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Meet the School Board Candidates 2024

This year there are 2 candidates running for 2 open seats for the Board of Education.

PTO will not be hosting an in person Meet The Candidate Night, but have compiled a list of questions for the candidates. Their answers have been posted below, as well as their bios.

Click the links below to read each candidates bio.

Carlson – The Board has kept teacher retention at the forefront of their discussions all year. The Board’s legal authority is in creating policy and approving expenditures.  So within this area we have approved of decisions to assist in teacher professional development and have encouraged the growth of our teachers in attendance at conferences, use of their choices of curriculum to assist them in the classroom, and time in their school day to work as a team with one another to create an environment of collaboration and growth.  We also have sought out opportunities to congratulate them in their individual professional achievements and hope to do more of this in the coming year.  In conjunction with the superintendent we are striving to create a flexible and supportive work environment that encourages and fosters creativity and growth. All of these efforts will hopefully highlight Hoosic Valley as a place where teachers want to be.  This is an ongoing effort in a very challenging time.

Reilly – Hiring starts with a positive recruitment experience. Our superintendent and administration work to select and interview the best possible candidates. I have served on interview committees where the principal and teachers put the candidate at ease. Inevitably, candidates ask what makes Hoosic Valley a good place to work. I am always so impressed by the responses that teachers give. They speak of our community and the connections they make. They talk about the Schaghticoke Fair and volunteering at the Booster Club Booth. They talk about attending sporting events and the enthusiasm of our families. They speak of the camaraderie they have with their colleagues and the support they receive from their administrators. We can work to attract and retain quality staff by providing a positive culture and an environment where teachers feel valued. We can offer opportunities for growth and build leadership from within. We can provide clear expectations and support for new teachers to ensure their success.

Carlson – These past four years have been full of many challenges and successes and it is difficult to point to one accomplishment. In reviewing the past four years I am the most proud of the relationship we have created with the rest of the school community and the trust I believe we have created between the Board and the school community. The board has, I believe, successfully communicated to teachers and staff that we support them and that they are heard. We have turned around the culture from one of distrust and micromanaging to one where the professionals are doing the work supported by the Board.  The School Board , working with the Superintendent, should be effectively communicating their trust and support to the staff and I feel that we have achieved that. We have done that by listening, remaining flexible and hiring a superintendent who shares that belief in his staff.

Reilly – The most important role of the Board of Education is hiring an effective Superintendent. I was actively involved in the planning and preparation for our Superintendent search. We created a timeline that put us in front of many nearby districts who would also be seeking a new leader and we stuck to that timeline. I was very proud of the process we used and feel that we made the right choice for Hoosic Valley.

Mr. Buhrmaster has proven to be a strong leader. He provides us with important background knowledge when presenting to the board. He has initiated a communications committee and a mascot committee to increase community engagement. He has hired a new business administrator who has, in a short time, found ways to decrease our costs and streamline purchasing processes. He is focused on working with the board and his administration team to improve instructional outcomes for our students.

It is challenging to find strong superintendent candidates, as they are in high demand. The current board
worked productively to achieve that goal.

Carlson – I first must indicate that the assumption here is the writer uses  “tier one” meaning those students not otherwise identified by other specialized educational plans under law.  This is a very real issue at Hoosic Valley, as well as across the state, and the Board has requested discussion of this issue with the superintendent, through the building administrators.  Again the legal role of the Board is one where we approve policies for the school district as well as fiscal expenditures.  Toward that end, and in conjunction with the issue of struggling readers at every level, we have listened to recommendations of programs, testing and theories of curricula that are aimed at addressing this issue.  The Board has approved of spending that includes teacher training in reading, hiring of reading specialists and creating space I the work day for teachers to look at data that identifies the problem and work collaboratively on solutions.  It is an ongoing problem that will not be fixed overnight but it must be the main issue that the school addresses in order to better serve our students. The Board continues to make this one of its primary goals to see an improvement in this area. 

Reilly – It is not the role of a board member to directly address classroom instruction. As a board member I will continue to emphasize the importance of improving instructional outcomes for our students. I expect district goals will be based on instructional leadership and delivery. I will push for consistent communication on the plan, process and progress of the strategies and instructional models deemed to be the most effective by our administrative team. I will also work to acknowledge the hard work of our teacher and administrators and
support their efforts.

Carlson – As stated above the Board is regularly hearing from the Superintendent, through administrators and staff, recommendations for curriculum. Additionally we have approved curriculum coordinators in K-12 to encourage a hard look at the current options and statistics involved with those choices. If the numbers do not show improvement it is important to be able to be flexible and look at alternatives hearing from a wide range of real world examples including students, parents and teachers. The Hoosic Valley staff is aware of the Boards focus in this area and is exploring the most beneficial choices or combination of choices for the greatest success.  Again the Board should not be, nor legally can it, choose curriculum but we can encourage a sound and comprehensive look at it and fiscally approve plans that are supported by sound research.

Reilly – Based on our current reading levels and state scores, I feel that the reading curriculum needs to be reviewed. I am encouraged by the work that is being done to identify and address skills and standards that need to be addressed. I understand that the teachers and principals are educating themselves on The Science of Reading, which is a great direction. We have talented and dedicated teachers who always strive to deliver the best instruction to students.

Carlson – A strength of our school community is the staff we have. We have a staff of teachers and other staff that are here to support our students in meaningful ways and to help them grow and be prepared for a present and future world. This has been shown to me time and again over the past four years with the presentations made to us from teaching staff about extra programs and work they have done with students; teachers and staff who ask for additional clubs and extracurricular opportunities for our students; teachers and administrators who are concerned about those students who are struggling both educationally and socially; and the students themselves who regularly appear at our meetings encouraged by the environment in which they are learning and growing.

