May 12, 2021
Dear Bronxville Voters,
My name is Susan Conniff and I’d be grateful to represent you on the Bronxville Board of Education. My interest in the school board didn’t start with this election but grew out of a long-term commitment to staying tuned to the board and serving the community.
I moved with my family to Bronxville village in 2013, where I live with my husband, Chris, and our two high-school age daughters. Before deciding to move to the village, I attended Bronxville School board meetings and was impressed with the district’s governance and fiscal stewardship. I have continued to attend the board’s annual budget workshops and have developed a long-term appreciation for the issues that are critical to the district’s stability and excellence.
I have stayed engaged in the community and have experienced the full spectrum of the Bronxville Promise, from my younger daughter’s start in the elementary school through my older daughter’s experience as a senior this year. My daughters have been active participants in the school’s athletic and arts programs, and many of the other rich extracurricular offerings of the Bronxville School, including the school’s college guidance program. I have served as PTA Treasurer, PTA rep to the District Safety Committee, Community Fund Treasurer and Secretary, Reformed Church Nursery School Treasurer, Chapel School PTO Treasurer and Golf Outing Chair, Bronxville Derby Secretary and Treasurer of Random Farms Kids’ Theater.
Professionally, I began my career as a CPA, then an investment banker for JP Morgan and later as VP for Finance at Loyola School in Manhattan where I worked closely with their Finance Committee and Board of Trustees. Following Loyola, I served as a Board member and Finance Committee chair for Xavier High School in Manhattan while consulting for other private schools and presenting at a conference on secondary school governance at the University of San Francisco. I am currently VP for Finance and Operations for a nonprofit focused on improving college access for first-generation, Pell-eligible students.
Raised in Massachusetts, I attended public schools before receiving a BS in Accounting from from the University of Virginia, followed by an MBA from the Anderson School of Management at UCLA and an MA in Journalism from Columbia University.
I’ve seen a long arc of issues during the time I have followed the board, and believe the following areas are critical to the continued excellence of the district:
Hiring and retaining great people – I participated in the process that brought us superintendent Dr. Roy Montesano, and I believes his leadership this the past year shown us just how fortunate we are – keeping the school open, safely and reasonably. There have been several new hires across all the schools and my daughters have had many excellent new and tenured teachers. I appreciate that Dr. Rachel Kelly has overseen the district’s outstanding special education program since its inception. The district is currently hiring a new elementary school principal – so the need to focus on hiring and retention is ongoing. We must never lose focus on what makes a school great – its people.
Strong financial stewardship – State aid and state pension obligations will continue to be unpredictable, and the board will have to pay close attention to how federal aid trickles down through the state bureaucracy. I’ve appreciated seeing the school budget managed conservatively, allowing for some utilization of prior year surpluses to manage year over year volatility. Enrollment trends suggest that there may be opportunities for greater efficiency on the cost side without sacrificing quality in the classroom.
Continuous improvement in curriculum – Our district is fortunate to have a dedicated senior administrator, Dr. Mara Koetke, who is focused on the quality and continuity of curriculum. Our school’s leaders are the curriculum experts, but of course families should always feel that their ideas and feedback are heard. Our district has demonstrated a desire for continuous improvement, whether it be clearer pathways in the math curriculum or collaboration with Columbia Teachers College to improve our writing programs.
Encouraging civil discourse and dialogue on important issues like equity and inclusion – This is not “trendy” or new to Bronxville: the Bronxville Promise calls on students to “engage the world – as a citizen, becoming informed and acting to make impact in small and large ways.” Alumni student surveys have revealed that our graduates would welcome more exposure to and dialogue about conversations taking place in the world beyond their smaller community. This is an area where we can and should be responsive to what students are telling us they need to feel prepared for life after Bronxville.
Encouraging increased community engagement and input on important issues before the board – Board meetings have always been open to community members and students during public sessions, but I’ve observed that attendance has been sparse. I support all efforts to increase community engagement, whether through technology, improvements to communications or the addition of a student representative to the board.
I am grateful for the endorsement of the Bronxville Non-Partisan Committee and appreciate their rigorous process of community input, interviews, and reference-checking. There are two vacancies on the board, so in addition to me, the NPC has endorsed Miki Kapoor. Miki is an engaged citizen, accomplished health care technology executive and a Fulbright scholar, and I hope you will vote for him as well.
Thank you for taking the time to get to know me and all the candidates, and please remember to vote on May 18th.
Editor's note: MyhometownBronxville does not fact-check statements in letters to the editor, and the opinions do not necessarily reflect the thinking of its staff. Its objective in publishing letters to the editor is to give air to diverse thoughts and opinions of residents in the community.
Bronxville is a quaint village (one square mile) located just 16 miles north of midtown Manhattan (roughly 30 minutes on the train) and has a population of approximately 6,500. It is known as a premier community with an excellent public school (K-12) and easy access to Manhattan. Bronxville offers many amenities including an attractive business district, a hospital (Lawrence Hospital), public paddle and tennis courts, fine dining at local restaurants, two private country clubs and a community library.
While the earliest settlers of Bronxville date back to the first half of the 18th century, the history of the modern suburb of Bronxville began in 1890 when William Van Duzer Lawrence purchased a farm and commissioned the architect, William A. Bates, to design a planned community of houses for well-known artists and professionals that became a thriving art colony. This community, now called Lawrence Park, is listed on the National register of Historic Places and many of the homes still have artists’ studios. A neighborhood association within Lawrence Park called “The Hilltop Association” keeps this heritage alive with art shows and other events for neighbors.
Bronxville offers many charming neighborhoods as well as a variety of living options for residents including single family homes, town houses, cooperatives and condominiums. One of the chief benefits of living in “the village” is that your children can attend the Bronxville School.
The Bronxville postal zone (10708, known as “Bronxville PO”) includes the village of Bronxville as well as the Chester Heights section of Eastchester, parts of Tuckahoe and the Lawrence Park West, Cedar Knolls, Armour Villa and Longvale sections of Yonkers. Many of these areas have their own distinct character. For instance, the Armour Villa section has many historic homes and even has its own newsletter called “The Villa Voice” which reports on neighborhood news.
Village of Bronxville Administrative Offices
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