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Nyack School Board Closing Argument: James Marshall

by James Marshall

In March of this year [2020] I was hospitalized with a severe case of COVID-19. At one point, I was not sure I was going to make it.  After a turn for the better, I did make a personal commitment to pay it forward. A new appreciation for life has made me focus more and more on what matters. My family means everything to me more than ever. So does serving our community as a member of the Nyack School Board.

A Board “Trustee,” as the name implies, is more than a “title.”  It is a huge responsibility to the students, staff, and community to ensure the very best in education is achieved.

Some of the many accomplishments I am most proud of in my 9 years on the School Board are:

  • Championed ALL the Equity Initiatives, including hiring our Equity Consultant and our District Office of Equity Director
  • Co-Chaired the revision of District Co-Curricular policy
  • Drove impact of improvements among English Language Learners and Special Ed. population
  • Led implementation of college tours for HS and MS students
  • Promoted Restorative Justice Practices at the MS and HS as alternatives to suspension & anti-bullying
  • Implemented Plan for a Director of Guidance Office
  • SOAR Middle school mentor
  • Co-Chair of the YMCA SUITS mentorship team

There are 3 important things I want voters to understand:

  1. Vote for the Budget.  Understand that the budget is a “moral document.” Why?  Because it reflects our values and principles. Understand that any budget reflects what your school district and community values as important. The #1 priority is a high-quality education for our children which can be accomplished if the budget passes.  Vote ‘Yes’.
  2. This is not a game.  Recalling a comment in the documentary Becoming, Michelle Obama said at one point (referring to voters who stayed home), “This is not a game.” We all must realize that there are high stakes, important issues and decisions facing our school district in the coming year, top of mind being the opening of school, executing on our Equity Plan, and the hire of the next superintendent. My strong record of addressing important issues has allowed the district to move forward unimpeded by external and internal agendas. Experience and expertise will matter more in the coming year.  It is not a game.
  3. Support a continuity of service. Board members must be prepared every day to work on behalf of ALL our students–not sit on the sidelines. The hallmark of service is collaboration, consensus building, and working together to achieve the district’s mission for ALL.

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At our Feb 4th board meeting, Superintendent James Montesano spoke on the need for a Racial Equity Lens training for all board members, citing a concern a board member raised regarding special ed. students:

“The primary reason in this particular district that we are focused on a Racial Equity Lens is that when we disaggregate data across every spectrum including special ed., we continue to see that the students who are doing ‘less well’  in the district are, in fact, students of color. Those are the students in the public educational program that [we] are not meeting those needs. In addition, when you attend the Undoing Racism Workshop and you continue working at this, when you look at the principles of the Structural Analysis, it really does cover all of the ‘isms’[ including special ed. student]s.” 

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Your vote for me is a vote for experience, commitment, and contribution. Voters can count on me every day to consistently work on behalf of every student through an Equity Lens. While the future is uncertain, you can be confident in the fact that your children, faculty, and community will continue to be served extraordinarily well with equity. Vote #5 on the ballot.  Please vote to support the budget by mailing in your ballot before June 9th. THANK YOU!

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