What is the main goal of the Board and what will be your impact?
So as you know the board, any individual board member can’t act alone, so as a group we collectively discuss and make decisions. But where I can contribute to the decisions and the direction that I’d like the conversation to go into with the board is primarily where my area of expertise is which is with the funding and raised concerns about our future budgets and what we’re going to need to do if the state funding formula does not change. So to me as an individual I want to continue deep conversations and discussions around funding and whether or not there’s opportunities for grants and that we are just exploring all opportunities to maximize the funding that we can get, so that’s one of the areas that I can contribute strongly. But also I have a lot of experience with reading policies and revising policies and although we are somewhat limited with what we can take on, we have some freedom to add or enhance the policies by coming up with let’s say a supplemental sizing type policy so policies and guidance are just continuously improving them and redefining them. I think safety is also something that we need to continue monitoring. We made a good effort getting our SRO officer in the high school with additional security measures at all of the schools, but we’re all still trying to balance that with parents wanting to get into the elementary schools. They don’t feel that that’s even friendly, so we’re trying to balance safeties along with keeping open minds of communication for the parents to have some participation in the schools. The last thing is that as an auditor we are constantly monitoring the quality and goals, looking at our successes and how our students as well as our teaching staff will continuously develop and learn new and different ways to address the most current issues. So that’s what I want to be able to contribute over the next three years.
Should all school activities receive equal funding and support?
I’ll explain my understanding of how the funding works and I may not have this 100% so I would probably wanna just confirm with Dr. Smith, but I believe there is some correlation with the student participation in the extracurriculars and clubs and the activities. I think they do look at the volume of student participation to kind of balance how the funding weighs in. I know that we have received presentations from, I can think of the MUN group, probably was two or three years ago where they requested and they did a presentation of why they felt they deserved more funding to help supplement travel expenses. It was a great presentation, and we were able to find some funding in the budget year as well as build it into the future years to help supplement the travel expenses. So one of the things that I would probably recommend or maybe what I need to do is . . . if the ceramics and the photo area and any other curricular clubs don’t feel that they are getting the materials, the funding, the expenses — what can we do to help that group or have those the leaders of those groups give us a high level overview of what they are looking for. And again the pros and cons. Would they give us more opportunities in the arts, . . . the arts and literary contests, so if that’s something that is going to enhance and bring in more attention to the group, then my recommendation is just bring that to the board’s attention because we may not [know]. If we hear nothing, we assume everyone is happy, you know what I’m saying.
What is the most pressing issue facing the district?
You could poll 25 people and you could probably get 25 different answers, so it typically is the individual, the family, the students. It’s more individual experience and perspective that is going to make a statement like that, so if you’re asking me as a board member versus a parent, I might even have a different answer. My concern is a pressing issue from a student’s perspective is going to be very different than what parents are concerned about or teaching staff is concerned about. But as I mentioned, I am very concerned about the funding, I have to get over that and now move on and say what is bothering or what is a pressing issue. We do have families, and I think you’re familiar with the group that’s been coming to the board, I think it’s called the JD Families for Equity. If they’ve had an experience that they feel is a very widespread concern throughout the school district, to me that’s the issue is we really need to get to the root of what is going on and that we continue to work with Dr. Smith to ensure that it its being addressed. So we are in phase one right now which was we received all of the surveys that we just did recently. Then comes the process of putting together those survey results as well as having the Perception Institute design professional training to address the concerns that this family group is bringing. To me that’s the pressing issue because if we have that many unhappy families, it puts a negative light or tone to our teaching staff and school district. We want the right thing to do is address and get to the root cause of what we can do to make and address concerns. That’s the pressing issue.
On the referendum to add a student representative to the Board
Oh, I’m very excited about that, I fully support it. It was very impressive when Max presented that two years ago. I think it’s going to be a great experience for the individual. I think that you’re gonna have that instant student representation and voice there versus trying to, let’s go find out what our students have to say with student government or ask Mr. Gasparini to give us some feedback on what your concerns are. So I think having that student right there, we’re gonna get that instant feedback.
Who should have the final say in what gets published in a school paper?
So your question to me is that you’re assuming that I know that was the case, so is this what is occurring right now, an administrator meaning previews your articles before they are published? I’ll share my experience with you and then I’ll see if I can give you a more definitive opinion. In my work force as well as a lot of companies when I’m dealing with large dollar amounts responsibilities and liabilities for the hospitals — what I do for a living is I audit and compute liabilities and payments to the hospitals to their health insurance, so when I compute a seven million dollar liability to a hospital, before that presentation about the hospital, it is renewed by a more senior auditor or someone that is more experienced than me and may have a different perspective. So you may find a lot of companies have a quality management system that requires in order to earn this very stringent standards, high standards of quality that all of the work must be what they call “peer reviewed”. So on the one hand I do agree that the work should be peer reviewed or quality reviewed by someone that has more expertise or experience on the topic. That is that. Now from your perspective as a student, if a certain topic is not permitted to be released, I think I don’t have an opinion. I feel like there should be a compromise. If the topic’s not appropriate, is there a variation of the topic would be acceptable as long as it has two sides and it’s not a one-sided article. In that respect, I don’t know if I’m really answering your question in a way to say yes or no. I feel that it should be reviewed. My concern is how the conversation occurs when the administration and the student don’t agree. As long as it’s a professional conversation and that some sort of a compromise can come out of it, I’m very comfortable with that. What’s comfortable if you’re given the answer “No this will not be released” and there is no conversation?
What are you going to do to make sure student voices are heard?
We’re gonna get great viewpoints from everyone. Most of our policies are presented from a legal service. They usually have more than one reference to New York State registration law. It’s ensuring legal responsibilities so there’s some formality behind that. I feel that everyone’s input is critical and very valuable in shaping the flexibility for the small amount of flexibility that we have with certain policies, but again I mentioned earlier there’s certain standard policies that by law are going to be written the way they are and then we can be creative with a different sort of policy. So in that fact I think it’s very critical because we’re looking out for the safety of our students. We also want our students to be heard and feel empowered that we do have the ability to shape the direction that we are going in. I think that’s very critical and very important. So it’s hard for me to say to you I feel one over the other is more important . . . I feel like I’m very fair and I need to see both sides.
What is your position on the Journalism Free Speech Act?
I guess I would need to know more about it. If a topic was there with a potential to cause a major rip or division in the school system or it was extremely political but did not give all an opportunity to weigh into the article, that is the only thing that I feel there is to be some limitation. Just to be given more guidance and oversight in that respect, but not from a limiting and preventing you from having that opportunity to speak, so perhaps his bill will be something that’s a big positive.