How will you impact the schools and community as a board member?
Well I think that we are making some great forward momentum in community relations, I think that’s huge, we are hearing students, we’re hearing parents, we’re talking to teachers. The lines of communication maybe have not always been so open, and so I’m really happy with the progress we are making there. I feel like I have been part of that progress, and I want to continue to do that so I’m happy with where it’s going and I want to see it continue in that direction.
What should be the main goal of the Board?
I think again back to the community impact, you know we’re seeing more people at board meetings and people want to be heard. I think we have to respect that and I think we have to pay attention to that. I also think obviously there’s been this outcry from our public around how we handle diversity and inclusion and all those things and we need to really continue to hear that message and figure out ways to work together towards a greater good and not necessarily against each other, so I want to continue to make that work.
Should school activities receive equal funding and support?
Obviously it depends on the number of students that are within that field. You know there are certain allegations of dollars affected by how many kids are in programs, and I certainly feel like we would like to know about these groups and if they feel marginalized. To be honest I don’t have a high schooler, I have kids in the elementary so if there’s stuff going on around that, I don’t necessarily know what the big need is. I need guys like you and girls like you to come to our meetings to tell us because then we can assist in advocating for those funds if necessary. But we don’t know what we don’t know, and sometimes you know the job of the board is not to run the school district, so we do take care of the dollars, but we need to know what and if we don’t know what we don’t know, so if somebody brings it forward we will definitely do some work around that.
How will you ensure student voices are heard?
I am super receptive. We have a wonderful board president right now who has definitely changed the communication impact that we are having. We’ve had lots of students email us. We definitely now talk about it and they’re gotten back to. I would love to hear more from students who can’t go to meetings. I know you’re all on the internet all day long, so shoot an email. I mean our cell-phone numbers are on there, so you can text and say “Hey we want to talk to you about something.” We would love to hear from our constituencies. We service you, so the more we know the more we can keep ourselves informed of what we need to pay attention to.
What is the most pressing issue facing JD?
That’s hard to speak to. I think all districts, not just JD, have a lot of issues that we face and all of our different constituent groups feel that their issue is the most important, so I think that we continue to bubble up some of the issues that we’re finding need some more attention right now such as the diversity and equity issue, the communication issue, groups feeling marginalized. We can’t handle everything all at once. This is not a race, it’s a marathon, and so we have to really be mindful of how we choose what we address based upon where the issues are lying and how we move forward. We can’t do it all at once, so we are moving in the right direction and we need people to be patient as we work through all these issues.
On the referendum to have a student representative on the Board
I fully supported that, if anyone looks through the board minutes and notes from the last year, you know Max Mimaroglu came to our meetings pretty regularly and he knows that we supported him. I actually was the one who finally got to say I recommend this for approval, so I am super excited about the possibility and it’s happening. Well I take that back. Excuse me, it’s not happening until the public votes on it, but my hope is that people will support it and I am really excited about it. In my campaign, I have encouraged people to support that proposition because I think this is a a group of constituents we don’t hear enough from. It will be really important to have somebody from the school on the board for sure.
Who should have the final say on what gets published in a school paper?
I think that’s kind of a little bit of a loaded question because there is some content that might be deemed inappropriate. Maybe you’re saying something insensitive to marginalized groups or maybe it’s something that is dealing with a personnel issue, a teacher comment, or something that could get yourself in a little bit of trouble as a writer. So I do think that the administration has to have some oversight when it comes to, not talking censoring, I’m talking monitoring and that’s two very different things. There needs to be some conversation around is this appropriate for you to put in the paper, is this going to put you in jeopardy. I think you guys do a really great job and your paper is amazing and the writing is so awesome and the articles, but I think there has to be some oversight and monitoring over stuff that goes out to protect you and the district.
What is your position on the Journalism Free Speech Act?
I’m not super familiar with the bill so I don’t want to speak too much without really kind of doing my own research on it and understanding the bill myself. I think student free speech is extremely important. You have to be able to have your voice heard, but also you have to be mindful of protecting yourself and others as you do that work. So yes, I would imagine that if other states are supporting this bill, I would love to learn more about it. And if New York is looking at that anyway and seeing what’s happening in our schools here, then yes I believe that free speech for all Americans is important. But I think we just have to be mindful of sometimes we make rash decisions and potentially publish something that might be harmful to you or others. We just have to be mindful of that, even though it’s your right to publish it, is it the right thing to do for everyone, looking at all our groups and not just one particular group.