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You are here: Home Schools School Board Candidate Alison Singer Brings a Wealth of Experience to the Table
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School Board Candidate Alison Singer Brings a Wealth of Experience to the Table

AlisonScarsdaleWhen the School Board Nominating Committee (SBNC) announced that they had identified two outstanding candidates, it turns out they were not exaggerating. I had the chance to meet one of those candidates, Alison Singer, this week and I can see why she won the support of the SBNC and appears eminently qualified to serve.

Singer is a graduate of Yale University and Harvard Business School. After college she worked as a television producer, starting out with an affiliate in Norfolk, VA and moving to New York to be a producer at CNBC and Vice President of NBC Cable.

Singer is the parent of two girls – with very different needs –who attended the Scarsdale Schools, and has an impressive resume of professional and volunteer positions involving education. She serves on local, state and federal committees that work similarly to the Board of Education where she has learned to listen to constituencies, consider their views, build consensus and develop policies based on the input.

Her activism is rooted in personal experience. While on maternity leave after the birth of her second child, she learned that her first child had been diagnosed with autism, driving her involvement in a wide variety of initiatives on autism, people with disabilities and special education ever since. Today her two girls are both out of the house. The older one lives at the Center for Discovery in Monticello where she works with farm animals, and the younger one is a freshman at Yale where she does cognitive research. Singer joked, “It’s every Jewish mother’s dream; one daughter works with rats and one works with pigs.”

Singer, is the President of the Autism Science Foundation, a group that raises funds for autism research and awards $500,000 in grants each year. For 11 years she has served on the National Institutes of Health Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee, (IACC) a group appointed by the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services to develop and recommend policy to the administration to improve coordination among all federal agencies involved with autism, including the Department of Education, NIH, CDC, and FDA.

Discussing how her experience on the IACC relates to a position on the Scarsdale Board of Education Singer said, “At the IACC, we actively seek public comment; I believe it's very important to listen to all parties and incorporate new ideas into decision-making. I think public comment should come at the beginning of board meetings so that the views expressed can be discussed and acted upon as soon as possible, where appropriate. Oftentimes, the comments at the IACC become aggressive, angry and downright rude. I have certainly been the target of personal attacks for positions I've taken on the IACC. I try to always remind myself that even the angriest speakers are coming from a place of love and fear; love for their children, and fear that a committee might make a decision that could somehow harm them. This has always helped me be more receptive to public comment, even when it takes the form of a personal attack.”

Singer has been a Quaker Ridge resident since 1999 and says she is “grateful to live here.” She has visited many school districts in her work and says, “Scarsdale is well ahead of the average. Our special education program is really superior and the Board of Education committee on Special Education makes every effort to give each child what they need.”

She believes that mental health, wellness and safety are some of the biggest issues facing the district today. When she discusses safety she means more than measures like constructing security vestibules or hiring guards. In her view the district’s safety initiatives should be on prevention and the mental health and wellness of the students to make sure that no one falls through the cracks or is feeling left behind or bullied. She believes that students should feel that school is a safe place where they feel accepted and not stigmatized. She credits the Scarsdale Schools with already implementing programs that put us “above the bar,” but feels that the district should “set the bar” in their efforts to educate healthy, well-rounded and confident kids.

Singer has a history of active volunteerism and enjoys living in a community where “people participate with their energy” and “embrace education in a meaningful way.” She “loves that people feel passionate about the issues.” She is also a fan of the non-partisan process, serving as a member of the SBNC from 2012-14, as the Vice Chair and as the Chair of the SBNC Administrative Committee in 2015 and 2016.

Beyond her credentials, she appears to have a good disposition to deal with controversial community issues and passionate neighbors. She is poised, direct and most important, optimistic about what the future holds for students, parents, the Scarsdale Schools and community.

The election for the School Board and a vote on the proposed 2018/19 school budget will be held on Tuesday, May 15, 2018.

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