During my time on the New Paltz Central School District Board of Education, I have been a member of the Facilities and Policy Committees, as well as Chair of the Legislative Action Committee. I currently serve as the board liaison to the Health Advisory Committee as a member of the Code of Conduct subcommittee and the newly formed Racial Equity Initiative Advisory Committee. This wide range of committee work brings me into direct contact and collaboration with a rich cross-section of the District, from our local first responders to enrolled students. I have also served as vice president of the BOE.
Together with the BOE of the last two years, I have helped develop student-centered budgets that have earned approval from more than 70 percent of the voting public. With my BOE colleagues, I oversee the District’s $52.9M Capital Project, which nears completion within budget. I am a strong advocate for prioritizing professional mental health supports, such as budgeting for psychologists and student access to counseling. I have also recommended the District add a community mental health professional and two medical first responders to its Health Advisory Committee. I am deeply grateful for the investment the public makes in New Paltz Schools and its trust in the BOE to make responsible financial decisions on its behalf.
My commitment to the children and larger District community are reflected in the following highlight resolutions and position statements the BOE has generated during my term:
- Acceptance of Belief/Good Neighbors
- Resolution in Support of Public Education and Opposing United States Secretary of Education Nominee Betsy DeVos
- Letter to Congressman Faso in support of School Safety
- Resolution: Indigenous Peoples Day
As lead author of several resolutions, I actively seek counsel from those with direct personal and professional insight. For the update on Acceptance of Belief/Good Neighbors, I solicited input from leaders of our local synagogues. To affirm the resolution to proceed with Indigenous Peoples Day, I reached out to and received feedback from the Reverend John Norwood, of the Nanticoke-Lenape Nation and General Secretary of the Alliance of the Colonial Era Tribes. For the District response to our then Congressperson, articulating research and recommendations supporting effective preventative school safety action, I enlisted the support of not only the BOE, but also the District Superintendent, District Director of Pupil Personnel Services and Special Education, and our New Paltz Chief of Police, all of whom are signatories. These written statements necessarily involve thoughtful research, but also listening, consent, collaboration and relationship-building.
During my tenure, the BOE established the Racial Equity Initiative Advisory Committee to center our ongoing effort to address institutional racism in the District. The work of this committee has already made powerful and positive changes—in improved hiring procedures, bias incident reporting, and the advent of an anonymous reporting tool—all of which will help build institutional safety and dignity for all students and families.
I worked to improve the District’s dress code in partnership with the Code of Conduct Subcommittee to combat the gender bias that has plagued such codes here and elsewhere. Together we worked to align the Dress Code more closely to our Mission by focusing on equity and clarity. This rigorous process incorporated key contributions — including a survey for the Middle and High School community—from students, teachers, staff as well as the larger Health Advisory Committee. This collaboration promises to be an invaluable blueprint for not only other policy changes, but also towards progress for a more positive, inclusive school culture. I have also played a key role in improving our district’s Student Sexual Harassment Policy, insisting on student-centered mental health supports for all parties involved.