Statement from SCSD Board Candidate Matthew Kern

Statement from SCSD Board Candidate Matthew Kern

HomeTown NewsNet has invited all candidates running to be on the Suffern Central School District Board to send in bios and information.  We do not endorse or oppose candidates in this race.  

As many of you know, I have been a member of the Suffern Central Board of Education for the past three years and am running for re-election this Spring. I am a business owner in Rockland and Westchester, having left the corporate world in 2018 after nearly 15 years as Supply Chain Director for a two billion dollar packaging and manufacturing company. My oldest daughter attends Suffern Middle School and plays on several sports teams. At Montebello Elementary, my son is in the second year of his elementary experience and my second daughter has excelled in our wonderful music program as she prepares to join her sister at the Middle School next year. My children have become more involved in the outstanding extra-curricular activities our district offers, which represents what makes our district special – it’s those opportunities, in addition to our extraordinary academics, that draw families to Suffern Central.

 

With our current President opting not run for re-election, I will be the most senior member of our seven person Board, which brings with it history and context other members do not possess. Since I joined the Board of Education, we have successfully introduced Universal Pre-K and our Tution In program, which were part of the platform I ran on in 2016. We have returned our AVID (Advancement Via Independent Determination) program to Suffern Middle School and last year we entered the world of Project Based Learning with a wonderful program that spans all grade levels. We have engaged in significant security improvements to our schools, many of which are still ongoing.

 

Three years ago I spoke about how increased taxes and declining enrollment was unsustainable. This fact still holds true today, which is why I recently voted to use reserve funds instead of raising taxes by 2%. It is why we should look to close the Administrative building in Hillburn as opposed to spending 2.5 million dollars in renovations. I also support redistricting as a means to give our students the best experience possible while maximizing all of our resources to the benefit of the taxpayer.

 

Over the past year I have been extremely vocal about how our Board oversteps bounds and how certain policies are interpreted inappropriately. The Board of Education should not be micromanaging this district, should not be directly contacting teachers and administrators – other than the Superintendent – and should not be usurping the power of the Superintendent. As a result of our actions, our Board has been charged with more Grievances over the past six months than the previous two years of my tenure combined. This is truly a shame, considering last November we settled a new contract with the Suffern Education Association with relative ease. However, fast forward to this Spring and teachers are voicing their displeasure with this Board during public session at meetings.

 

If you haven’t had the opportunity to attend a meeting and see how our Board members interact with each other and the community, I urge you to watch some meetings on YouTube and make your own judgements about what has been happening. Evaluate how I have interacted with Administration, my colleagues on the Board and the public. As a seven member board we will not always agree. That is the beauty of a democracy – the ability to provide different thoughts, ideas and concerns – while allowing the voice of the majority to carry a vote. In recent months, however, it has become clear that the way in which we reach those majority votes needs improvement.  We need to swing the pendulum back to center and reinstall a working environment conducive to all decision makers in our district.

 

Since July 2018 we have spent hundreds of hours in meetings, and I would do it all again because I believe in our district. No matter how hard and quite frankly, contentious, the past year has been, the work is vitally important. I love being a Board member. I am proud to sit on that stage and represent all of you. It would be my honor to continue to do my best, to remind everyone what words like “integrity” and “transparency” really mean, to be a voice of reason, to oversee the district and to ensure our tax dollars are spent on what they are meant for – our kids.


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