20 Questions With New Rochelle School Board Candidate Matt Hirschman

Written By: Robert Cox

Campaign Website

  1. Would you support a more involved public process to review and discuss the annual audited financials, perhaps incorporating a review of actual spending into projected spending? Explain.

I believe that we have to trust the professionals hired to construct a budget that soundly allocates the necessary funds appropriately. We also have an obligation to present and share information in a way that the public can not just see, but understand. Not everyone is an accountant or actuary. The information and language should be understandable, transparent and accurate.

  1. Would you support hiring an in-house legal staff to handle routine matters to reduce District legal expenses? Explain.

I am open to that option. Having a firm does allow for more resources, but there are simple legal tasks that can be handled more cost effectively if we had some in-house legal at our disposal.

  1. What are the skills and experiences you will bring to the school board, if elected?

I was the board president for my Co-op. I hope to bring a fresh level headed perspective to the board. I’m not afraid to ask questions. Questions when I do not know the answer, and questions that others would be too intimidated to ask.

  1. Under Dr. Feijóo, since January, the District has refused to fill Freedom of Information requests and, since March, disallowed public comments at regular school board meetings. What is your position on the Board’s role in enforcing transparency?

There must be something that they are hiding. The mountainous piles of problems only grow when they aren’t addressed and public information is held hostage by bureaucrats. What could they be hiding?

  1. What do you see is the first immediate priority of the school board? Looking out to the end of what would be your term in office, list three outcomes not currently under consideration by the board, that you would like to see accomplished by 2025.

Hiring of a NRHS Principal. Hiring a new Superintendent. Installation of cameras viewing 99% of indoor and outdoor School District property. Universal Pre-K in all elementary schools and funding of local nursery schools if elementary schools cannot provide them. While Amy Moselhi balked, and other board members could not deliver, I will demand a full review of the SRO program.

  1. Do you support retaining or removing Superintendent Dr. Laura Feijóo?

Dr. Feijoo has over there years left on her contact and it is not likely that she will willingly step down. On the other hand, I am not in favor of buying her out and throwing good money away. This is where it complicates things. In a ideal world I would like to see more competent leadership.

  1. There has been significant “Black Flight” from the New Rochelle public schools since 2010, with about 650 Black students now “missing”, how would you propose the Board address Black Flight?

Restoring dignity and focusing on excellence and accepting that not every policy has to stroke a perceived narrative. We need to make sure that all of our students are getting all the resources possible.

  1. Would you support commissioning a study to evaluate the feasibility of Universal Pre-K to 5 busing?

I’m extremely supportive of Universal Pre-K but we need to see if we can afford to do so.

  1. There was a great deal of controversy earlier this school year regarding former head football Coach Lou DeRienzo. What are your thoughts on the matter?

While the end of the public story saw a state championship, it divided the community and turned it on its head. Dr. Feijoo and Amy Mosehli demonstrated a disregard for what they allowed to spiral out of control and turn New Rochelle High School into a national headline.

  1. The District recently announced the hiring of Adofo Muhammad as the new NRHS Principal who then subsequently withdrew. What are your thoughts on that situation?

This is one of the most abysmal failures in New Rochelle city school district history. I’m sorry that Mr Muhammad’s story book return to New Rochelle wasn’t meant to be but the BOE handled this horrible from the very beginning. Some very important questions should have been asked BEFORE they offered Mr. Muhammad a contract and I’m sad that this had to be played out in public.

  1. The District plans on moving the Alternative High School from St Gabriel’s Church to Bethesda Baptist Church of New Rochelle. What are your thoughts on that?

That needs to be thoroughly investigated. Is this move in the best interest of the alternative high school, or is in the best interest of trying to mend a relationship with Feijoo and some of her biggest critics? We need a facility that suits all of the needs of our students and faculty.

  1. The COVID-19 pandemic has raised many issues but two of the prominent for the District are Food Distribution and Distance Learning. Address those two points specifically and your thoughts on the District’s pandemic response generally.

This is a tough question. Primarily because the response is still ongoing. I do reward the efforts of the students, teachers and parents. I’ve been unimpressed with the decision making and excessive communication that amounts to nothing from the superintendent and board president.

  1. The demands on school board members have increased exponentially over the past decade. Is this a concern for you and, if so, how would you address it? Would you support shorter terms, shorter board meetings, less “required” non-boarding meeting activities, annual stipends?

I think there’s a case to be made for shortening terms to three years instead of five. What I thoroughly reject however is the free rein that board members seem to have in our schools. I am eager and enthusiastic about attending concerts, award ceremonies, sporting events and academic competitions. I do not feel that my place is within the buildings between 8 and 3 daily. I do not support annual stipends. This is a volunteer job.

  1. Since the law changed from appointed to elected school board members, over 90% of school board members have resided within North End elementary school districts. What are your thoughts on this?

I’ve spent the majority of my life in New Rochelle on the Southside. I hope to break that trend. Objectively speaking a persons address should not blur their visions or opinions.

  1. COVID-19 is scary, and with good reason, but many people have learned quite a bit about their own minor weaknesses or idiosyncrasies during the crisis. What is something the pandemic caused you to realize about yourself that in hindsight you took for granted and have now changed? (try to have a little “fun” with this question)

Covid-19 is indeed very scary. One thing that I’ve taken for granted and hopefully changed is my level of being annoying to my wife. I’ve done more of the housework and I can honestly say I’d rather be at work doing construction!

  1. To what degree have you been involved with the New Rochelle School District over the past 10 years? Prior to 2019-20, how often have you attended New Rochelle Board of Education meetings?

I’ve followed the issues and engaged in discussions. I’ve watched many meetings online. I’m obviously trying to become more involved.

  1. What are your thoughts on Apex Grade Inflation Investigations?

Even with what was brought to light, the district continues to cover up what has been discovered. There was a scapegoat, but I don’t think she was the mastermind. I can only hope that the higher authorities take action, as I am aware that they are involved or at least enlightened.

  1. Do you think Board Members should be allowed to take jobs with the District or its’ vendors upon leaving the school board?

I do not believe that they should. We need to make sure that nepotism doesn’t have a role in our school board.

  1. If you win a seat, you will be responsible for spending about $1.5 billion dollars of other people’s money over the next 5 years. What is your level of financial literacy and how does it apply to this responsibility?

I’m not an accountant but I was President of my Co-Op Board in Norwalk Connecticut. In this capacity I did oversee the financials for over 160 units. I’m not afraid to ask questions and ask for help from people that are more knowledgeable than me.

  1. The board operates under a “strategic road map”. Identify three elements of the strategic road map that you feel the board got right (and why). Identify up to three (if any) elements that you would change or drop altogether (and why)?

The strategic road map has many things right on paper. The key is to putting what’s on paper into reality. Safe and supportive schools, student learning, and resource management are three that stand out for me as being important in the success of our students. The road map is stressing elements that seem to overly magnify a set of concerns, while neglecting others. It reads like a politically correct policy that has done more to divide rather than improve.

BONUS QUESTION: Anything else you feel voters should know about you when they go to the polls on June 9th?

I’m your average Mom and Pop candidate that is not being backed by any politicians or special interest groups. I feel that politics has no place in our schools. I’ve lived in New Rochelle most of my life and have attended Trinity, Isaac Young, BOCES, and New Rochelle High School. I’ve worked in this city as a lifeguard at Hudson Park and the city pools. I’ve also been a bus driver for the school district here in New Rochelle. I love my town and want the best for our students and residents.


Will you vote for the budget?


Do you have anything to say about the mail-in ballot distribution snafu?

They need to push back the election at least a week because I believe this is voter suppression and it might be intentional.

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