Digital Editor’s Note: The Scarsdale Inquirer received 32 letters in support of the three Scarsdale School Board candidates — SBNC nominees Robert Klein and Amber Yusuf, and challenger Mayra Kirkendall-Rodríguez — for this week’s newspaper. We have decided to run the letters on the website under four headings: Letters dually supporting SBNC candidates Klein, Yusuf (which you are reading now); Letters supporting Robert Klein for school board; Letters supporting Amber Yusuf for school board; and Letters supporting Mayra Kirkendall-Rodríguez for school board.
Klein will be a valuable team player
I write to urge your support for Bob Klein for the Scarsdale Board of Education. Bob and I have worked together closely for the past three years as leaders of a local nonprofit volunteer organization, Neighbors for Refugees. I have found him to be an extremely valuable team member. He brings to any task the ability to work cooperatively, to advocate for his position while giving a fair hearing to opposing ideas. Through his life as a father and grandfather, his decades of experience as a community volunteer and a professional, Bob has both the wisdom and good humor to serve the students, teachers and parents of Scarsdale well.
Klein will bring analytical problem solving to school board
We enthusiastically support Robert Klein for election to the Scarsdale Board of Education. We have known Bob and his family for more than 35 years since we met when our children began elementary school in Greenacres.
Bob’s professional title is architect but his strength is in analyzing problems: listening to his clients to understand their needs, planning and helping them to assess solutions to manage those needs. He approaches problems with an open mind. Bob knows how to work as a team member, building consensus.
Bob Klein’s skills are exactly what we need on our school board as we deal with the unique challenges of the coronavirus pandemic and this community’s commitment to a quality public education system.
NATHAN LITMAN, M.D.
NORMA LITMAN, LCSW
Klein is committed to creating a collaborative, supportive ‘village’
I am writing to strongly endorse my dad Robert Klein as a candidate for Scarsdale Board of Education. My endorsement comes as a 1996 graduate of the Scarsdale school system, an educator and school psychologist, as a father and his son.
Shortly after graduating from Scarsdale High School I read the book, “It Takes a Village.” I had just left Scarsdale and was away at college, reflecting on my time in the Scarsdale community, expanding my worldview, and striving to pave my own path in life. This book for the last 25 years has served as a guidepost for me and resonated in terms of my parents’ own perspective.
As they were starting their family, my parents, an elementary school teacher and an architect, aspired to buy a home in Scarsdale and find their “village.” They were looking for a school system that provided a top-notch education, sports, art and music; but were also looking for a community with shared values that would support them in raising their two young children.
“It Takes a Village” talks about the important lessons in life that come from family, friends and neighbors, as well as the dedicated volunteers and professionals whose passion is to see the “promise of children fulfilled.” Those were the lessons that my coaches like Steve Shelov, Boy Scout Leader Cash Jones, teachers like Fran Slote and Eric Rothschild, and my parents taught me along the way.
In looking for a community to raise my own young family, the gold standard for me has been Scarsdale. I have settled in Maplewood, New Jersey, but have brought with me the values and lessons I learned from my parents, neighbors and the greater Scarsdale community, and in my own life I share a deep commitment to maintaining excellence in my local public schools. In addition to my career as a psychologist, I also give back to my community, similar to the way my father has for his entire adult life. I am currently a class parent for my son’s first grade class, a soccer coach and Scout leader.
Robert Klein, a 36-year resident of Scarsdale, has for decades been a member of the “village.” My father has always lived by the motto of choosing kindness above all else. He is a careful listener, consensus builder, thoughtful neighbor, and is devoted to student success whether those children are his son or daughter, his three grandchildren with whom he is very involved, or the children of the Scarsdale community. I believe that he would be a tremendous asset to the Scarsdale Board of Education.
SHS class of ’96
Professional experience will make Klein a valuable board member
The School Board Nominating Committee, of which I am a member, selected two terrific candidates for next week’s election. It seems everyone is excited about the selection of Amber Yusuf. I wholeheartedly agree. Bob Klein may be less known, but is equally as impressive a candidate and fortunately we can elect both.
Bob Klein’s tireless volunteer work with refugee nonprofits is inspiring. He has devoted virtually all of his retirement hours to these important causes. Bob’s architectural expertise, stemming from decades of work in this industry, will serve the school board and our village well. The board commonly has its share of lawyers, educators and social workers. It should be noted, however, how often school board policy issues revolve around architecture. From Greenacres Elementary School to Butler Field’s reconstruction to recent debates over updating the high school’s auditorium, Klein could add his vast experience and knowledge to the conversation. Bob’s empty nester status, perhaps a reason he is a bit less known in the community, adds balance and perspective to today’s school board configuration. Klein speaks highly of his kids’ experiences and the benefits they received from Scarsdale’s schools and he hopes for the opportunity to pay it forward.
