Ron Schulhof can be seen in the crowd at most public Scarsdale school meetings. He can’t be missed, taking notes on his iPad and listening intently to the speakers. Now Schulhof, 38, is looking to change seats, from the audience to the decision-making table.
“I would urge residents to come and attend [school board meetings]. You really get a chance to see the thought process that goes into the high level policy, which then translates into what happens operationally at each of the schools,” said Schulhof, who also chairs both the LED Streetlight Committee and the Conservation Advisory Council in the village. “I’ve gotten a real up-close perspective on what it means to be on the school board.”
Because of his previous volunteer experience and his active participation as a parent in the school district, Schulhof said he has been able to expand his working relationships with principals and the PTAs, which have helped him stay informed on all the schools in the district.
“I’ve been able to develop those relationships and that background to understand what’s happening at the schools and have an open communication with somebody if I had a question,” Schulhof said.
Since being nominated by the Scarsdale School Board Nominating Committee, Schulhof has attended a number of school meetings. Whether the meeting was a discussion on wellness at the middle school or a district school board meeting, Schulhof has used the opportunity as a learning experience, further connecting with parents to field their questions and hear their concerns.
“[The meeting] may not relate to me or my children directly, but it gives me an opportunity to hear parents at that school, to hear what they may think about a topic,” said Schulhof. “It also gives me the opportunity to just meet some parents, parents that I’ve maybe emailed with before, but don’t have a face-to-face relationship with, and I think that’s really important.”
Schulhof, a resident of Scarsdale for six years with his wife Rachel and two children, has spent a majority of his time focused on sustainability initiatives in the village and schools. Most notably he helped expand the recycling and lunchroom-composting program to all seven schools in the district, and later to the village as a whole. The program later evolved into a curbside pickup program and is used as a model for other municipalities in Westchester. He has also been the PTC sustainability chair since 2018, and is also the chair of the PTA’s sustainability committee at Quaker Ridge, where one of his children attends school.
Schulhof has also helped teach students in the classroom; he often speaks to students in Scarsdale High School classes about sustainability initiatives and village environmental matters.
“Every time I have a chance to interact with students, whether it’s in elementary, middle or high school, I’m just blown away by their abilities and what they’ve learned in this district,” said Schulhof, who currently works as a private investor and performs pro bono consultation work. “As a parent with young kids in the district, it’s just really great to see.”
If elected, Schulhof said he plans to facilitate discussions about school matters with anyone in the community, whether they are a teacher, parent, student or a taxpaying constituent. Communication for Schulhof is key, and he said he hopes to expand on the success of the communication the school board has already been providing.
“Our teachers are fantastic. We have an administration who is very thoughtful. We also have parents who are very involved, which is a great resource for our school district,” said Schulhof.
A Lehigh University graduate with a B.A. in economics and an M.B.A. from Columbia Business School, Schulhof used his skills and economics background at the Scarsdale Forum, where he served on the board of directors and Audit Committee since 2017. He also completed a three-year term on the Citizens Nominating Committee in 2019.
Since serving on a number of committees in the school and village, Schulhof said he wants to come to the school board without an agenda and with an open mind. Although he admits everyone has his or her own personal views, he believes his primary role is to listen to the community and field their concerns and questions.
While admitting that every institution needs improvement, Schulhof reiterated that he is not running for the school board to address a particular issue or personal concern. Rather, he hopes to listen and hear concerns from the community so that they can be addressed.
“A school board member needs to be open and available, and I think through a lot of my other volunteer work, I’ve done that,” said Schulhof. “Part of a school board member’s role is to be a conduit to the community at large.”
The school board election and school budget vote will take place May 21 at Scarsdale Middle School.