POTSDAM - A former member of the board of education is looking to serve on the board for a third time, bringing her more than a dozen years of experience back to the table.
I have been a member of the Potsdam Central School Board of Education for over 10 years, Ann M. Carvill, who served on the board from 1991-1997 and again from 2005-2011, said. This enabled me to learn an enormous amount about school governance, policy, budgeting, oversight of capital projects, etc.
Prior to serving on the board, Ms. Carvill also taught in the Colton-Pierrepont Central School District for more than 10 years.
I taught grades 3-12 for over a decade and had this range of students most years. It was illuminating to watch the developmental changes from grade to grade, she said. I administered and graded NYC mandated writing and reading tests for many years.
And although, Ms. Carvill ended her teaching career following the birth of her children, her work with the communitys children did not stop.
I was a drama club director for grades three through six for six years, she said. The students performed abridged versions of Shakespearean plays each year ,and I learned the importance of guiding students to the point where they take center stage and become completely independent from my oversight.
Ms. Carvill said her decision to run again was prompted by a belief she has held for many years.
It is the obligation of our generation to provide the next generation with the best education possible, she said. An educated populace is essential for the future well-being and prosperity of our country.
As for how that education is delivered in the future, many people think school mergers and or the creation of regional schools is the answer.
There is no question mergers will occur. Finances will dictate it, she said, adding mergers arent as easy as simply closing one small school and sending its students to a larger one.
Many districts cover a wide geographic region and this makes transportation a huge problem. We adults need to decide just how long it is fair to keep students on buses to transport them to school, she said.
Ms. Carvill also said its important for politicians in Albany to realize upstate schools are drastically different than their downstate counterparts.
Politicians in Albany need to realize that rural districts in the north country face serious obstacles when considering consolidations and mergers, she said, adding she sees Potsdam as the potential host of a regional high school.
Whether or not this occurs will depend on how New York state funds education. Cuts to education funding combined with skyrocketing costs of health insurance and pensions are leading schools into precarious financial terrain, she said. I believe my experience as a board of education member will be an asset to our district as it faces important planning and decision making.
One of those important decisions again next year will likely be whether or not to override the tax cap, something the board decided to do this year.
Had Ms. Carvill been on the board, she said thats a decision she would not have supported.
I would have supported using some of the millions in fund balance to stay within the tax cap, she said. Ninety-two percent of districts in New York state were able to do so. Now we need a super-majority to pass the budget. The risk was not prudent, she said.
Should Ms. Carvill be elected she said she has several goals including responsible fiscal oversight, offering students the best education possible, proper oversight of the new teacher and principal evaluation system, improving communication between the school district and parents/community, as well as a commitment to hiring the best teachers possible.
Money drives what we are able to offer students and employees, she said, adding her experience on the audit committee would also be valuable to the board.
In regards to her second goal she said, This cannot happen if we continue to lay off teachers and support staff. Doing something to stem the tide of laying off employees involves having strong fiscal knowledge of school district operations and having the courage of ones convictions.
When it comes to evaluations, Ms. Carvill said she will work to ensure that state mandated tests, which will count in the evaluations, are reliable.
To improve communications, Ms. Carvill said she would be willing to meet with the Parent Teacher Student Association and other community groups to help keep them up to date on school matters.
And to help hire the best teachers, possible, Ms. Carvill said the process must be de-politicized.
One way to do that, she said would be hire administrators, when vacancies occur, who realize this is one of their central obligations.
As a child, Ms. Carvill emigrated to the U.S. from Ireland with her family, attending school in Long Island before earning a bachelors degree at SUNY Potsdam. Her masters work began at Syracuse University and ended at SUNY Potsdam.
Ms. Carvill, who lives just outside the village, currently works as a bookkeeper for her husbands dental practice.