Board Candidate Kerry Coleman-Herrick

How will you make an impact on the district?

So I see my impact in a few ways. One is the listening component that you guys heard of before. So I’m really about building consensus. I think that one of the things that I’ve noticed in my short time as a parent here is that there seems to be factions of discontent and the sides aren’t listening. If the sides aren’t listening to one another, we’re never going to come to resolutions and it’s going to get worse. So I see myself as a consensus builder and a listener being really, really important for my impact. Another thing is I am a special education teacher so when you talk about education law, regulations all those nuances and then also the things that schools face everyday, I live in [it], I know it. I attended quite a few board meetings and I hate when I hear people say “But why is our budget not going down?” Well because the cost of living is going up, because health insurance rises at more than 2% every year, because our school needs more resources than we’re given. People forget about the recession in 2009 that went back to education, people don’t realize governor Cuomo still owes millions of dollars he lost. He hasn’t paid us [back].. School districts are still saying “give us our money” and people lose sight of that. John Katko, our representative in Congress actually worked on bipartisan legislation to fully fund IDEA at 40%. It’s sitting in the House of Education Committee, not being moved on. How many people know that? How many people are writing him, how many people are writing that committee to make sure we’re get the funding that we need? So I see those as being areas I can really impact and make a difference.

What should be the main goal for the Board?

I don’t know if I have a single goal. I don’t know if I have an agenda. I don’t want to say I have a goal or an agenda. My agenda is to make us better than we were.

Should school activities receive equal funding and support?

I’m going to be very honest that I don’t have a great feel about what has been cut at the high school level. I know that things at the PTG’s at the elementary school have taken on. But that’s one of the things I would like to hear about from our high school students. And I really hope we get that high school board member because my district has them and they are awesome.

How would you make changes for our school?

So once again, K-8, I have a great feel for what we need there. From ELA curriculum to new computers in the middle school. And all those need to be addressed. High school, I’m not as connected to.  I don’t know many teachers or students at the high school. I’m open to learning more, but that’s a relative abyss to me at this point.

What’s the most pressing issue facing the district?

Like I said, we’re seeing it nationally, so it’s not a JD problem as much as it is a national problem. We’ve forgotten what it means to be a community and look out for one another. There’s always money and there’s always politics, but in the end it comes down to what we do for kids. Because you guys are the future. So if we’re not taking care of you, how do we expect you to take care of me when I’m old and decrepit?

Who should have final say in what is published in a school paper?

I think that there needs to be strong policies in place. And if I knew what your policies were, I’d be able to answer that more thoughtfully. If there are policies that protect information, it should be protected.  We wouldn’t want anything put out there of a personal nature. If there are strong policies put into place that everyone adheres to then I think that yes, it’s a powerful tool. You think about the kids in Kansas that uncovered the fact that their principal lied. Like first of all, how does that happen? And second of all, that speaks volumes to how invested students are. So yes, we want to encourage that in a healthy way. I think about the onslaught of student journalism currently happening in our country and that’s not okay. People shouldn’t get kicked out. [On the international level] we shouldn’t have journalists who are being slain. So protection for journalism in general, yes I’m all for it. We do need to be mindful of the fact that we need to have parameters in place to protect students.

On the referendum to add a student representative to the Board

I really want to make sure we get a [student] board member on. One of the other things I have put out in public comment is that we should have a board liaison to the school. So a board liaison to the school in my school district means that you go to after school events, you tour the building, you are on call when something happens in the building and they want to make sure it is brought to the board’s attentions, [the liason] is the person that they go to. And that’s something I’d like to see JD implement as a policy so that there is a voice for students, teachers, and community members.

Whose opinions should carry the most weight in establishing school policy?

I think it depends on what the policy is. I don’t think many students are very interested in reading educational law. But on the other hand we look at the student code of conduct that relates to you guys. So I think you have to look at what the policy is about and then weigh the input based on who it is affecting most.