It took a little over a week for the Kingston City School District’s Board of Education to officially bounce back after the sudden departure of Matthew McCoy, voting unanimously last week to appoint Danielle Guido to fill the vacant seat.
Guido, who finished in fourth place in the May election — just six votes behind incumbent James Childs for the third and final seat with a total of 1,316 — was planning to try again next year, and if she does, it’ll be as an incumbent rather than a challenger.
“I was very disappointed and immediately knew that I would run again in May of 2015,” Guido said. “It was a great learning experience. The superintendent told me after the loss, ‘You’re supposed to lose the first time. You learn and you come back.’”
For Guido, coming back runs deeper than an annual election cycle. A Kingston native, Guido is a KHS Class of 2001 alum and graduate of Bard College with a degree in psychology; she is currently studying for her masters’ degree in social work at SUNY Albany. Presently a behavioral intervention specialist with Parsons Child and Family Center, an Albany-based multi-services agency focused on children and families with locations throughout the capitol region and the Hudson Valley.
“I work in the homes of emotionally disturbed youth, ages 5-18, who are at risk of being placed in residential treatment facilities,” Guido said. “They’re very mentally ill. I work in the homes, schools and communities to keep them safe and teach them skills in all of those areas.”
The Kingston City School District announced late last month the sudden resignation of McCoy, a former president and vice-president of the school board. Just one year into his third consecutive three-year term, McCoy did not give a reason for his decision, though there was some speculation that his life simply got too busy.
“I think that all of the trustees on the Kingston Board of Education were a little surprised when Matthew McCoy decided to resign,” said Board President Nora Scherer. “However, I know that it is a decision he made only after much soul-searching. The youngest member of the Kingston Board of Education, Mr. McCoy had just completed the first year of his third term on the Board when he tendered his resignation. His plan is to pursue a graduate degree and he felt that he could not work full time, attend school and continue to give 100 percent to the Kingston City School District’s Board of Education. I know that every member of the Kingston School Board respects his decision and wishes him much success in his pursuit.”
The board had a handful of options following McCoy’s resignation, including leaving the seat vacant and calling for a special election. Instead, they voted to appoint Guido, who will serve from the time she’s sworn in at a meeting scheduled for Wednesday, Aug. 20 until the end of the current school year. In May 2015, the seats currently held by trustees Robin Jacobowitz, James Michael and James Shaughnessy, Jr. will be up for election as well. The top three candidates will receive full three-year terms, while the fourth-place finisher will fill out the remainder of McCoy’s term.
A trial basis, in essence
Guido said she understood that the rules governing her appointment meant she will effectively be serving on a trial basis for a year before having to run to hang onto her seat, though that doesn’t mean she’s over the moon about it.
“It’s disappointing, because it takes a while to learn what you’re doing,” she said. “People have said it’s a nice trial, but it’s also more motivation for me to win in May.”
Scherer and the Rev. Childs were re-elected this past May, with newcomer Priscilla Lowe joining them. Scherer earned far and away the most votes, with an unofficial total of 1,851. Lowe was next in line, with 1,357 votes. Childs, with 1,322 votes, was just six votes ahead of Guido. Jolyn Safron (1,088 votes), Richard Altman (1,079 votes) and Steven Spicer (752 votes) were also on the ballot.
Guido was already planning on spending much of the next year attending school board meetings, though she’ll do so on the opposite side of the room sooner than she expected.
“I was very surprised when I got the call asking if I was still interested in the position, as you can imagine,” she said. “I attended the school board meeting last Wednesday when they discussed it, and then they asked me formally and voted on it unanimously. I did tell the district that I couldn’t give them an answer right away, initially, but when they went through the appointment I said yes.”
Guido has already begun signing up for trustee training and is looking forward to hitting the ground running.
“It’s an interesting time of year to be getting on board,” she said. “The school year is just beginning, and it’s exciting to be involved during that time.”
Among the areas Guido said she’d like to focus on during the next year are facilities management and partnering with community resources — the arts community in the region is particularly strong, she added. Additionally, Guido said her career has given her a unique view of some of the challenges faced in education.
“A lot of my professional experience is rooted in getting parents more engaged in the educational system, getting children more engaged in the educational system, and creating productive members of our society in the end,” she said. “A lot of [the children she works with] have difficulty in the schools. It’s given me a different perspective on education.”
Scherer said that she hadn’t had a chance to get to know Guido well, but she expected that will change soon.
“I do know she is enthusiastic about Kingston and about our school district,” Scherer said. “We are eagerly looking forward to her joining our team.”
Scherer’s assessment of Guido’s fondness for the community and the district were apparently correct.
“I went away to school and traveled after college,” Guido said. “I chose to stay in Kingston because I really believe in the area, love the area and I wanted to be more involved. I began to see more and more that the schools are vital to Kingston’s progress.”