Three incumbents are asking voters to be returned to the Board of Education. They are Denise Kness, Rachelle Nardelli and Donald Pinkowsky.

Here are their answers to three questions posed by Yorktown News.

Denise Kness
 

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Who are you? Provide a brief overview of your background and experience.
Denise Kness, a 26-year Yorktown resident and member of the Lakeland Board of Education since 2014. Previously served as board president from 2017 to 2019.

Why do you want to be a school board trustee?
• Continuing my passion to work together with all stakeholders to make the Lakeland Central School District the best it can be. 
• Contributing, enhancing, and expanding the fine work provided by the current Board of Education.
• Facilitating and promoting the voice of parents and teachers on various topics, such as the many unfunded mandates the state requires and its impact on our school district.
• Passionate about helping our school community transition back to school after the COVID-19 crisis. 
• Committed to welcoming and working with our new superintendent, Dr. Brendan Lyons.  

What is a top priority for the school board as Lakeland Central School District adjusts to academic life during and/or after the coronavirus emergency?

Top priorities for the Lakeland School District in 2020-2021 are:
• Create a smooth transition for our new superintendent;     
• Re-evaluate our needs assessment due to the COVID-19 crisis; 
• Keep high quality educational standards in place during tough economic times;     
• Redefine what safety and security will look like for the future; 
• Continue to be fiscally responsible for all taxpayers. 

Rachelle Nardelli

Who are you? Provide a brief overview of your background and experience.
I have a long history with the Lakeland School District. I grew up in Cortlandt Manor and graduated from Walter Panas High School. I currently live in Yorktown Heights with my husband and three children—my two older children are graduates of Lakeland High School and my youngest will be a senior at Lakeland in September. I also manage a small family business in Connecticut. I have always been passionate about education. I have a master’s degree in elementary education and I taught kindergarten before my children were born. I began volunteering within the district 16 years ago because I wanted to get involved in my children’s educational experience. I have been a PTA president and a member of the Lakeland Education Foundation, and I first became a trustee on the Board of Education in 2014. During my time on the board, I spent two years as vice president and have served on multiple committees. I am most proud of my work with other district stakeholders to develop the Lakeland Vision and Mission Statement.

Why do you want to be a school board trustee?
I have been a member of the Lakeland Board of Education for six years and want to continue to serve the Lakeland community. I am proud that the leadership team in Lakeland is committed to providing a high-quality, well-rounded educational experience for all students in a safe and secure environment. We have educational, social-emotional, and financial challenges to face in the coming months. I believe my experience as a veteran member of the board will be helpful in navigating Lakeland not only through the current pandemic, but also as we continue to strive to provide all students the opportunity for educational success. My knowledge of the values of our district and our community will also be helpful as we welcome new Superintendent Dr. Brendan Lyons. I look forward to working with him to continue to meet the needs of each of our students and to prepare the district for future success.

What is a top priority for the school board as Lakeland Central School District adjusts to academic life during and/or after the coronavirus emergency?
A top priority of the board during the coronavirus pandemic is to continue to provide a quality education to our students and to maintain financial stability during this time of uncertainty. We are aware that a situation may change in a moment’s notice and that we must be prepared. The board must provide the leadership and support our administrators, faculty, and staff need to safely and effectively work with our students and to maintain our buildings and grounds. We have found ourselves in an unpredictable situation and in turn, we are working to do whatever we can to meet the needs of our students, our families, and our community.

Donald Pinkowsky

Who are you? Provide a brief overview of your background and experience.
I have been a resident of Yorktown Heights for 18 years, am married and have two children attending Lakeland schools. I am a U.S. Army veteran, active in the community as a local youth sports coach, employed as a vice president-internal audit manager with an Armonk firm and I have been on the board since October 2019 and serve on the Audit and Budget Committees.

Why do you want to be a school board trustee?
I believe in the importance of ensuring that every child receives a quality education in order to be successful in whatever path they choose to go. I want our parents to feel confident that our district is providing the best education and opportunities for their children. What I have learned since being on the school board is that this school board’s No. 1 priority is making sure the children of Lakeland have everything necessary to succeed.
I am very honored to be part of a school board that is dynamic, diverse and hard-working with each individual having unique skills which contribute to a successful board. Each member respects one another and listens to each other’s viewpoint.

What is a top priority for the school board as Lakeland Central School District adjusts to academic life during and/or after the coronavirus emergency?
The priorities are the safety of students, parents, teachers and staff when they return to school as well as addressing the social-emotional needs of students. Ensuring students are emotionally stable is just as important as their mastery of academic subjects. Learning cannot happen when social-emotional needs are not met.