1. Why are you running and what qualifies you to
be a school board trustee?
There are three reasons for me to run for the school board
(1). I made a personal mandate of dedicating my retirement
career to education after having had two satisfying careers.
(2). Offering my over 30 years of experience as a research
scientist and professor to assist the school district in dealing
with the crux of the matter, that is, how to inspire our children
to pursue academic excellence.
(3). I have lived in Somers for 18 years and still have 4
children in Somers schools. I want the Somers schools to
maintain and improve its quality for all of Somers children.
I volunteer for schools and Somers PTA organization. I work with
libraries to offer workshops on creative educational games for
children. I work with Town parks to offer fun games as after
school program. I produce public TV shows for children
interested in developing word and math skills. I serve on the
policy board of Northern Westchester and Putnam Teacher Center
helping teacher development. I think serving the school board is
a significant contribution to our community. It is a challenging
but very satisfying endeavor.
With the above activities and having an open mind, a long time
experience in dealing with academics and students; being a fast
learner and a creative thinker; a conservative in fiscal matter
and a liberal in educational initiatives and having a family of
4 school children, I think I am qualified and capable of serving
our school board.
2. What do you see as the top three challenges facing your
(1). Safe and enticing environment for learning: Our schools
should be free of alcohol, drug and violence. We must focus on
roots of the problems, develop preventive measures, and
implement incentives so that problems will be avoided rather
than merely contained and remedied. (Virginia Tech is a vivid
example, finding messaging technology is a remedial measure, a
little too late for the victims; it is not a solution dealing
with the root of the problem. We need to prevent violence and
get to its roots, why children are not directing their attention
and energy to learning)
(2). Continuous improvement of the quality of our school’s
teaching faculty: We have to provide more freedom and free time
for teachers to take on initiatives to stimulate students to
develop good learning habit and to cultivate their desire for
achieving academic excellence, to introduce technology into
curriculum so students will be better prepared for the future
and to raise the level of literacy so they will have a solid
foundation to build a good career. We must realize that good
working environment and job satisfaction induce good teachers to
join our school system and stay.
(3). Managing growth prudently: We must anticipate the growth of
Somers community and our student population and perform rigorous
long-term planning beyond yearly school budget. We must secure
steady state funding consistent with validated long-term
Education is an important issue for local communities and it is
a long-term affair. We need to view education in a broader
perspective along with other issues such as population growth,
town planning, tax roll, general economy, etc. We need to be
creative in finding and using resources and prudent in cutting
waste and reducing cost at the same time.
3. With respect to school finances, are there any specific
initiatives you would pursue to save money or reduce costs?
I keep an open mind towards school budget, on the one hand, I am
retired I understand the views of our retirement community; on
the other hand, I have 4 young school children and I understand
many parents’ views and wishes. I am fiscally conservative but
liberal in education. I believe in establishing a common goal –
Effectively do the best for our children. This goal should be shared by all our
community constituents. We can not afford to short change the
future of our children. When our children do not have a good
future, we all don’t have a future at all. I think the most
effective way of finding cost reduction is to conduct a broad
survey on potential reductions and cost-saving initiatives from
all constituents in the school district. Validate and prioritize
them and then execute them effectively.
4. What changes would you make on the academic front?
I think the schools should
1. focus on causes and roots of the learning issue: how to
better motivate our children to learn and how to better
stimulate their minds into study rather than wasteful and
destructive activities. Our benchmark should be those schools
and children who excel better than schools and children with
more resources and living a more affluent environment.
2. improve children’s learning environment: Closely integrate
and coordinate school, family and public (library and town)
learning environments and learning activities in recognition of
the social changes in families and communities as well as the
availability of advanced but inexpensive technologies for
3. seek out community majority’s views in formulating school
academic programs and extra-curriculum activities.
In addition to fulfilling mandates by state law, the school
board must bear in mind it is serving the local community. It
should value the community’s views, whether conservative or
liberal, far higher than ‘politically correct’ views from
outside activists. The school board must be able to define what
is correct for our schools according to its community
Supplemental Teaching Material Prepared for SIS 4th Grade
Teaching Web Site for Northern Westchester Chinese Language
Ifay Chang's Work
at TLC Information Services and Its Public Web Sites
Public Forum Related to School Board