Proud to be a Board of Education Member

As Board of Education members, we are often confronted with questions about Board service. Those questions are best summarized with the following:

  • “What do you do besides attend Board meetings?”
  • “How is Board of Education service rewarding?”

The simplicity of the questions belies their depth and complexity. You see, many in our Pittsford community – through no fault of their own – may not fully understand the role of the Board of Education. Still others may not fully grasp the dozens of ways in which we try to embed ourselves in the academic, extracurricular, and operational life of Pittsford Central School District.

If we’re to be honest, that’s on us. And it’s also the driving force behind the Board Action article you’re reading. The Board Action concept arose out of our annual Board of Education self-evaluation and goal-setting exercise – a rigorous “performance review” that demands self-reflection, honesty, and trust. One example of a Board of Education initiative stemming from our annual self-evaluation was the creation of our Pittsford Pride recognition award. After reaching out to student focus groups, the collective response reflected the sentiment that every student could choose to be a “good person” but they could not necessarily choose to be a good musician, athlete, mathematician, etc. To that end, the Board of Education now formally recognizes outstanding citizenship during board meetings throughout the year. For the 2017-2018 school year, we identified two areas for renewed focus and attention: Communication and Visibility. To that end, this month’s Board Action article focuses on the many activities in which our Board of Education is engaged.

Attendance and participation at Board of Education meetings, including the review of the 100- to 200-page information packet prior to each Board of Education meeting, barely scratches the surface of the Board of Education role. In fact, these meetings represent only a small number of the important meetings we attend. For example, three members comprise the District’s Audit Oversight Committee; one member sits on the Teacher Center Policy Board; two members contribute to the District Advocacy Steering Committee (where fighting for Full Day Kindergarten funding is our current focus); and our Board of Education President and Vice President join Superintendent Pero on the School/Town/Village Leadership Committee, at which the sharing of community resources is often a discussion topic.

In pursuit of continuous learning, advocacy, and information sharing, we participate in Board workshops, retreats, and a variety of training seminars that address Finance, Diversity & Inclusion, and Board Governance issues. Each of our seven Board of Education members sits on one or more Monroe County School Boards Association committees. In fact, a Pittsford Board of Education member co-chairs three such committees: Legislative, Labor, and Communications Outreach. In addition, some Board of Education members sit on the Executive, Board Presidents, and Steering committees. Our efforts are paying dividends; thanks in part to Pittsford’s involvement, MCSBA’s advocacy efforts are highly regarded across the state, especially in Albany.

Fundamental to every student’s educational experience is academics. Throughout the year, Board of Education members can be seen in all school buildings, as well as in a variety of classes and labs. We eagerly submit ourselves to student interviews in Government classes. We learn computer programming from Thornell Road Elementary School students during the annual “Hour of Code.” We watch in awe as students create complex structures using a 3D printer. And we experience the simultaneous collaborative and competitive spirit of our students in DECA, Odyssey of the Mind, Unified Basketball, and Robotics competitions (among so many more!).

Theatrical productions, art shows, choral and musical concerts, and other athletic events remain tremendous draws for Board of Education and community members alike. Though our own athletic skills and artistic grace may have faded, re-living such high school memories vicariously through our extremely talented students is an extraordinary experience!

We are highly vested in supporting an environment where all students and community members feel welcomed, safe, validated, and cared for as they enter our buildings. The work around diversity and inclusion is ongoing, and we are excited to work in tandem with our parents and school community while addressing this very important topic.

As stewards of the District property and equipment, we tour each school building every year. These 7:00 a.m. tours allow us to see “up close and personal” the community’s investment in our facilities. Review of boiler rooms, the bus and maintenance garage, sub-ground-level examination of pools, and assessment of individual classrooms all receive our attention. These tours support our appreciation of these complex issues and guide our thinking throughout the year, particularly at budget time. Each tour is followed by a visit with the building’s administration and staff, providing valuable 1:1 time with educators at all grade levels.

Vital to our District’s continued success is the devotion demonstrated by our teachers and staff. September’s thrilling Day One kick-off to the school year is a dynamic, can’t-miss event; as is the annual Tenure Reception, which gives Board members and tenure recipients the opportunity to confirm one’s trust in the other. And, as each school year draws to a close, Board members are on hand to bid heartfelt “thanks and farewell” to our District’s retirees at the springtime Pittsford District Teachers Association Reception.

Without question, the highlight and culminating events of every school year are our Mendon and Sutherland Commencement ceremonies. Like the parents, families, and friends who fill the RIT Field House, we Board of Education members join in celebrating our graduates’ many achievements and the bright futures ahead. Though we see the fruits of our “labor” throughout the school year in so many ways, there’s no reward quite like the front-row seat we enjoy as each graduate walks the stage to receive their hard earned diploma.

So, in answer to the questions offered at the top, we remain completely invested in our commitment to “do what’s best for kids.” We do so out of a love of service and a passion for our community. “Virtue,” it is said, “has its own reward.” The same can be said of Board service.

Wishing you the happiest of holiday seasons!

PCSD Board of Education

Amy J. Thomas, President

Kim McCluski, Vice President

Ted Aroesty

Valerie Baum

Rene Sanchez-Kazacos

Irene Narotsky

Peter Sullivan