“School Boards Lead so Students Can Achieve” is the theme of the New York State School Boards Association’s 2021 School Board Recognition Week (October 18-22).
“The South Orangetown Central School District is fortunate to have a board of education that prioritizes the educational needs of our students,” noted Superintendent of Schools Robert Pritchard, Ed.D. “This is the guiding principle in all the work that they do – from developing and adopting policies to providing stewardship over the financial condition of the school district. Being a school board member can be demanding at times and we honor their service during School Board Recognition Week to express our gratitude.”
Boards of education are responsible for governance of their local school districts and ensure that public schools are responsive to changing student needs and college and career demands. School boards are composed of publicly-elected volunteers who dedicate countless hours each year to improving public education for their communities.
In South Orangetown, the school board is composed of five members who are each elected to unpaid, three-year terms. Elections are held statewide on the third Tuesday of May.
During our school board’s annual reorganization meeting each July, those elected to seats in May are officially sworn in and members vote on their leadership positions. Current SOCSD school board members are Leon Jacobs (President), Dan Lamadrid (Vice President), Christine Lee, Cara Stepanian, Ph.D., and Dana Stilley, Ph.D. Board member bios are posted on the District’s Meet the Board webpage.
In honor of School Board Recognition Week, we asked our board members to share what motivated them to serve, the most important aspects of their role and their hopes for our District. Here’s what they said:
“My reason for running was simply to give back to my community. At the time, I recently retired and had the time to commit to the board. I am proud to bring a diverse perspective from my own experience as an immigrant and my global experience from 35 years in the corporate sector,” said Lee. “The board’s role is to provide oversight, policy, hire and review the superintendent and approve budgets; it’s not to run the district. Our responsibilities are leadership, not task, focused. As a board member, it is important to consider how our work impacts students and student achievement. We have a very good district and provide excellent education to our students. However, we can always do better and my hope is that we continually improve. With the district’s strategic goals, mission statement and guiding principles, we have a strong foundation to get us there. Additionally, I hope our district continues to incorporate diverse perspectives and continue to add more employees that reflect the diversity of our nation.”
“As someone who attended K-12 in our district, I have a special love and sense of devotion to South Orangetown. When the opportunity to run and serve arose, I jumped at the chance to contribute my educational expertise and professional skills to continue moving this district forward in these ever-changing and sometimes challenging times,” Stilley noted. “’School Boards Lead So Students Can Achieve’ means that school boards provide the leadership, governance and guidance to dismantle all barriers and challenges that may prohibit each and every student from achieving all that they can. One of the most important facets of my role as a board member is ensuring that our curriculum represents the diversity of our student body and our community.”
Thank you to our entire Board of Education!