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Nyack School Board Closing Argument: Beth Davidson

The School Board Trustee election is being held by mail. You can drop off your ballot at the district office by June 9 (13A Dickinson Ave, Nyack, NY) or mail them in (ballots must be received June 16). Anyone who has lost or not received a ballot can reach out to Linda DeCicco ( to arrange to receive a ballot.

Every election at this unprecedented time feels monumentally important. And our School Board election is no different. This is a moment that calls for strong leaders who can make difficult calls, with experience-based knowledge of our diverse community, with the priorities that will support our district’s ongoing mission toward racial equity, and with the foresight to ensure we don’t compromise the standard of academic excellence to which Nyack Public Schools has risen over the last several years.

My parents taught me that 90% of life is showing up—and in my experience working for and with elected officials at every level of government, the same goes for public service. I believe that spending time with our students at sporting events and capstone presentations, with parents at concerts and moving up ceremonies, and with community leaders who work tirelessly to address issues like poverty, substance abuse, food security, LGBTQ rights, and more, has made me a better School Board member.

I ran for School Board because I supported our district’s mission to make equity a priority—and believed I could add a strong voice to that discussion. During my first term, I’ve fought for equity across our three elementary schools while leveraging my connections in the community along with my own work in the nonprofit sector to make a difference on a host of issues, like:

  • Gun violence prevention. Thanks to my work with Sandy Hook Promise, I helped bring Start With Hello and Say Something, both gun violence prevention programs, to our middle and high schools.
  • Sexual harassment prevention. Along with Trustees James Marshall and Jen Marraccino, I partnered with the Center for Safety and Change to pass a new sexual harassment prevention policy with tough accountability measures and a K-12 education initiative.
  • Racial equity. Nyack Public Schools has scaled up our restorative justice programs to lower suspension rates. We’ve released an Excellence Through Equity Plan to realize the district’s goal of eradicating our education deficit, and we’ve hired a director of Equity to oversee its implementation. We’ve hired a diverse, talented cohort of staff. I regularly attend Working Together for Racial Justice (the monthly meetings that continue the Undoing Racism training) to understand community concerns, and I serve on the board of the Soar Mentorship program at the middle school.

Of course, this past Thursday was one of my proudest moments as a Board of Education Trustee when, along with my fellow board members, our Superintendent Dr. James Montesano, and our Director of Equity Dr. Alexandria Connally, we released a statement that our District “affirm[s] without equivocation that Black Lives Matter. And we pledge to confront systemic racism whenever and wherever it occurs in our district.  We also celebrate the courage, commitment, and resilience of our students. We pledge to amplify their cries for equity as we work with all our community partners to ensure that young people of color—along with their families, and our faculty and staff—feel valued and safe in our schools.” 

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None of us knows exactly what the next six months or year or two years hold. What school looks like in the fall—in terms of transportation, health and safety considerations, social distancing in our classrooms, filling any learning gaps that result from this time of extended building closure, and more—is further complicated by the uncertainty of funding from Albany. We’ve already adjusted our budget to reflect the freeze in foundation aid and reduction in overall state aid, and are developing contingency plans to address additional reductions that may occur between July 1 and December 1. Since I’ve joined our board in presenting three tax cap-compliant budgets, I’ve demonstrated the fiscal responsibility this unprecedented time will require.

Along with challenges, we face tremendous opportunities. While distance learning has been difficult for teachers, students and parents alike, I believe we will also discover new opportunities that come with a virtual environment. In addition, Dr. Montesano’s time with us ends about one year from now, and this incoming board will be tasked with identifying and hiring a superintendent who will keep Nyack on our upward trajectory in both equity and excellence.

When it comes to both these challenges, and opportunities, who do you want in the room? If you want a big thinker, a community advocate, and a fighter for our children—even when the going gets tough, especially when it gets tough—I believe I have been that kind of leader for Nyack Public Schools.

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Without question, there have been some vigorous community discussions during the past three years. And not surprisingly given the diversity of our Nyack-Valley Cottage community, not everyone landed on the same side of any issue. But being so involved in this community has helped me learn the right questions to ask, even as I evaluated the data. If there are times when we disagreed, I hope our families believe I took my position seriously, came to decisions through research and active listening, and felt heard.

This has also been a challenging election, because we couldn’t visit and talk face-to-face with our constituents as I certainly would any other year. So I think when folks weigh their votes, you simply have to ask yourself who’s proven they’re ready to do the work, who puts serious thought and community input behind every decision, and who will fight for every child in our diverse district.

I say it to people all the time: Nyack’s star is on the rise. This is not the time to roll back our progress or lose sight of our equity goals. I hope to earn your vote and the chance to represent your families for another three years!

See also:

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