Frequently Asked Questions
Why are you running for the Board of Education? If elected, what will be your priorities?
I am running for the GCSD Board of Education to help this district continue the positive trajectory it has begun. I have advocated for improved outcomes for ALL students throughout my years of service to our district. I want to solidify some of the educational programs we have and examine others to see how they could be improved so we can help our students become confident, capable, and caring citizens.
What particular experiences or skills have prepared you to serve as a board member?
I’ve volunteered at the schools and attended BOE meetings for over 10 years, so I have an idea of the concerns parents have and understand the huge time commitment involved in this volunteer position. My experience serving on the Education, Fiscal Planning, Audit, Community Engagement and Facilities committees will allow me to hit the ground running as determine how best to support our students. Previously, I worked as Revenue Manager at an international financial information company, so have experience with contracts, controls, and process audits. I led the Europe, Middle East, and Africa team, and served as a liaison with our Asian offices for my function. I intentionally created a diverse team and have the experience of bridging differences to work towards a common goal.
In what school district or community activities/organizations have you been involved?
My two children have progressed through GCSD since kindergarten and currently attend Woodlands Middle/High School, so I often attend their school events. I am a past PTA board member who held various positions including President. I organized the book fairs for many years. I was a core member of the parent group working towards equitable funding for Greenburgh schools in partnership with our local legislators. I was a parent representative for International Baccalaureate re-certifications at a few of our elementary schools. I have attended BOE monthly and committee meetings for over 10 years, including the Education, Fiscal Planning, Audit, Community Engagement, and Facilities committees. I am Committee Chair of the Scouts BSA Troop in Hartsdale, volunteer with Westchester Parks Foundation and a member of Sacred Heart parish.
What attributes and behaviors are essential for school board members?
Ability to listen to other perspectives, ask thoughtful questions, consider facts, and make decisions in a professional manner. Availability to learn what is happening on the ground in schools. Willingness to find areas of agreement with the overarching goal of enabling our students to achieve their best – however it is defined for each child.
What is a school board member’s role and responsibility? How does that role differ from the role of the superintendent or administration?
A school board member should query policy and finances, but not direct the implementation of educational strategies. Asking questions, comparing outcomes, and providing feedback from the community are appropriate ways to help the administration improve both the education of our children and the communication of the district’s efforts in that regard.
How can a school board know if its goals are being accomplished and its policies are being implemented?
Defining the goals and ensuring they are measurable is both important and difficult. Various stakeholders should be included in that process. Accomplishment of those goals and policy implementation should be determined at regular intervals through reports from administration and through parent/staff/student surveys or confidential interviews as well as observation.
What is the best way to address differences of opinion on the board or between the board and the administration?
If disagreements are related to policy or finances, those discussions should be held at open meetings, in a respectful manner and with the goal of achieving understanding and consensus on the best course of action. Other differences of opinion should be addressed privately, utilizing a mediator if the topic warrants. If there is continued disagreement on a key educational or safety measure, it would be good to survey best practices so all parties can understand what others and/or experts suggest is the best course of action.
What is the role of schools in teaching children about topics such as: sex education, cyber-safety, AIDS, wellness, bullying?
A lot of these topics are covered in Health class at different ages and to different degrees. The schools should cover these topics as part of preparing our students for life after graduation as informed citizens. Unfortunately, many of these topics are sometimes not discussed in the home, and students need and deserve accurate information about how these issues affect their physical and mental health, and what actions they can take to get help if needed.
Could you support a board decision you did not vote in favor of? Why or why not?
If the majority of the board voted for something I did not, I would support that decision insofar as it becomes the ruling course of action. I would want to help the district move forward and would work with the board to ensure the decision is aligned with the board’s goals.
How can a board of education best communicate with its constituent groups?
The board overall should have a web presence that is updated often with information on meetings that the public can attend. The board can share the district social media platforms for announcements about meetings or info about elections. The board can look into an email/text blast service and suggest the general public register to become informed on updates regarding board business. The board can post their contact info in all school buildings and share it annually with community stakeholder groups and unit PTAs. The board should also send regular surveys to the community so they get feedback from those who don’t proactively contact the board. Various board members will have different kinds of individual outreach, depending on the age of their children and their participation in other community events.
What is your vision for education in this community?
We should offer the financial and emotional supports to help GCSD students achieve the education that helps them become confident, capable, and caring citizens who can effectively communicate to achieve their personal goals. The district, and we community members, should hold our students to high standards and their best performance and not the “good enough” outcome that might come more easily. We should encourage our students to challenge themselves now, while we are here to catch them and setbacks have fewer repercussions, instead of seeing whether they fall once they begin their lives after high school.
What do you see as the major issue(s) facing your school district? Public education?
Most importantly, we need to ensure we plan for and implement engaging programs needed to ensure our children will be on a solid educational and social-emotional footing as we move to the end of pandemic learning environment. We need to ensure GCSD can provide a safe learning environment for our students and staff, with an eye to spaces which can engage students with different learning styles. To that end, financing is always a hurdle, so we need to be fiscally responsible in our choices.
What issues do you believe your district needs to address in its academic program and offerings? What changes would you recommend?
