With less than three weeks until the School Board Election, three residents have thrown their hat in the ring: incumbent Karen Belanger, relative newcomer Blake Jines-Storey, and active community member Jason Mehler.
By Sarah Varney
With less than three weeks until the School Board Election, three residents have thrown their hat in the ring: incumbent Karen Belanger, relative newcomer Blake Jines-Storey, and active community member Jason Mehler. There are two seats up in the May 20 Election; longtime School Board member Ed Fox chose not to run again, Belanger is running for a second three-year term.
Jines-Storey and his wife Kelley Storey have lived in Rye for four years. Jines-Storey is the Chief Technology Officer for Zachy’s Wines in Scarsdale. They have two daughters, one an eighth grader at Rye Middle School, the other a second grader at Milton School. The family moved to Rye from Columbus, Ohio.
They considered settling in Scarsdale until they discovered Rye. “It felt like such a community. We sat down and had lunch at Ruby’s and that sort of solidified things,” he said.
Jines-Storey believes that his technology background will be a helpful addition to the Board. “I have a different skill set than anyone else on the board. In my job, I take the business ideas and make them real through the use of technology. Just having a different background will give me a different perspective on the issues that the District faces,” he said.
Both Jines-Storey and his wife grew up in the Dayton, Ohio suburb of Huber Heights, which calls itself “the largest community of brick homes in the United States.” He holds a B.S. in Computer Engineering from Franklin University and also studied mechanical engineering at Ohio State University.
In announcing his candidacy, Mehler stated, “An abuse of power and of our tax dollars by the current Board of Education has gone unchecked for too long. It is for this reason — and many others — that I am running.”
Mehler is a licensed realtor at William Raveis. He has a B.S. in Professional Accounting. He and his wife, Carin, a teacher at Osborn School, have two daughters a fourth grader at Milton and an eight grader at Rye Middle School.
“While the District faces a $3.8 million budget shortfall, waste continues. As a real estate agent in this community, not a day goes by that I don’t hear complaints from seniors — especially those on a fixed income — that this School Board acts as though it holds a blank check. While resources for many necessary programs and services have been cut, the Board continues to make irrational decisions about where to spend our money.”
He believes his business background— including his previous experience as a corporate comptroller, accountant, and tax specialist — is what the School Board is in great need of. “I will bring budgeting, management, and financial planning to the position — skills and talents that are crucial to any governing organization.”
Mehler decries the treatment of teachers under Superintendent Dr. Frank Alvarez’s tenure. “Since the start of Superintendent Alvarez’s regime, treatment of our teachers has reached an all-time low. This culture of fear in our schools must end. I fully support the teachers and believe we must repair the damaged relationship between teachers and the Board.”
His wife, Carin, is one of two teachers still out on paid leave after last spring’s test coaching incident involving four elementary teachers. Carin Mehler filed a $2 million lawsuit against the District last month.
When asked how he would be able to work with a Board and School District that his family has pending litigation against, Mehler responded, “I am confident this litigation will be resolved in a timely manner and that will become a moot issue quickly. I am committed to serving our community with everyone’s best interest.”
Board member Belanger and her husband Mark have lived in Rye for 15 years. They have three children: a daughter who is a fifth grader at Midland School, and two sons, one a Rye High freshman, the other a Rye High junior.
Belanger believes her career background in finance and management consulting serves her well as a Board member. “Plus, I know the schools. I still have boots on the ground. I’m a huge believer in public schools and I truly believe that we have fabulous schools,” she said.
She has remained active both at Midland and in several school committees. She currently chairs the audit and instructional technology committees and serves on both the finance and policy committees.