Tom Corbia, who won a Port Chester school board seat Tuesday and ousted incumbent Blanca Lopez, said his victory came from supporters throughout the community and from the “non-support” of a board decision to cut 14 reading specialists from next year’s budget.
Corbia, 63, a retired Port Chester teacher, claimed one of two open seats by placing ahead of Lopez, the board president. James Dreves, 70, who has served on the board for 21 years, placed first and won an eighth term.
Corbia repeated promises that he can help reach a deal on the high-stakes teachers contract, currently under negotiation. In doing so, “I want to get the reading teachers back,” he said. Dreves and Lopez are on the negotiating team, and Corbia said he’s asking to join.
Lopez, 36, is leaving after one term. “I am thrilled that the budget passed. As for the board election, I wish all the best to Mr. Dreves and Mr. Corbia,” she said. “They have a lot of challenging work ahead. It’s a hard time to serve on a board.”
Lopez took issue with a pro-Corbia letter sent out just before the election under the heading of the Rye Town Conservative Committee. It is signed by Saverio Terenzi, the party chairman, who said he sent the letter to 1,000 homes at his expense.
“It sets a bad precedent to mix politics with school business,” Lopez said today. The letter charts tax rate increases since 2009-10, saying: “If you have been living in the district since July 1, 2010 and the assessed valuation of your home has remained constant then your school tax bill will have increased by 29.69%.
“Who has a constant assessed home valuation? Most people have seen wild swings in their assessments,” Lopez said. Assessments are updated regularly in Rye Town (which includes Port Chester). Home values have dropped overall, and that has fueled part of the rate increase.
(To calculate your own school tax bill for next year in Port Chester, see this page.)
Terenzi defended the claims in the letter and his use of the party name, noting that Lopez has long been involved in the Democratic Party. “I made sure everybody knew where it was coming from,” he said.
Corbia declined to comment, saying Lopez’s issue was with Terenzi.