For CCS Board of Education in 5/16/17 election
COMMUNITY OF RESIDENCE: Middlefield
Fayetteville-Manlius Central School, 1986
B.A., Russian and International Relations, Mount Holyoke College, 1990
Master’s, Ph.D., Slavic Literature, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2000
Instructor of Russian Language, Literature, and Humanities at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of South Carolina-Columbia, and Murray State University) (2000-2004)
Senior Technical Writer at Synopsys, Inc. (2004-present)
PTO Secretary (2008-2010)
2nd-grade Reading Enrichment volunteer (2008-09 and 2010-11)
Stroll of Nations Founder (2009-2013)
Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF Coordinator (2010-2011 and 2016)
6th-grade Graduation Breakfast Coordinator (2013 and 2015)
Rotary Exchange Host Family (November 2014-March 2015)
Volunteer for numerous organizations, including PTA, Kid Garden, FOMA, PARP
Member, First Presbyterian Church of Cooperstown
Daisy Girl Scout Leader (2006-2008)
Otsego 2000 Board of Trustees (Secretary 2014-2016; Trustee 2013-2016)
Village Library of Cooperstown Board of Trustees (President 2013-present; Trustee 2011-present)
Co-founder, Middlefield Neighbors
Co-founder, Positive Action Cooperstown
Two children at CCS: Josie Hovis, grade 10, and Ray Hovis, grade 8
Husband George Hovis is a professor of American Literature and Creative Writing at SUNY Oneonta (he just received the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching)
PHILOSOPHY OF EDUCATION:
As a parent, my philosophy can be described simply as “practice what you preach.” Teaching a child by example is often more memorable than a lecture or reading. As a community member, I have also tried to lead by example. Running for school board is very much of a piece with that philosophy, as I believe we all have a responsibility to do service, to the best of our abilities. My abilities happen to be well suited for the School Board, and I am ready to take a more active role, to “practice what I preach.”
MAJOR ISSUES FACING CCS:
- Uncertainty of federal and state education landscape: I am concerned that at the federal and state levels, public education is facing a watershed moment. The President’s current budget guts funding to elementary schools. House Bill 610, if passed, could change public education as we know it by repealing the Elementary & Secondary Education Act of 1965 and establishing a nationwide education voucher program. At the state level, the moratorium on linking standardized test scores to teacher evaluations is slated to end in 2018. In 2015, Governor Cuomo attached a controversial rider to his budget seeking to make standardized test scores count for up to 85% of teacher evaluations. The rider was removed due to strong public outcry, from our district and many others across the state, but this kind of thing could happen again if local school boards do not adequately represent the wishes of their constituents by being adamant in their communications with Albany that we will not support punitive use of unreliable testing data.
- Lack of transparency inhibits community involvement: Locally, our BOE has been doing many good things of late: making great administrative hires, establishing our district as a regional leader in academics and extra-curriculars, and working to save money by expanding shared services with other school districts. CCS is well-positioned to maintain its autonomy if there were to be a situation like a state-mandated merger of rural high schools due to low enrollments. I’m happy with the direction the district is headed, and I’d like to be a part of helping CCS maintain that strength and stay the course during any possible storms to come.
However, I’d like to see more community outreach, with the goal of encouraging more voices to participate at BOE meetings on matters where public input could positively impact outcomes for the entire district. Encouraging preemptive community involvement helps avoid escalations like we have seen with several controversies the Board faced in recent years. A couple of years ago, I made a request that the BOE’s meeting minutes and agendas be published on their website, which they agreed to do. That action has helped to provide more transparency about the activities of the Board and greater engagement with parents and students.
I think the BOE could go even further: instead of asking people to “pull” the documents from their site, the BOE could “push” them to the community via email blasts, in much the same way that the PTA does. Another request I made was to videotape BOE meetings, providing them later on a YouTube channel or the school’s Facebook page, or even broadcasting live via a local-access educational channel, as seen at other school districts.
- Need for forward-thinking facilities management: Recently, the Superintendent discussed the “Smart Schools Initiative” to install a new surveillance system at CCS, and I would encourage him to leverage that project so that the cameras could also broadcast BOE meetings and other school events.
I am also very eager to look for ways in which we as a school community could change our energy consumption habits to leave a better world for our children. Our children learn at school from a young age to “reduce, reuse, recycle,” but the adults in the school system could do a better job of practicing what we preach.I’ve served on the Village Building Committee for the past two years, representing the Library, so I am aware of the alternative energy projects in progress there and the steps involved. Our family has two electric vehicles and a solar array, which, after tax credits and money saved on gas and electricity, have nearly paid for themselves in just a few years’ time. I’d like to take a closer look at the possibility of a discreet start-up solar installation at CCS, and other ways we can potentially save money for the taxpayers at the same time that we reduce the school’s carbon footprint. There are many grant opportunities and tax credits available for such endeavors that need to be explored, and I have the experience and skills necessary to work with the facilities staff at CCS on the project. High school students could also be involved in the research and learn from the installation, giving our students first-hand experience with one of the fastest growing job sectors.
RELEVANT PERSONAL QUALITIES:
I have proven skills and experience in community outreach, budgeting, working with the NYS Department of Education, fundraising, strategic planning, and policy review and implementation. Additionally, I have teaching experience in academic classrooms, which helps me to understand issues facing our faculty. I have worked very hard as Board President of the Village Library, together with my excellent board members. During my tenure, the entire community has benefitted from improvements to the physical plant funded by successful state grant applications, overwhelming public support for a more equitable operational budget stream in the form of a Library tax supporting both the Hartwick and Village Libraries, increased programming for children and adults, and improved communications with the public through social media and other public relations strategies.
I am running for school board because I have a real respect for our teachers and administrators who have devoted themselves to careers in public education, and I’d like use my talents to help them in their endeavor to give Cooperstown children the best education possible.
It is my view that strong local voices are necessary to confront the challenges facing public education – strong local voices in the form of a school board that is responsive to the concerns of teachers, parents, and students, while at the same time making fiscally responsible decisions on behalf of the taxpayers. I have experience that allows me to support the CCS faculty and administration as they cope with the uncertainty in the federal and state education landscape. I also have the necessary research background and skill set to address some of the problems I see in the district: the need for even more transparency in Board communication with the public and the need for forward thinking in our facilities management.
Everyone in the community benefits from an excellent public school. If elected to the school board, I will work hard to make sure that the Board makes every effort to hear all voices and Cooperstown Central School continues to grow and thrive.