New York State – it’s time to vote for your school budgets and school boards again! This year, we vote on Tuesday, May 21.
Do children’s future deserve a “Yes” vote? Does that question even need to be asked? Long before I became a member of the school board, my dad instilled in me not only a love of education but the responsibility to make sure I vote for education. I often wish I could selectively choose to vote for whatever platform I believe so the funding is appropriated the way I want. But that’s not the case. School districts are at the public’s mercy every year – hoping, praying, pleading – to pass budgets. Every defeated budget affects the lives of hundreds to thousands of kids. Take a moment to fast forward years down the road – those same kids are then in decision making roles that will affect our lives. They come in the form of every worker and profession that our lives will cross. Doesn’t it seem fitting to make sure they receive the best education? I think so. That’s why every year so far, my vote has been yes – and can pretty much predict it will continue on this path.
As many or most of you know, June 30 will be my last day as a Board member. With work, graduate school and my photography business consuming my time, I had to make some decisions. It was a tough and emotional decision, but it was one I had to make in order to be fair. If I can’t give 110%, then I can’t do the job that is required. It has been quite an experience over the past 14 years! I have had the privilege of working with an outstanding group of Board members. Each one has brought an expertise and perspective to the table, each one of you, I have learned from. We have had the opportunity to see some wonderful things in the district. In a district like Green Island, it is a unique experience because administration, faculty, staff, students, community members … we know them. They are not the kid in 5th grade; the person that teaches reading in 3rd grade; the custodian, the office worker, the administrator – we know them. Making decisions under these circumstances has NOT always been easy, and there have been times of tears (my own), when that has happened. It’s a tough balancing act because – I know them.
My advice for the newest members of the Board that will be voted for on Tuesday – is to remember one very important fact. Being a Board member does not mean that YOU are the voice of the Board, it means that you are 1/5 of the voice of the Board. Whatever agendas that may be brought in? Remember, you not only have guidelines – but state-mandated laws that must be followed. (Ohh, and then there are the unfunded state mandates … be prepared with headache relief medication when you hear this term in a meeting.) Being on the Board does not mean ruling with the proverbial rubber stamp. However, it takes working together as a team to be successful – just as any other “relationship” with people. There is no “I” in team – and there cannot be an “I” on the Board. My second bit of advice that was given to me many years ago by one of my mentors when I first started on the Board – you have to have a tough skin. You will be making popular decisions, and some unpopular ones. The balancing act I mentioned before – it’s tough – therefore, you need tough skin at times!
Finally – I just want to thank everyone. First and foremost the Board members present and past. We have been told that we must be a glutton for punishment for serving on the Board for the high salary we receive each year (those beautiful corsages at graduation before anyone gets the wrong idea!). Our accomplishments have been in the form of 14 passed budgets, a beautiful renovation/expansion project and overcoming each of the MANY obstacles that have been thrown in our path. It has truly been an honor to serve with each of you. To all the administrators and teachers present and past, I have enjoyed working with you – and have always appreciated your efforts (I certainly hope you know that!). And to the community members, for having faith and confidence to vote for me – but most importantly for passing budgets.
Our children’s futures rely on you! Please keep that in mind on May 21.