This year’s election for the Pine Bush Board of Education will see incumbents Cara Robertson and Kristi Kheiralla and challenger Tasha T. Butler vie for two open seats.
Those elected will serve three-year terms, commencing July 1, 2020 and ending June 30, 2023. The governor’s executive order called for districts to send each qualified voter a postcard with the date of the board of education election, the date of the district’s budget hearing and the definition of a qualified voter.
All voters received an absentee ballot. There will be no in-person voting for the 2020 school board and budget election. Ballots must be received at the district office by 5 p.m. on June 9. If a qualified voter did not receive a ballot in the mail by May 22, they should contact their district’s clerk.
Robertson is currently in her second term on the Board of Education and serves as its vice president. She is a retired self-employed school bus contractor. Robertson is also a member of the district’s Audit Committee and the All Night Graduation Party Committee. She has two children in the district.
Robertson is proud of her contributions to developing the district’s budget for the 2020-2021 school year. She is proud of the way the district responded to closings caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Teachers, administrators and staff designed online programs for students, assisting anyone in need.
She added that the board’s top priority is getting through the COVID-19 pandemic and having students and teachers return to in-person learning. In addition, Robertson looks forward to starting the district’s capital project if she is elected again.
“This is my third term running for the Pine Bush Board of Education,” she said. “Our district has a team of administrators and teachers that work so hard for our students.”
Kheiralla is currently in her first term on the Board. She holds a nursing degree from St. Luke’s School of Nursing in Fountain Hill, Pennsylvania, from which she was the class valedictorian. She has worked as a registered nurse at Lenox Hill Hospital and the Hospital for Special Surgery and is currently a stay-at-home mom. She has two children attending school in the district.
This year she helped pare down the original proposal for next school year’s budget in anticipation of economic hardship. If elected again, she will listen carefully to all options in order to make fiscally responsible decisions that would give students the best education possible.
If she is brought on for a second term, Kheiralla will pay close attention to the policies and procedures regarding the remediation and review that students will require when in-person learning returns. If elected again, she hopes to continue working on the district’s Strategic Plan, which aims to move the district into a more integrated, inclusive curriculum. In addition, she hopes to carry on with the upgrades outlined in the district’s Capital Improvement Project.
“My hope is to be a part of the team that facilitates a safe and successful reopening of our schools,” she said. “Also, I will continue to strive for more complete and transparent communication between the district and the community.”
Kheiralla views the safety and security of students and staff as the Board of Education’s top priority. She noted that the district’s fiscal responsibility to its taxpayers is a close second.
Butler is running for a seat on the Board of Education for the first time. She currently serves on the district’s Audit Committee. For over four years she has worked as a human resources director in Sullivan County, overseeing about 4,500 staff members. In the past, she also taught in the Enlarged City School District of Middletown. Butler has one daughter attending school in the district. Her eldest daughter graduated from Pine Bush High School in 2016.
If elected, Butler would help the board gather data on the learning gap that was caused for students by remote learning. She believes that gathering input from students, their families, teachers and administrators would be the best way to determine how to fill that gap.
“As the saying goes, it takes a village to raise a child,” she said. “The village will need to stick together and brainstorm ways to effectively close any learning gaps and come up with the best plan to accomplish this.”
Butler is interested in running for the school board so she could contribute her unique talents and passion for education. She hopes to be an effective contributing member of the board of education by assisting with setting policies that will be effective for children and the school.
“I believe I have sound judgement, a willingness to collaborate and a sincere interest in public education in this community,” Butler said. “I do believe the leadership skills and educational background I have attained throughout my professional career would be beneficial in the role of a school board member.”
She believes the board’s top priorities are to set and carry out the vision and goals for the district while paying close attention to the district’s priorities for academic achievement. Butler also noted that adopting policies that give the district direction to set priorities and achieve its goals, adopting and overseeing the annual budget and evaluating the superintendent are of paramount importance.