Meet 2021 Board Candidate Kelly Austin

How will you, as a Board member, impact the J-D schools and community?

As a new board member I am hoping to bring a new, fresh positive attitude to the issues that may arise, as well as assess budgets in a timely manner and listen to my community members without personal bias.

If elected, what would be the main goal of your agenda during your time as a Board member?

Honestly, I have no personal agenda or one main goal that I would like to present, looking to bring myself to the table open-minded; willing to listen to what the community wants and needs. I would love to see a mentoring program develop among the students… something along the lines of high school kids working with elementary kids.  I am also a huge fan of promoting the BOCES trade programs, there is currently a large gap to fill and I keep hearing we are lacking plumbers, HVAC, and electricians in the working world. 

Many areas in the school receive less attention than other areas, both financially and publicly.  Do you believe they should all be covered equally?  If so, how would you make sure all areas are covered equally?

Absolutely!  Financially, I would have to work with the Board and review funding so I feel I can’t be specific at this time.  I will say that I would advocate for drama, music and theater programs, they are equally as important as the athletic events. 

Moving forward, how would you plan to make changes to our materials, classrooms, and other areas of the school?

Budgeting to the areas in need… one example from last year I can recall (pre-COVID) on Open House Night, it was brought to the parents’ attention how hard the kids work even on their lunch hour due to lack of equipment available… one of the elective classes didn’t have enough video recording equipment.  I would love to see funds directed to the areas of technology that inspire career paths in radio, TV, and journalism.

What do you believe is the most pressing issue facing the J-D district?

RTS (return to school)… this has been so hard on the staff, students and parents.  

Many community members likely want to hear your stance on pertinent issues right now.  What is your stance on the SRO position?  What about the budget shortfall and COVID-19 restrictions being lessened? 

While I have empathy for those against the SRO placed in school, I am an advocate for that position to stay at J-D.  Teachers, administrators and students need the support and the relationship.  With that said, I do strongly believe the SRO has to be a very unique individual that can recognize how powerful their presence is among the students and display attributes that bridge the gap.

What do you think of the position of student Board representative?

I think it is wonderful to have a student representative that is willing to participate and allowed to do so.

Do you believe administrators should have the final say over material published in the school newspaper, rather than students making the executive decisions?

I do think students need guidance in these areas, you are still learning so much.  I would have to say yes, it’s our job as adults to help you be the best you and put out your best work.  Sometimes part of that process may be critiquing what is or is not appropriate or applicable. 

What are you going to do to make sure students’ voices are heard?

Listen, listen, and listen more.  So important.  I value everyone’s opinion regardless of age and who better to hear from than the student body.

Whose opinions (students, parents, or school officials) should carry the most weight in establishing school policies? Please rank them in order of value.

School officials first, they are trained to do just that, it’s their domain.  Parents next, being the older generation I feel past experience offers value.  With that said, I think the students’ opinion is very important.  This is your everyday life, we should always be listening.

All Board member articles 2021:

Carolyn Souser:

Jalal Zoghby:

Ruth Arena:

H. Bernard Alex:

Kelly Austin:

Emily Costello:

Lisa McKenney:

Isaiah Steinberg, '23
Isaiah Steinberg is a senior at J-DHS. He is the Standards Editor and News Editor for the RamPage. In his free time, he enjoys hanging out with friends, playing with his half-brother, or sleeping.