OUR VIEW: James O’Toole is Best Choice for New Rochelle Board of Education

Written By: Robert Cox

NEW ROCHELLE, NY — ew Rochelle voters should elect James O’Toole to the Board of Education on Tuesday.

O’Toole will be a breath of fresh air on a school board that has for many years drawn from the same pool of candidates — primarily politically-connected Democrats (8 of the 9 current members), often people with little or no prior history in New Rochelle.

If elected, James O’Toole would be the only member of the school board who grew up in New Rochelle and went to our public schools. This is a perspective that has long been missing on our school board and needs be there to provide context for decision-making.

O’Toole will hold the line on higher taxes while making sure the district does not scrimp on vital health and safety issues in our schools.

Voters may cast two votes for among the four candidates. For those voters who would like to see James O’Toole win a seat on the school board, they should realize that by voting for James and then casting a second vote for one of his opponents, they are voting against James while voting for him, nullifying their your own vote in the process. Those second votes will all be added to the total of then other candidates who might then narrowly defeat O’Toole.

We recommend that voters not only vote for James O’Toole but ONLY for James O’Toole, what is known as “bullet voting” to increase the likelihood that O’Toole will garner enough votes to finish in the top two and earn a seat on the school board.

O’Toole is the only school board candidate who opposed the school bond in December but supports the bond proposed on Tuesday. His principled position on the bond is a prime example of why you should vote for him on Tuesday.

As a leader of ReformFirst.org, O’Toole worked hard to defeat a poorly conceived school bond. Had that bond passed, the district would have been left tens of millions dollars short of required repairs to health and safety problems in the school, fixes that, once identified are required by law to be addressed. Even Dr. Osborne and O’Toole’s opponents in this race now admit the district is better off with the December bond having failed. 

You can thank O’Toole for that sort of leadership — making the tough calls to stand for what’s right not just going along to get along.

O’Toole supports the current school bond and the school budget. He knows better than most that our schools are badly in need to repair of the sort that needs to funded by the proposed school bond (through which the district is reimbursed about 48% of total approved spending) and the increase in capital maintenance spending contained in the current budget.

O’Toole does not believe we should reward those who failed our children, our teachers and staff and taxpayers. Wherever possible he supports clawing back money that was wasted through fraud and abuse. He knows, however, that you do not punish the children and parents and teachers and staff for the mistakes of the school board and administration leadership, especially since some of those people are already gone and others are on the way out.

O’Toole is the only candidate running on a platform that addresses one of the most divisive issue in our school district — out-of-district busing. O’Toole opposing any cuts to out-of-district busing and goes so far as to support increasing busing to include all elementary school students attending our public schools regardless of arbitrary mileage restrictions.  Universal elementary school busing will go a long way to ending busing as a divisive issue but has many other benefits: taking hundreds of cars off the road each morning and afternoon as parents no longer need to drop-off and pick up their children, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, reducing traffic especially the area immediately around schools, and reducing stress on already busy parents. More importantly it eliminates the divisiveness over busing, not by taking it away from the few but giving it to the many.

O’Toole has a clear sense of the role of a school board: financial oversight, setting school policy and hiring the best people available and letting them run the day-to-day operations of the district. At the same, he knows there are times when a board member has to speak out — a threat to the health and safety of children and financial irregularities — something he has done as a candidate and will do if voters elect him on Tuesday.

Bullet vote O’Toole for real change, real leadership.