NORTH SALEM, N.Y. – Deborah D’Agostino has lived in North Salem for 25 years. Her son and daughter both attended North Salem schools. For a number of years she has been a self-employed entrepreneur. D’Agostino is currently serving as president of the Board of Education and hopes to continue filling the important role of board member.
What would you bring to the Board, based upon your life experience as a parent or community member, or in your occupation or profession?
I believe my children have been well served by our school district and I wish to insure that a high quality education continues to be available for the young people in our community.
As an entrepreneur I understand the importance of controlling costs – the need to do more with less. In todays’ tax cap environment, this understanding is critical for school board members. During the last three years I have balanced my concern for our students with my concern for taxpayers. I have been a good steward of public funds and have been happy to support budgets which comply with the tax-levy cap while maintaining current programs and small class sizes.
Considering the current budgetary limitations, what should the Board’s main priorities be?
We must focus on the basics. We have to prepare our students to meet Common Core standards and to excel in the variety of standardized tests which are used to measure learning. Luckily, we have adopted a Mission which is consistent with excellence.
During my time on the board, I have seen our faculty and staff work hard to integrate new standards with our ongoing focus on critical and creative thinking. I believe that is the right approach so, as a board member, my priority will be to continue to support this mission. To me, it is important that we are “teaching our kids to think” not “teaching our kids to test”.
What special challenges are there in the North Salem Central School District and how would you address them?
One of our key benefits – our size – is also our biggest challenge. Larger districts are able to offer a greater variety of courses and extra-curricular activities. Additionally, larger districts are able to spread their overhead costs among a larger student base. We need to be creative in our response to the challenge of size.
For example, we can expand our use of BOCES services to mitigate overhead costs. We currently share sports teams with John Jay and Somers and I believe we can explore new opportunities for multi-district after-school programs.
Finally, we need to continue to be creative in our course scheduling. Combining classes, having teachers who are able to teach multiple subjects and using part-time faculty are all strategies which allow us to “do more with less.”
Is there any particular project or program you’d like to see introduced to the educational system?
Technology offers wonderful opportunities to address some the challenges inherent in our size. But, at this time there are a variety of budgetary, regulatory and logistic barriers to fully utilizing technology for education. I look forward to continuing to work with our Technology Committee to make the best use of our resources. I am excited by the ways in which we are integrating technology into our mission-based approach to learning. In the future, I would like to see us incorporate even more online learning into our schools and I will work to remove the barriers.
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