Bob Klein is a fully vetted, hardworking person whom we are fortunate to have an opportunity to elect. Let’s do it by a landslide.
Vote for Amber Yusuf and Bob Klein.
Klein will help maintain excellence of Scarsdale Schools
My wife Barbara and I enthusiastically support the candidacy of Robert Klein for election to the Scarsdale Board of Education. Fortunately, our three children received an excellent education attending the Scarsdale Public Schools. We greatly value the Scarsdale schools’ commitment to excellence in encouraging each student to develop her or his interests and talents.
Having enjoyed a strong friendship and professional association with Bob and his family for over 30 years, we know that Bob has many fine professional skills and important values that will assist the school board in continuing to fulfill its important mission of guiding the operation of our excellent school system.
Bob consistently has demonstrated compassion for others in the community. Bob demonstrates sound judgment and strong analytical skills. Bob is fair and ethical and respects his neighbors and friends. In particular, Bob is a very good and attentive listener. He is always willing to listen and understand different views from his own prior to making decisions. In addition, Bob and his wife Jane, as longtime residents of Scarsdale, are devoted to the local community, believe in civic engagement and are active volunteers.
We wholeheartedly encourage the community to strongly support Bob’s candidacy for election to the school board. He will be a strong advocate to enable the board to continue to be an important community resource.
STEVE and BARBARA KESSLER
NYC (formerly Brite Avenue)
Support for Robert Klein, strong candidate for school board
The residents of the Scarsdale School District are fortunate to have a strong candidate for school board in Robert Klein.
Bob and I went through school together from elementary through high school. He was a strong student academically and engaged in a variety of activities — always giving it his all. While in high school, he participated in a tutoring program in a neighboring town for children who were struggling with their reading. This was not to make his college application look good, but because he is a person who, for his entire life, has offered to serve where needed.
We had the good fortune to reconnect long after high school graduation when we both got involved with working to support refugees in Westchester. I am currently co-chair of Interfaith Council for New Americans, Westchester, and a volunteer with another organization, Neighbors for Refugees, for which Bob also volunteers. Bob is someone who listens intently, thinks through carefully and offers well-reasoned suggestions.
I urge voters to elect Bob, a candidate who has much to contribute as a member of the Scarsdale Board of Education.
Interfaith Council for New Americans in Westchester
Klein’s strategic planning expertise invaluable for BOE
The safe and successful operation of Scarsdale’s school facilities in the post-COVID-19 era will present unprecedented challenges. So it is especially fortunate that longtime Scarsdale resident Bob Klein, a recently retired architect and specialist in strategic facilities planning, is one of the School Board Nominating Committee’s two outstanding candidates for this year’s school board election, which is now scheduled for June 9.
Bob is widely recognized for his expertise in the field of strategic facilities planning. He has many decades of high-level, sophisticated experience as both a skillful practitioner and a respected lecturer in the field. Importantly, he has worked on the planning and design of many prominent educational and public health facilities as well as other public and private large-scale institutional projects. As a result, Bob can bring invaluable knowledge and experience to the school board as it guides our schools to emerge from the coronavirus crisis and meet the demands of operating safely and effectively in the “new normal” period ahead. To be sure, Bob understands and will know how to respect the roles of [School Superintendent] Dr. Thomas Hagerman and the administration in handling day-to-day management, but he can be expected to provide unique insight and perspective on facilities issues while also contributing to the broader range of issues the school board will address in coming years.
Bob, like the SBNC’s other stellar candidate, Amber Yusuf, has superb educational credentials (University of Michigan, North London University), a solid record of important volunteer community work, and, most importantly, a strong reputation for listening to and working extremely well with others. Bob’s experience will complement that of Amber, a U.C. Berkeley MBA with extensive experience in business and technology and a demonstrated and well-known commitment to the betterment of Scarsdale schools though her work in leadership civic positions, including as president of the Scarsdale Parent-Teacher Council and the Heathcote PTA.
I therefore strongly urge all eligible Scarsdale voters to elect Bob Klein and Amber Yusuf to the Scarsdale School Board by mailing in ballots that must be received by 5 p.m. Tuesday, June 9.
ELI R. MATTIOLI
Candidate Klein’s professional skills especially relevant now
As I prepare for the League of Women Voters of Scarsdale School Board candidate forum next week, I expect that one of the more pressing topics might easily be “How will our wonderful school buildings and school campuses respond to the post-COVID period that we are all aggressively planning for?”
