Four of six Warwick Valley School Board candidates answer ‘Green Screen’ questions

Warwick. Luis Abramson, John Garcia, Bob How and Dory Masefield responded to Sustainable Warwick’s election information request; Angel Maysonet and Adrienne Tveter ‘respectfully declined’ the invitation.

| 01 May 2023 | 01:22

For the past four years, Sustainable Warwick has conducted “Green Screen” interviews with candidates for local office — Town Board, Village Board and School Board.

The idea is to pose important questions on sustainability-related issues to the candidates and provide a channel for each one to let their thoughts be known to the voters.

In this years’ school board race, there were six announced candidates. The responses of four of those candidates are presented below.

Two candidates, however, Angel Maysonet and Adrienne Tveter, emailed, saying that they “respectfully declined” the invitation.

The election will be on Tuesday, May 16, and all residents of the Warwick Valley District are encouraged to get out and vote.

Question 1: What sustainability actions has the district taken that you feel are especially important, and what other actions would you favor for making the district more sustainable, such as pollinator pathways, a “greener” bus fleet, or something else?

Question 2: Today’s headlines are full of natural disasters — including floods, tornadoes, forest fires, and droughts — that have been linked to man-made climate change. Would you support education about the dangers of man-made climate change and the actions that individuals, communities and governments can take to reduce the threat?

Question 3: A School District’s reputation and public approval is linked with its “sustainability,” especially when annual budget votes are involved. The Warwick schools are consistently ranked among the best in Orange County. Do you agree with that assessment? Are there any significant changes (as opposed to “Keep up the good work”) you feel the Board should be encouraging?

The candidates appear in alphabetical order. Here are their responses:

Luis Abramson

Luis Abramson, a retired NYPD Officer with an Architectural degree, founded CHJI Support Services Inc. after his 2020 cancer diagnosis. A 15-year Warwick resident, married for 23 years with two children. One graduated in 2021 and a third grader with Autism in special education.

Question 1: The board has achieved great success with the installation of the solar panels and a waste digestor. Pollinator pathways are a good idea to help our insect and bird populations. I have been researching an alternative to electric school buses and believe that bio waste which converts into propane is a good option to consider. This can be used by the existing fleet as a clean alternative to going electric. I have consulted several experts on this and am in favor of considering this as an option.

Question 2: I support environmental science and the goal of reaching net zero in pollution by 2050. Warwick has always been a leader in sustainability with preserving agricultural land, removing the use of plastic bags from the area and others and our school district has reflected this. I am interested in developing the use of social stories to help students understand the importance of climate change.

Question 3: I believe that health should be one of the top priorities for the schools. We should encourage healthy eating and teach more about the impact of the greenhouse gases, caused by raising cattle, on the environment. Healthy eating options should always be available, and the students could start to learn about the impact that some farming techniques can have on the environment.

John Garcia

I have lived in Warwick for 67 years and been on the School Board for six of those years. My family business is the oldest business in Warwick - Miller Monument Works.

Question 1: I am proud of our achievements in the area of sustainability. All four schools are Green Ribbon schools, we monitor all the thermostats and have a digital dashboard on the solar field so all everyone can see the benefits of solar energy. We have moved a third our school buses from diesel to propane and we monitor all the discussions about going electric, with all the challenges this can present.

Warwick has led the way in recycling and we aim to make the students critical thinkers. I have been involved in the school system for over 30 years and I am proud of all our achievements.

Question 2: Definitely need to educate our students about climate change. We have a Portrait of a Graduate program to give students the tools they need to face the future. We encourage collaboration, the goal is to work together and be open to change.

Question 3: Warwick is at or near the top in every chart of top schools in the Hudson Valley. The top graduating school out of 43 Mid-Hudson schools, near the top in every subject rating with broad access to AP courses. We aim to support our teachers to help the students. We provide many after school activities to encourage the students’ development beyond the academic areas and their skills in working together.

Bob Howe

I have lived in Warwick for 42 years and been on School Board for 30. I own a business in Pine Island and make Solar Sunrooms. I am active with Warwick Community Center and serve on Coalition for Teenage Prevention of Drugs and Alcohol.

Question 1: The creation of the Solar Field is one of the most significant actions we have taken. We now have 10 acres of Solar panels which provides for all our electricity costs. We bring in energy consultants every year to review our energy efficiency and as a result of their advice many changes have been implemented, including a whole wall of single pane windows which have been replaced, our lighting has been improved and heat pumps have been installed.

In addition, we have the only agricultural program in Orange County and an active environmental club as well.

Question 2: Yes, our environmental science classes cover this area and we have been nominated as Green Schools in recognition of our efforts in this area. Both the student body and faculty are very active in this area.

Question 3: We are proud of our reputation as a leading school district, thanks to the leadership of Dr. Leach. We are in excellent shape academically, financially and from the point of view of sustainability. School Boards come from Westchester and Long Island to learn from us. We work closely with local colleges to give our students the opportunity to take engineering and other AP courses so when some of them graduate they have equivalent of 1 ½ years of college which is a big money saver for the parents

Dory Masefield

I am a middle school science teacher, with a B.A. in Biology and an M.S. in Environmental Chemistry and extensive work experience in environmental research. I have lived in Warwick for 21 years, and have been on the School Board for nin years.

Question 1: We are very proud of the Solar Farm, the largest school operated solar farm in New York State, and I was part of the board that created this. We also share all the data from this with our students to help them see the benefits of solar energy. All four School Districts have won Green Ribbon Awards for their efforts to reduce their environmental impact and improve environmental education. We have remote access to energy use in all classrooms which means the temperature can be better controlled, saving money as well.

I think pollinator pathways would be a great use for fields that might otherwise just be mowed. Students can see the benefits of encouraging insects and native plantings.

Question 2: As a Science and Environmental Science teacher I am absolutely in favor of teaching young people about the environment so they can understand what is happening with the climate today and how they might be able to help improve this.

This outreach has to work for both teachers and students and the schools have teamed up with the Children’s Environmental Literacy Foundation to help teachers incorporate climate awareness into their curriculums and provide the necessary teaching aids for this. Students need to understand the science behind what is happening in our world so they can take steps to solve some of the challenges.

Question 3: WVSD has done great work in this area, and this is an ongoing process. New challenges and opportunities for sustainability come up every year and we need to be open to addressing them. Students should be encouraged to engage in civil discourse about their views on scientific developments and climate change today.