There are three people running for two seats on the Marlboro school board this year. Current board member Antonio Perugino has chosen not to seek another term.
Joann Reed is again running for the board, having previously served for seven years.
“I wear my black and orange colors very proudly to this day. What I have learned from my boys and others, is to have compassion, empathy and understanding. I would be honoring them if you were to give me the chance to represent the community on the board of education.”
Reed said during her tenure she worked for the community, “to be financially responsible in holding the school district accountable in the way we spend our tax dollars.” She added that a school board must not only be responsive to the residential taxpayers but to the business owners in town.
Reed said she worked with her fellow board members to put money from the reserves into the budget to give relief to the community.
Reed believes it is important to have women on the board because, “we bring an equal voice to the table. As taxpayers we should have an equal say.”
Reed pointed out that being a school board member is not just about showing up twice a month to meetings but it is about being there with the students, the staff and the community, “and to show them support and respect.” She said siting on the board is about making education better for all students.
Karen Brooks has been a resident of Marlborough for 36 years. She is a wife, a mother of a 10 year old girl, an educator and a business owner. She said the timing in her personal and business lives has now provided her the time needed to serve on the board.
“It is everyone working as a team that make our schools and our community as successful as they are,” she said.
Brooks said it has always been important for her to give back to the community, especially to the students, “who are the most precious treasures that we have, that’s our children and our future.”
Brooks noted that the students who enter kindergarten this fall will graduate High School in 2031 and it is imperative that the district provide them with the necessary skills they will need to meet that future world.
Brooks is currently a data analyst for the Highland School District. She began her journey in education starting as a Teacher’s Aide, moving up to a Pre-School Teacher, a Teacher and an Ulster County regional coordinator of special projects for reading, a Director for Special Education, Curriculum, Technology and data analysis. In her consultancy role, Brooks reviewed AIS scores and Special Education for the Marlborough School District.
In the community Brooks is a member of the agra-tourism organization Meet Me in Marlborough, serves on the advisory board for the Computer Science Department at Marist College in their undergraduate and graduate programs and is on the advisory board for the Mid Hudson Regional Information Center. Brooks has given keynote presentations at the College of St. Rose and at SUNY New Paltz, “on the topic of 2030, The Future of Education and the changes that are needed in education in order for our students to be successful.”
Brooks said she is prepared and ready to work on the Marlborough School Board
“Based on my training, dedication, perseverance, knowledge of the educational field and my love of teaching and our students, I would be honored to have your support this election and proud to serve our educational community for the next three years.”
Russell Conley won a seat on the school board six years ago and is running for a third term. He is pleased with the direction of the board in the last few years.
“I think the district is in a much better financial situation than it was, in a much better competitive category with other districts than it was [but] it still has room for improvement and making it an attractive district for people to come to,” he said. “That is why I have been looking at making the district whole regarding the [course] compliance issues with the gym and the technology teachers to make sure the students are getting the full academic load they are supposed to be getting...I’m glad we got that into the proposed budget this year.”
Conley said the district has “charted a good course” that has resulted in a “promising outlook financially.” He credits Director of Business and Finance Patrick Witherow and Superintendent Michael Brooks for moving the district in a successful direction.
Conley fully supports the Vision 2020 proposal.
“I walked the schools and heard about all of the deficiencies and there are a lot of things in the proposed Vision 2020 that addresses and maintains our buildings,” he said. “Just like you’d fix a deck at your house of a broken garage door, you have to upkeep the [school] buildings as well.”
Conley said the dropping off of the district’s unaided debt of $1.2 million annually, “and replacing it with 70% of aided debt” makes doing the project now far more attractive from a financial perspective. He said an agreement with Danskammer may also help the district’s bottom line.
Conley is aware that the Marlboro budget is higher than some of the surrounding districts, pointing to two contributing factors; busing some students out of the district and teacher contracts.
“They got a really great contract going on eight years ago or so that in my opinion was unchecked. There were no checks and balances on it and was one of the things that got in the back door,” he said.
Conley believes teachers should be paid well, “but when the contract is so out of whack with neighboring districts, that is what kind of got us in this pickle.” In the last round of contract negotiations the board put in some additional steps to slow the growth of salaries.
“Any increase of any amount is tough on the taxpayer but if the money is being spent properly and wisely for the students and the betterment of the school district, everybody wins in my opinion.” he said. “You have to be smart about it and be fiscally responsible.”