As for improvement, our communication is in need of improvement. Communication as a district, as a board to a certain extent and the community at large. I do feel there have been some improvements made in this arena but we have more to do. Some examples of what is being done to accomplish this is the superintendents communication committee.  The membership consists of community members, staff and board members. We are slowly making progress and have begun overhaul of the school website and created a school Facebook page. Improvements are needed in the outreach from the board on the work we are doing, improvements to the viewing of board meetings and highlighting school activities and student and faculty achievements.

Reilly – The greatest strength of the Hoosic Valley community is its people. We have dedicated teachers who connect with their students and families. We also have community members that put in a significant amount of time volunteering to better our school community. Increasing the number of new volunteers would be beneficial. Typically, it is the same people involved in various volunteer roles. We need to recruit more individuals. Most often a lack of involvement is simply the fear of the unknown. A conscious effort to invite and involve people to engage in volunteering would go a long way. My experience has been that once people realize that they can participate in a capacity that they are comfortable with, they are eager to jump in again in the future.

Carlson – I believe much of my answer is included in my response to the above question regarding improvement in communication. We can do a better job as a district of communicating and highlighting our student and faculty achievements as there is much to highlight. Additionally with the new building project we can incorporate the wider community into use of our facilities as well as highlighting and increasing our work with the library systems in our communities. 

Reilly – Raising test scores to the level that represents the Hoosic Valley community is a priority for raising the reputation of our district. State test scores are a snapshot of a district, but they are the snapshot that people tend to see first. Our Regents results should be highlighted. Athletics play a vital role in the reputation of a district, and we are well represented, especially with our consistently successful cross country and track and field programs. Our Odyssey of the Mind program is top notch and is putting us on the map at the state and national level. We should also celebrate the success of our alumni. We have a high graduation rate and students who move on from Hoosic Valley to become successful, productive, responsible adults.

Carlson – These are challenging times in many ways for public education.  Funding in the coming years, we are told, will be challenging. We need to increase our use of shared services and not for profits that support our school community.  Again the libraries have also been a source of support and we will need to continue and increase the use of that relationship.  Additionally our school ”booster” programs such as MAC, the Booster Club and PTO will need improved working relationships in order to continue and grow as a school community.

Reilly – Asset management is important for a school to run efficiently. One asset that jumps to mind that could be viewed as both underutilized and relied on too heavily is technology. There are so many programs being used for assessment, especially at the elementary level, that it must be nearly impossible to do anything well. For example, the list of assessments being used at the elementary level was shared at one board meeting. I recognize the intent to obtain data on student achievement, but I wonder how the teachers learn, implement, and glean information from all assessments without being overwhelmed. Less is more. We need to clear the way for what is most effective and what gives our experts, the teachers, the most valuable information to drive high quality and effective instruction.

There are also programs that are subscribed to or purchased that may not be utilized consistently from year to year. An inventory process and cost benefit analysis must be reviewed each year.

Carlson – There is ownership in all sides of this problem.  As I indicated above I agree that communication is an ongoing concern.  The communication needs to work both ways and we need community members speaking up, sharing concerns in a productive and respectful way which is exactly what I would expect from the board and administration back to the community.  Together we can improve this area. Too often issues or concerns are heard through the community grapevine or anonymously rather than taking the time and effort to contact administration or school or board representatives to genuinely and conscientiously discuss issues. Similarly when we or the district representatives are contacted there must be a priority in responding in a meaningful way. This remains a priority for me.

Reilly -The district is improving communication and making great strides. The communications committee has met throughout the year to gain feedback from community members to formulate a plan. The use of Parent Square has improved the flow of information and as more people become comfortable with that platform it will continue to facilitate communication. Recently, I have noticed an improvement in the information included on our school website. Student and school achievements, along with photos and well written narratives are continuously updated. A new website is being worked on and it was reported at the last board meeting that the communications committee was able to view and provide feedback. There is always room for improvement. The district is aware of the issue and is working to improve.

Carlson – Again as addressed above I believe that highlighting our schools successes must be improved and social media is definitely an area where that can happen.

Reilly – The school Facebook page is in its early stages of implementation. My understanding, from the
communication committee reports, is that the plan was to start by using the Facebook page to share
weekly event information. I expect that the Facebook page will evolve. As I mentioned previously, I feel
the information being shared on the school website has improved significantly and is doing a nice job
highlighting the wonderful things that are happening at our school. We also have very active Booster Club
and PTO Facebook pages that do a nice job promoting our students and school.

Carlson – Student engagement and support is imperative. Students are indeed falling through” the cracks”. Efforts post Covid were especially geared to engage students (ie. Ensuring involvement in extra curricular activities, etc) but it is not only a post-Covid issue. Teachers have more and more demands on them through state regulations and requirements and we cannot ask them to sacrifice educational mandates. We need to create and foster the use of parents and community with our school community. It simply cannot happen without the clear communication and involvement of all of us.

Reilly – The key word in this question is engagement and Hoosic Valley and the surrounding community offers so many opportunities for engagement. Over the past four years it has been the goal of the board of education and the administration to provide extracurricular activities for all students. Students who are involved develop better time management skills and tend to perform better academically. A sense of belonging contributes to strong social emotional health. The district offers and supports three seasons of athletics, a wide variety of clubs: Activity Club, Lego Club, Masterminds, Student Council, Open Gym, and the Hawk Herald to name a few. There are volunteer opportunities throughout our community at HVAA, through Community Partners, and the Food Pantry. There are programs at the Valley Falls and Diver Community libraries. We are not short of opportunities for students to be engaged.

I believe that student engagement starts at home. Parents must encourage and expect their children to
become involved. Volunteering with your child and modeling the benefits of becoming part of a group is the first step of motivating students to reach their full potential. The school provides opportunities, and the family needs to do their part.