We need to develop a robust response to the obstacles created by the pandemic learning environment - summer learning program or additional school-year Academic Intervention Services to include more students who may not automatically receive that extra help.
We need to examine how to continue improving our social-emotional learning within curriculum areas as well as with stand-alone offerings.
We need to upgrade our facilities so we have a safe learning environment for our students and staff.
We need to ensure International Baccalaureate continues to be fully integrated in our curriculum modules and perhaps integrate the IB Learner Profile into our Social-Emotional Learning.
Our district could review the PreK-12 curriculum to ensure it offers plenty of hands-on experiential learning.
We need to ensure we are engaging students with different learning styles across all curriculum areas.
We should ask the teachers what areas they feel need to be addressed.
What should your school district do to better prepare students as citizens?
I think the International Baccalaureate (IB) program with its Learner Profile provides a good basis for teaching civic participation but could be extended with more “actions”. That could be augmented with some sort of “Be A Friend” (not a bully or a bystander) program which focuses on the DO's and not just the DON'Ts of social behavior. Themed book discussions could provide another opportunity for “showing and telling” how one could contribute to community improvement, and this is already done in many classrooms. Clubs which encourage volunteering already exist at the middle and upper level. Guided discussions, assemblies and art programs are other avenues to explore what it means to be a citizen.
What can be done to improve student achievement and ensure everyone who graduates is college-ready?
First, everyone who graduates will not be college-ready because there is not a one-size-fits-all pathway for students. The goal should be that each student achieves their best and is prepared to handle life’s challenges. Each should have the skills necessary to successfully enter college or a work program or a trade and to do well once in that position. Sometimes this may require more resources to implement supporting educational programs (extra help, learning labs, test prep, review sessions) or hands-on, experiential learning opportunities to reinforce the curriculum lessons (text-to-world connections through experiments, workshops, trips, internships, projects). As stated earlier, we should help our students become confident, capable, and caring citizens who can effectively communicate to achieve their personal goals.
What are your thoughts on your school district's programs for special education students, English Language Learners (ELL), and gifted students?
I used to be more informed about the special education aspect of our district, so admit that I need to update my learning. I do believe it is best to give as many supports as possible at the younger ages while students and families are learning the child’s strengths. The roller coaster method of giving & taking support does not seem logical to me at the youngest ages. As the children age, there is a better understanding of how each can best learn and grow, so it is possible some of those supports may no longer be needed.
Our ELL program is another area where I need to become better informed. In the past I've seen some innovative ways our teachers were enabling students to express themselves, so would like to learn more about the program across all grade levels. Our Advanced Learner Program is still new, but I would like to see whether some aspects can be expanded to other classrooms. I would also want to know how successful we are at ensuring students in those classes aren’t in a bubble and are also interacting with many others in their cohort.
What are your areas of concern regarding student achievement in your district?
When discussing NYS test scores in a normal year, we need to understand whether cohort scores are affected when students leave the district or whether individual performances change. We also need to analyze data to see which specific areas and/or age groups need additional support.
Do you have specific suggestions for improvement?
Without additional information, I would not have productive input at this time. I would also rely on the advice of educators who are the experts in this area.
Given all the issues that arise, how can the board stay focused on student achievement?
Staying focused on student achievement is a balancing act, which is why I believe every other topic should feed into the core discussion – how will this help our students do the best work?
How does a school board balance the need to provide a quality education with the need to respond to the local taxpayer burden?
Balancing educational offerings with local finances requires making difficult choices. We’ve put off maintenance needs on our buildings for years in order to keep budget increases low as we prioritized improving our educational offerings. The board will need to communicate the facility and educational needs to the public and listen to what the public feels are priorities. I suggest that any interested community members attend the Community Engagement & Communications Committee meetings for broad discussions of the issues that concern them. They could also attend the Education or Finance & Facilities Committee meetings for more targeted discussions.
What are your thoughts on the current and the proposed budget for your school district?
I think this is a good budget and encourage a YES vote. I’ve served on the Fiscal Planning/Finance committee for years now, and I think the current budget proposal is reasonable and conservatively estimates revenues. I agree with the proposal we will have implemented for the second year now which provides for surplus funds of the current fiscal year to be added to the Repair Reserve Fund, which may provide monies for repairs without increasing the tax burden.
As a board member, where would you look to make budget cuts?
In past financial planning/budget sessions, we have found areas to cut (ex. purchases of new desks and administrative salaries), but there is little “fat” to cut because so much of the budget is fixed contractually or by state law. I think this year we have a solid budget plan.
Are there any areas you would not consider cutting?
Again, the bulk of the budget costs are fixed contractually or by law (salaries, benefits, contributions to retirement systems). Special education needs vary each year depending on the needs of specific students, but I would be loathe to cut funds for our neediest students.
What changes should be made on the state and local level regarding public education?
We need to continue to advocate for equitable state funding, as the formula for disbursement penalizes GCSD for being located in a municipality where families move with the intention of sending their children to private/religious schools. Also, the building aid formula limits GCSD to the minimum 10% reimbursement for capital projects so this is another area where legislative reform is needed to help our district.