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New Scotland Archives The Altamont Enterprise, April 19, 2012
By Anne Hayden
VOORHEESVILLE Diana Straut is making her first run for school board because, she said, she has “seen the district from several angles as a parent,” and she wants to bring her experiences as a teacher and a school consultant to the table.
Straut has three sons in the Voorheesville School District one each in fourth, seventh, and ninth grades.
“They are very different, which is one of the things I think helps me understand the district better,” said Straut. Her sons are involved in sports, theater, and other extracurricular activities.
Straut grew up in Glens Falls, and was an elementary-school teacher in the East Greenbush School District.
“I left teaching because I was trying to understand how to make changes at schools, and I felt like I couldn’t do it from the classroom,” she said.
Straut went to graduate school, where she studied organizational change. After completing her degree, she worked as a consultant for school districts across New York State.
“I was trying to find better ways of doing things,” she said. She was involved in collective bargaining agreements, district re-organization, and other issues, in urban, rural, and suburban schools.
Straut and her family have been living in Voorheesville since 2002, and she currently works as a consultant in local schools and as an adjunct professor at The College of Saint Rose, in the education department.
“I have thought about running for the school board for years, and people have encouraged me, but I have always felt like I didn’t have the time; I think the time is right now,” Straut said. She has worked on the Parent Teacher-Association, and on the Site-Based Management Team at the elementary school, organized Odyssey of the Mind, and worked on the yearbook.
As a former teacher, Straut, said she is sensitive to cuts that come really close to the classroom, but feels that what is most important is to listen to the voices in the community.
“I think the budget is the thing I need to focus on the most,” she said. “Before I take a position on it, I want to get a feel for people in the community.”
“I know that sometimes cuts have to be made, and I know that you have to weigh what has the greatest impact against what will cause you the least harm in the long run,” said Straut. She said she was most sensitive to class sizes, and kids with disabilities.
In order to build a budget that remains under the tax-levy cap, Straut said she was interested in “creative funding.”
“We could look at other ways to raise funds and different ways to configure classrooms, which is something the district hasn’t done a lot of yet,” she said.
In terms of going over the tax-levy cap and getting 60 percent or more of the voters to approve a budget, Straut said she would need to get out and listen to the community.
“You’ll find people who are supportive of all different things it is a voter-driven process,” she said.
Straut said she didn’t have much to say, from a parent’s perspective, about full-day kindergarten. Her sons attended the half-day kindergarten program at Voorheesville, which she said she felt prepared them well for the transition to elementary school.
“I’d want to see long-term projections on the benefits of the full day,” she said. “I’d also need a really good survey of the community; I know there was a survey done, but I’d like to see a more reliable one.”
“When I look at Voorheesville, I think there are things we can get better at,” said Straut. She wants to look at a wider-ranging enrichment model.
“I’d like to work with teachers to support a model like that, so we can reach every kid where they are,” she said.
“I want people to know that, while I’m not an expert in everything, when I make a decision, I always do it with as much information and as many resources are available to me,” concluded Straut. “And, I always let people know how I arrived at my decision.”
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