Questions for Candidates: Beacon School Board

Although there are no challenges for school board positions in Beacon — there will be four names on the ballot for four seats on the nine-member board — we asked the candidates to share why they are running and what priorities the district needs to address.

Voters also will be asked to approve $76.9 million in spending for 2022-23 and a tax levy increase of 3.7 percent, short of the state-mandated 3.87 percent cap for the district. In addition, the ballot will include measures to allow the district to spend up to $546,000 on buses and to create a capital reserve fund of up to $15 million.

The polls will be open on Tuesday (May 17) from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Voters who reside within city limits vote at Beacon High School. District residents who live in the Town of Fishkill or the Town of Wappinger vote at Glenham Elementary School.

Yunice HeathYunice Heath
Heath is running for her first term.

I am running because, as a Latina, I believe diversity and representation matter, and that the school board should mirror the community it represents. I also work in education, as a disability services counselor at Dutchess Community College, and understand how diversity, equity and inclusion are necessary in public education to ensure every student has the same educational opportunities.

Having three children in the district, I have always supported their schools in some way, and this opportunity would allow me to support in a way that makes a bigger impact for every student in the district.

An issue that has been a hot topic recently is the state of young people’s mental health. Although depression and anxiety amongst teens are not new concerns, these and other mental health conditions have doubled since the pandemic, bringing focus to this mental health crisis. The state of a student’s mental health plays a big role in that student’s ability to learn.

I believe the district understands the importance of providing supports for mental health and wellness, demonstrated by their implementation of Restorative Practices and Talking Circles during the last school year, and more recently by hiring an additional social worker to work with middle and high school students. Normalizing talking about mental health is huge. I’m glad the district is talking about it and finding ways to provide support, and I look forward to helping with the continued efforts.

Meredith HeuerMeredith Heuer
Heuer is seeking her third term.

My involvement with the Beacon City School District began 12 years ago when I became co-chair of the Beacon Arts & Education Foundation. After many years of raising funds to support the students and staff of the BCSD while watching superintendents come and go with little or no transparency around their hiring or firing, I decided to run for school board to see if I could help to stabilize the district.

I am proud of the changes we have been able to make in the last six years, including having the same superintendent in place for the last five years, hiring more teachers at the elementary level to keep class sizes small, starting band a year earlier, implementing a 1:1 Chromebook program (crucial during the pandemic!) and expanding offerings at the high school.

If re-elected, my goals are to continue to support our superintendent to implement our board goals: excellence and equity in our curriculum and a strong culture of care in our school climate, transparent communication with our families and staff and fiscal responsibility around our budgeting process, all through the lens of sustainability.

Alena KushAlena Kush
Kush is running for her first term.

My reason for running is simple: I want to play an active role in the community where I live and where my children and their friends are educated. I do not see many African American women represented in leadership within the district, and I want to show my two daughters, the community and other individuals of color that although we may not see people who look like us, that does not mean we cannot go out and be a part of the institutions where changes can be made.

As a member of the community, I have had the opportunity to serve as president on the PTO board at Rombout Middle School. Being in this role has sparked my desire to continue to be a part of the growth of my community, and its educational system, which I believe only has an upward trajectory.

I tend to look at the whole picture and try to put myself in the shoes of the individual that is seeking my help, support or guidance. I am not a person who makes rash decisions in isolation, but I work with my group to make equitable decisions.

One area that the district needs to continue to address is diversity, equity and inclusion within our teachers, staff and the programs that are offered in our schools, as well as in our community. Beacon is a remarkably diverse community, and I would like to see this diversity reflected throughout the building and in the classrooms, while focusing on equity and inclusion for all.

I would say communication with families and members of the community has been successful for the district. Communication is one of the goals adopted by the board for this academic year: “The BCSD will build trust and community through open, responsive communication, outreach and dialogue with all stakeholders.” I believe the district has committed to this goal. However, I would like to continue and increase the area of communication with our parents and guardians. I believe the relationship between parents and guardians and the district play a vital role in our student’s success and the best way to continue to build this relationship is through trust and active communication.

Antony TsengAntony Tseng
Tseng is seeking his third term.

I would like to continue to serve the public as a trustee. Living in Beacon for more than two decades, as well as having two children graduate in Beacon, there is no question how important our schools are to our community.

I hope to encourage more collaboration with our community, including wider communications, mentorships and creating career-ready experiences, to improve student achievements. I would also like to ensure that we are not disenfranchising parts of our community. I am a firm believer that there is strength in diversity. At some point, I would like to see more collaborative opportunities of the school district with the library and municipal governments.

I believe challenging our limited resources to create more opportunities for our students will help prepare our students for the future. The investments in professional development and leadership will also benefit our students for years to come. An annual science fair and an annual engineering challenge would be a great opportunity to foster innovation in the schools and our community.

One thought on “Questions for Candidates: Beacon School Board

  1. Very impressive line-up of candidates. Thank you so much for your generous commitments and putting our students first.

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