Syntax for The Bronxville School

Bronxville High School senior Jean Klurfeld, a talented young poet, has earned the prestigious Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award for her poem “Zeyde,” which is a tribute to her late grandfather.

Selected by a panel of professional poets, Klurfeld is among 15 winners and 85 commendations to receive the recognition. The competition, which is sponsored by Foyles bookstore and The Poetry Society in the United Kingdom, is the largest youth poetry competition in the world in English. It draws more than 11,000 entries from more than 6,000 poets every year.

Klurfeld said her poem was inspired by a lesson on immigration, language and poetry and how first-, second- and third-generation immigrants deal with the language barrier between them and their parents or grandparents.


Jean Klurfeld , photo courtesy Bronxville Union Free School District

“My grandfather, Robert Klurfeld, came from Israel when he was six, speaking only Yiddish, and when I was his age, I couldn’t understand any of it,” Klurfeld said. “He didn’t have any place to put the remnants of his language, and so much of it was forgotten. When I grew up and investigated my past, I was deeply saddened that I wasn’t able to connect with my own past in the way that I wanted to. My grandfather had died at that point, so I couldn’t talk to him about it. So, I wrote about it, in a poem called ‘Zeyde.’ It’s a tribute to my grandfather that he very much deserved.”

Klurfeld credits her grandmother, Shellie Klurfeld, for greatly contributing to the knowledge she has of her relatives today. In addition, she’s grateful to her for encouraging her love of learning and being the main force behind her learning to read at a young age.

The student recently traveled to London to accept her award. As one of the winners of the competition, Klurfeld will also attend a writing retreat in February for young poets.


Photo at top:  Shutterstock

Editor's note: As a public service, MyhometownBronxville publishes articles from local institutions, officeholders, and individuals. MyhometownBronxville does not fact-check statements therein, and any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect the thinking of its staff.



Bronxville School Update: Grades Five and Nine are Largest in the School; Renovation Projects Under Way PDF Print Email


By Carol Bartold, Senior Reporter

Sep. 25, 2019: “We had a very nice opening. People came back very enthusiastic with a lot of positive energy,” Bronxville School Superintendent Dr. Roy Montesano said about the new 2019-2020 academic year.

Montesano presented elementary school Principal Trisha Murray with a certificate from the New York State Department of Education naming Bronxville Elementary School a Recognition School. Recognition Schools demonstrate high academic achievement and student growth under the New York Every Student Succeeds Act Plan.

In his remarks to the Bronxville Board of Education at its regular meeting on September 19, Montesano reported that the school opened the year with a total of 1,640 students in all three schools, one student shy of the projected total of 1,641. The high school has 557 students enrolled, the middle school 400 students, and the elementary school 683 students. Overall, from the 2018-2019 year, high school enrollment increased by eighteen students and middle school enrollment by fifteen. The elementary school has seven fewer students.

The high enrollment “bubble” that moved through the middle school entered high school this year, making the ninth grade, with 145 students, the largest class in the high school. Grade 5 also has 145 students, necessitating the addition of an extra class section.

Average class size in all three schools compares favorably with that of prior academic years. The average elementary school class size is 20.5 students. In the middle school, core subject sections of English, mathematics, science, and social studies have an average of 21.6 students. Average class size in the high school is 20.2 students, with most classes having 24 students or fewer.

Dan Carlin, assistant superintendent for business, reported that the library is expected to open for student use during the first week of October. Work slowed down, he said, because of items that have long lead times for delivery and completion. Countertops and overhead LED light fixtures are expected to arrive in the next two weeks.

The storm water connection from Meadow Avenue to the flood mitigation pump system on campus is expected to be completed by October 15. Although the contractor started work later than anticipated, Carlin stated that crews have done excellent work, safely, with minimal room to work in.

Per Carlin, work on the Meadow Avenue addition is scheduled to begin in December. That will be preceded by work on the third floor, which will be done on second shift, after school hours. Classrooms impacted by the work will not be taken offline until summer 2020. Work during the current school year will be on outside projects only.

Carlin also reported that the district recently sold $20 million in bonds to finance the large capital plan approved by referendum in March 2018. He noted that the favorable interest rate on the bonds, at less than two percent, will allow the board of education to consider some of the projects that had to be eliminated from the original plan when bids received were higher than anticipated. The low-interest rate gives the district an additional $2.5 million to $2.7 million in flexibility to issue more bonds and still keep the overall capital project tax neutral. Additional bonds could be issued only by referendum.

The Bronxville Board of Education will meet on Thursday, October 17, at 7:00 pm in the school's multipurpose room.

Pictured here:  Tricia Murray, Bronxville School Elementary School principal, and Roy Montesano, Bronxville School superintendent, displaying certificate from New York State Department of Education.

Photo by N. Bower

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