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Few Attend Nanuet School Board Candidates Forum

The annual forum was hosted by the PTA Council. Check back with Patch for their answers to the public's questions.

 

The turnout was low for the PTA Council's annual Nanuet School Boards Candidates Night. On Monday night, the school board spots came out to field questions from the council and the public. Read this  for more on the candidates' profiles. 

  • Incumbent Sarah Chauncey
  • Incumbent Ed Dingman 
  • Challenger Scott Walters

"May 15 is an important date for our community," said Christine Camillieri, PTA Council President. "It's the day when we make our way to the polls to cast our votes for not only our school and public library's budget, but to vote for whom we feel would best represent us on the school board."

Voter registration will take place in the  on May 9 from 1-7 p.m. Voting on the and  as well as the candidates running for  and  boards is on May 15 from 7 a.m. - 9 p.m. at the Nanuet High School gym.

Here are their answers to the council's questions asked last night:

Why do you wish to run for the school board?

Chauncey

  • The board members have "stewardship as far as finances go, student achievement and creating a safe environment for children to learn and staying connected to the community."
  • "Learning has always been the way for people to achieve what they want to achieve and have a good life. Every child has potential to achieve." 

Dingman

  • "I believe in public education. I believe every student deserves a quality education. Nanuet School District is known for its schools."
  • He added that the main reason he and his family stayed in Nanuet is because of the schools
  • "It's been an unbelievable learning experience. We have a fantastic board, fantastic staff and administration"
  • "I'd like to give my time. I am a retired police officer and have some time to give back to the community and give back to the schools"

Walters

  • "I want to bring my own unique spin to things ... I can add a little bit of spice to the board ... I can bring a fresh perspective, something that isn't the status quo."
  • He added that he'll be able to work well with the board because he interacts with them on a regular basis. 
  • "Nanuet is a great place ... I enjoy the programming. I enjoy that there is a lot of focus that a lot of constituency groups are all addressed ... I think there are things that we can do to make it better."

What special strengths or qualifications would you bring to the board?

Chauncey

  • "When you're on a school board, you're there to help set policies for goals. Our main goals right now are finances, student achievement, safety and community connections."
  • "When you set that policy, you have to step back and allow the administration and staff to execute that policy ... What I can bring is the understanding that a board's role is to set policy and support administration and staff to achieve goals related to that policy."

Dingman

  • "I think I work very well with others. I had a great experience with the Highview Community Playground. (The members of the board) work very well with each other. There's nothing more counter-productive than a board that can't get along."
  • "I am a fresh new face ... I've only been on the board for 15 months now. It's a learning experience." 
  • "I also bring in the experience of a very difficult year with Pfizer, teacher contracts, the Nanuet Mall ... it's a tough time financially for the district

Walters

  • "I bring a sense of passion for things I feel strongly about. I also bring a sense of compassion."
  • "I have been a teacher ... I have three children that I'm very concerned about and I'm very concerned about all the other children in the school district"
  • "I certainly understand that the board sets the policy ... and that the board has to work well together. If I'm elected, I will work on taking a backseat and understanding exactly what the mechanics are which continuing to flesh out ideas that I think will bear fruit for all the constituency in the district"
  • "I also try to bring a sense of humor because I know that in these trying times, you always have to have that in your back pocket."

What are your top priorities and goals for the district?

Chauncey

  • Look further into STEM—Science, Technology, Engineering and Math—and the outdoor education center
  • "We're ensuring that the kids get the kinds of 21st century skills that they need to move on to college. Helping kids get college credit now during high school through RCC ... they'll save money when going off to college"
  • Maintain safe environments—anti-bullying —"I think we're extremely proactive"
  • "Your children are taking more tests than they should be taking. Those tests are not helping them ... it's not giving teachers information to improve instruction. Information is coming too late. We have to be careful that testing doesn't drive curriculum."

Dingman

  •  Learning through technology. "I think that's how our next generation is going to learn. We're going to have to push further with technology in the schools, whether it's bring your own (device) ..."
  • Fiscal responsibility—Pfizer, tax certs, 2 percent tax levy—"It's going to be an important goal in the district to continue our excellence with limited resources"

Walters

  • Bring in a Director of Development. Read more about his proposal on this in this .
  • "Continue academic achievement while we have all these issues with budget and staff positions being cut ... it's really important to walk that tightrope and provide the best with what we have available."

Where do you stand on the NYS standardized testing

Chauncey

  • "We do need accountability. However, (I'm against) testing that does not inform instruction and becomes a way to vilify teachers, to make students, young students especially, feel nervous"
  • Testing that works are the ones that show process and progress. To show, here's where you are and here's where you need to go and we'll help you get there. Testing can diminish students' self-efficacy, which means a low score will make a student feel they cannot do something
  • Fears that the great teachers that traditionally took students that needed assistance/support will now take high-performing students to produce a class that gets higher test scores. This may lead to parents’ misperceptions of teachers based off of student test scores

Dingman

  •  "I think the tests are a little bit too much. Teachers are teaching to tests and not education. Teachers don't want to have a class with low scores. 
  • Supports LIFO (Last in, First Out), says there is no subjective way of determining who is a good teacher and who is a bad teacher.

Walters

  • "We need to assess the students to determine what they know ... however, there are a lot of variables involved. Some students don't test well, some teachers aim their teaching toward the test and may be missing out on other (items). Some of the testing is illogical in their formation."
  • In favor of having a parent opt out. The student would still take the test, but the scores would not count. However, the parents can still see the student's assessment. 
  • "Experience does not equal excellence." Does not support LIFO. Says that there needs to be objective ways to measure teachers. 
  • "We all know who the great teachers are, we all know who the not-so-great teachers are. Word gets around."

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Voter registration will take place in the  on May 9 from 1-7 p.m. Voting on the and  as well as the candidates running for  and  boards is on May 15 from 7 a.m. - 9 p.m. at the Nanuet High School gym.

Check back with Patch for their answers to the public's questions.

Scott Walters May 08, 2012 at 10:44 AM
It is understandable given busy schedules that people might not have made it to the event last night. If anyone has any questions or comments they would like to dirct at me, I am here on the Patch community and you can send me a message that way. I will provide other contact information upon request. Transparancy and accountability are paramount.

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