When I was approached to submit my application for one of the two open school board seats by a representative of the School Board Nominating Committee (SBNC), I certainly did not think that my professional expertise in strategic facilities planning and architecture would be so timely and relevant to the school district. I have followed throughout the years the development of a long-term facilities master plan and the decisions to renovate or expand current schools, but we are suddenly entering totally new territory in terms of keeping our children, staff and community safe from an invisible “invader” to the world, COVID-19. I have devoted my entire professional career to helping clients define the problem, articulate the scenarios to solve the problem, utilize the best tools available to gather data and study the problem and, most importantly, to facilitate a process that prioritizes criteria and develops consensus.
As a parent of two grown children who went through the Scarsdale school system from kindergarten through 12th grade, both having very different needs and abilities, I am particularly sensitive to making sure that all constituents are part of the solution and equally considered. Understanding that my role as Scarsdale School Board member would not be tactical in the way that the administration’s often is, I am excited to share my insight and knowledge to support shared decision-making.
I am honored to have been nominated by the SBNC along with Amber Yusuf for the two open seats, and hope I can combine my skills in listening, analyzing and solving problems in a teamwork context, as well as providing the technical lens of architecture and strategic facilities planning to serve the community. My experience also includes extensive development and management of complicated budgets, which I believe would support my role as board trustee in reviewing the school district budget every year. Lastly, my work on other boards demonstrates my ability to be a team player and to incorporate my passion for education, the environment and global topics into my volunteerism.
I ask community members for their votes for Amber Yusuf and myself, and for their Yes vote on the proposed budget, when community members mail their ballots to be received by Tuesday, June 9.
Vote for SBNC candidate Robert Klein, a gifted analyst
I am writing to recommend without reservation Bob Klein’s election to the Scarsdale School Board of Education. I was introduced to Bob in 2015 and recruited him to serve on the facilities committee of the Clay Art Center (CAC) in Port Chester. We were all so impressed by his knowledge of facilities and commitment we asked him to join the board of directors a year later.
Bob has an exceptional ability to present a problem clearly and to methodically analyze a problem from both the quantitative as well as qualitative perspective.
A not-for-profit such as the CAC requires balancing mission-driven values as well as fiduciary responsibilities and Bob has demonstrated an exceptional ability to navigate that mandate.
Bob believes in giving back to his community and the school board is a perfect organization to leverage his astute knowledge of facility planning and design as well as his demeanor to be a team player and keep an open mind.
Clay Art Center
‘Hidden gem’ Klein would stand for empty nesters on BOE
I’m writing to express my strong support for the nominees to the school board put forth by the School Board Nominating Committee (SBNC). As a member of that committee, I can attest to the quality of both of the SBNC’s candidates and their eminent suitability for the position. I sense that Amber Yusuf, as a recent member of the board of the League of Women Voters and the Citizens Nominating Committee and former PT Council president — among other equally worthy civic roles — is more familiar to the voters of Scarsdale. Therefore, I want to express my particular enthusiasm for her co-nominee, Robert Klein, who I consider the “hidden” gem of this very talented slate.
Bob is a semi-retired architect with a successful career in pre-design planning. In that role, it was Bob’s primary responsibility to make sure, through thoughtful questions and careful listening, that his clients understood their own needs, even before the drawings started. Bob’s skills and expertise will be invaluable to the district as it faces the inevitable aging of parts of our physical plant and has to make decisions about what, where and how to spend our tax dollars. In addition to his particular training and experience, Bob’s sensitivity, creativity and intelligence will enrich the board and strengthen Scarsdale’s educational team. Unlike candidates who enter this election with strong agendas, Bob has made a whole career of paying attention to the people he serves and helping them to do what is best for themselves.
In addition, Bob is a 36-year resident of Scarsdale and has two grown children who are alumni of our school system. Notwithstanding that his youngest child graduated from SHS nearly 20 years ago, Bob and his wife have committed to remaining in our town. We all know that the school system benefits greatly from people like the Kleins, because their considerable contributions to the school budget redound entirely to the benefit of families with school-age children. Members of this segment of the population are often referred to as “empty nesters,” but I prefer “parentally accomplished.” Our school board benefits from their experience and perspective and does well to heed their concerns. While other candidates may claim to speak for that part of our community, Bob is part of that community, which increases the board’s empathy and insight with regard to this vital group of citizens.
In sum, Bob Klein would be an excellent member of the Scarsdale Board of Education. He believes passionately in the value of education; he has experience that is relevant to the task; he is thoughtful, deliberate and respectful and I am confident that he will be an effective advocate for and servant of all of Scarsdale’s constituencies.
I urge my neighbors to promptly complete and mail your ballots selecting Bob Klein and Amber Yusuf for the school board, and a Yes vote for the school budget.