NORTH SALEM, N.Y. – Katherine Daniels has lived for 17 years in North Salem, where both her children attend North Salem schools. For more than six years she was an associate attorney specializing in intellectual property at the New York law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. She then became a vice-president and associate general counsel for Hachette Filipacchi Media. She serves on the Executive Committee for the Northern Westchester Energy Advisory Consortium, North Salem’s Comprehensive Planning Committee, the Board of Directors of the North Salem Bridle Trails Association, and is a Warden at St. James Church. She has served on the Board of Education for seven years and is a former president.
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 bring professionalism and a strong commitment to education and public service. I am the mother of two public school children (ages 11 and 13). I have been a member of the North Salem community since 1996.
Professionally, I am an attorney practicing in the areas of intellectual property, media and privacy law. I have extensive transactional and employment law experience.
Considering the current budgetary limitations, what should the Board’s main priorities be?
The Board’s main priority should be to keep the District focused on and committed to its mission – to engage students to continuously learn, question, define and solve problems through critical and creative thinking. North Salem is an innovative, award-winning district on the cutting edge of a new approach to education. Our commitment to this mission is key to our current and future success.
What special challenges are there in the North Salem Central School District and how would you address them?
Declining enrollment is our greatest challenge. We need to figure out the best way to remain committed to our mission and provide our children with the full complement of courses they need to remain competitive for spots at top colleges and universities. I expect our enrollment to trend upwards again sometime in the next 5-10 years, but in the meantime, we have our work cut out for us. We need to think very creatively.
Our second greatest challenge is coping with the costs of unfunded state and federal mandates in a tax levy-capped environment. Not only are we struggling with crushing increases in the cost of the state pension system, but we are now being saddled with extremely expensive new mandates for standardized testing and teacher and principal evaluations. Our challenge is to turn these negative forces against us into positive forces that will enable us to improve.
Is there any particular project or program you’d like to see introduced to the educational system?
I would like to see us introduce world language at the elementary level. I think Americans are at a competitive disadvantage in the global job marketplace because we tend to be fluent in only one language. We studied this a few years ago and it is doable in a small district like ours. Unfortunately, in a levy-capped environment with all the new mandates it may be a while before we can make it happen.
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