On May 20, voters will decide the fate of the $57.4 million spending plan and select four candidates for six open seats on the School Board. Here are interviews with three of the candidates. The other three will run next week.
Krista Barringer, 44, originally from Kingston, moved to Saugerties in 1997. She is the deputy clerk for the Ulster County Legislature and has worked as the director of the Ulster County Youth Bureau and as the Ulster County liaison for state Sen. Bonacic’s office. Barringer is the mother to three children: one in elementary school, one in junior high, and one in the high school. This is her first time running for the School Board.
Why are you running for office?
There’s a lot of mandates coming down both federally and from the state that I’d like, if we can, to be in front of and not wait and have to respond after. This isn’t a critique of the current board at all. I think they’re doing a really good job, but I feel like I have an expertise here.
What do you think of the current board and its priorities?
I give them a lot of credit. I feel like they’ve worked really hard to keep a low increase to our tax levy. I see that as their number one priority. But it goes back to policies. The budget should come after policies, taking that time to look at policies and what works. I don’t necessarily see that as a priority.
In February, we all know that the board brought up that with the declining enrollment numbers we should look again at the possibility of closing an elementary school. This goes back to why I’m running. Every single time that comes up, it’s not said, but the picture that gets put out there is Mount Marion. And right now there’s not one parent serving that lives in the Mount Marion school district. I feel like if you’re going to have an honest discussion there should be representation. When we talk about reviewing things, Mount Marion and Cahill are the two Title 1 schools. If you’re talking about redistricting, how do you redistrict to maintain that designation and keep that revenue?
What are your particular areas of interest?
It often comes down to the dollar, but sometimes there’s creativity happening in our schools that doesn’t involve the dollar. How can we help support that, because sometimes the creativity and innovation might be limited based on a policy. So how can we help bring creativity and innovation through policy? For every generation, their world is different and technology is different.
At the same time, there are core things we’ve been doing for a long time that work. Let’s give teachers the ability to do what works. The three Rs. That works.
What is the role of a good School Board trustee as you see it?
First and foremost is listening. I know so many parents who have concerns that they want to express and they want to be heard. It doesn’t mean we’ll be able to, in a very short period of time, resolve their concerns. But when the concerns are valid, the concerns should be heard.
A good School Board member is planning for the future. Not looking at the graduates of today, but the kindergarteners of that year. The reality is the kindergarteners of today, their jobs haven’t even been developed yet. That is where, when we’re talking about planning, we should be looking.