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Hubbard seeking board seat at his alma mater

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POTSDAM - James Hubbard graduated from Potsdam Central School in 1993 and since the economic crisis hit several years agohe says he’s been pained by witnessing the impact the state’s fiscal crunch has had on his alma mater.

“I have always had a personal interest in the state of affairs of the Potsdam Central School District,” he said. “During this time of economic crisis, budget cuts and reduced state funding, I feel I can no longer be just an observer in these matters.”

And while Mr. Hubbard may not have the prior board experience that many of this year’s other candidates have, he said that’s not a bad thing.

“I have experience working for the federal government and the state government at SUNY Potsdam, and I understand the financial issues faced by the school board. It is my hope to share my knowledge in these matters and provide fresh ideas and a fresh perspective on the issues at hand,” he said.

The “do more with less” philosophy schools are currently being forced to live by is something that Mr. Hubbard said he’s very familiar with.

“I have dealt with budgetary issues in my position with the state. It is currently a commonplace practice to do more with less and become creative with funding that may or may not be available in the future,” Mr. Hubbard said. “It is imperative to maintain our current level of excellence in academics despite state ordered cuts and mandates.”

While some people believe that merging districts or creating regional schools is the answer to their financial problems, Mr. Hubbard is not one of them.

“I do not agree with the idea of a school merger,” he said. “Resources in our schools are already spread too thin. By combining schools we would be negatively manipulating the student to teacher ratio.”

Mr. Hubbard did say he realized there could be money saved, but in his eyes the price students would pay just isn’t worth it.

“Our students deserve to have a well-rounded educational experience that comes from a close working relationship between the teacher and students,” he said. “By merging schools we would be saving money on certain services, but decreasing the effectiveness of others.”

Mr. Hubbard said the key to improving the district’s financial situation is becoming more self-sufficient.

“Things such as self-sufficiency in energy and maintenance are areas we need to explore. Universities supplement costs by implementing energy saving procedures. Why not our schools?” he asked.

As for trying to keep up with technology, he said grants and donations could help in that area.

“Keeping our students competitive in the world of electronics and computing can be done by proactively seeking out education grants and donations, easing the financial burden of our school district without lessening its effectiveness,” he said. “It will take a lot of hard work on the part of the board and the school administrators, but it will be worth it in the end.”

That being said, Mr. Hubbard acknowledged crafting budgets is not easy.

“I think as always the budget is extremely tricky,” he said. “Trying not to cut necessities, while losing state funding causes those with the power to change things and to be extremely creative in their approach. I feel that simply cutting programs and resources is not the correct way to guarantee that the students and employees continue to operate at the level of academic excellence that the Potsdam Central School district is known for.”

Should he be elected to the board, Mr. Hubbard said he would advocated changed to the district’s homework grading policy.

“This policy is not an accurate method of gauging a student’s understanding of the subject matter,” he said. “By allowing students who choose not to complete an assignment to receive a minimum grade of 50 there is no incentive for them to attempt the assignment if they feel it is too difficult, nor is it fair to those who have put forth the effort.”

In addition to being unfair to students who work, Mr. Hubbard said the policy does not adequately prepare students for the future.

“This policy does not help to prepare our students for higher education or certificate programs,” he said. “It is giving them a crutch to lean on, rather than encouraging them to do their best. We should be striving to give our students an advantage later in life, not put them at a disadvantage.”

Following high school, Mr. Hubbard, who works in the library at SUNY Potsdam and serves as the technology coordinator, enlisted in the Navy, later graduating from SUNY Potsdam with a bachelor’s degree in Politics. Mr. Hubbard also attended grad school taking English Communications classes.

He resides in the village.

“I do not have children, which I feel speaks to the fact that if elected I clearly have no ulterior motive or personal agenda beyond considering what is best for the students, faculty and staff in the Potsdam Central School District.”

Mr. Hubbard is one of six candidates seeking three seats on the board. He’ll be joined on the ballot by incumbent J. Patrick Turbett, as well as Danielle L. Gray, Sandra D. Morris, Ann M. Carvill and Mary Ashley Carroll.

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