Challenger James Mooney has been a Saugerties resident since 1999. He is married with two children in elementary school. He is a social studies teacher in the Kingston City School District, where he has spent the last 20 years working with students at various levels.
What do you think of the current board and its priorities?
I think the priorities of the current board are to keep taxes down. I don’t have any issue with any particular board member. I think the meetings are run expeditiously. I do think there’s a sense of order, but I almost think that there’s no flexibility.
I don’t think they’re talking about the issues that people want to talk about. Everything is rushed, and parents will get up and say things and get shot down. This is your community, these are the people that elected you.
I think the board functions well, but I think it functions well because they’re all of the same mindset, minus two. There are new board members who are learning, and they’re getting publicly dressed down. I think it’s a slap in the face to everyone who voted for them.
Do you feel your approach would be the same or different?
I think we need to have a holistic approach, that the parents, the teachers and the administrators need to come together. These walls, whether they’re perceived or real, people believe that they’re definitely there.
The state has forced so many mandates on the school districts that the principals and administration are trying to do their jobs, and the parents are trying to protect their kids, and it’s clashing. I think it’s forgotten that the kid is the issue here, not the data.
Why are you running?
I’m running because I think that it’s time for new blood. I thank the people on the board now, because they have given their time. It’s a job that people take a lot of lumps doing. I disagree with their approach. I think that being in education and having a background in education, I think I can give a different perspective. I think for the most part, the people on the board, their kids are grown. They’re not dealing with the issues in their kitchen and living room.
Everything is changing so fast. I’m in the middle of it. I’m getting the information as it’s coming in, and having to put it into practice in a classroom. I think that’s an asset. If I can come in with perspective, then that adds to the conversation.
What are your areas of interest?
I think that students need more electives. I have actually collaborated with teachers at Saugerties High School who were teaching similar courses. They’re awesome teachers. There’s a lot of potential.
What is the role of a good School Board trustee as you see it?
Listening to the people. It’s that simple. They need to listen to the community.