Questions for the Pawling BoE Candidates

On May 15, the Pawling Central School District will hold its annual budget vote as well as an election for two new members to the Board of Education. Voting will take place between 6:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m. at the Pawling Elementary School gymnasium. The Pawling Record recently invited each of the candidates to answer a few questions to help inform voters about their backgrounds and positions on the issues. Here are their answers.

Karen Burka

Why are you running for a position on the Board of Education?

A high-quality school district is vital to our community and important to me personally. Not only do excellent schools prepare our children to become successful adults, they enhance our real estate property values. My husband, Marty Mygan, and I have two sons attending PCSD schools: Daniel is in 10th grade and Mark is in 6th grade. As a parent, homeowner, and taxpayer, I recognize the important benefits of an excellent school district.

I am running for the Pawling Central School District’s Board of Education so I may use my skills and experience to grow the excellence of our educational programs and position our students for success in all their endeavors. Whether that means learning to play the clarinet, training to become a cosmetician at BOCES, or taking Advanced Placement courses to gain acceptance to an Ivy League college, I believe in providing all our students the opportunity to achieve their dreams.

I am running for the Board of Education because I want to ensure the school district remains affordable for all residents of Pawling and Holmes and continues to provide financial transparency to the community. We have not had a school district tax levy increase in three of the past five years. I believe I can make an important contribution to help our school board continue to manage our tax dollars wisely.

What are your qualifications for the position?

I have been actively involved in our school district for many years as a Pawling PTA President, Corresponding Secretary, and Health & Wellness Chair; as a member of the PCSD Health & Wellness Committee; and as a PTSA volunteer and event chairperson. Through these experiences, I have forged valuable working relationships with many district parents, administrators, teachers, and staff. I also have extensive experience managing budgets, developed through owning my freelance writing business for 12 years and managing the PTA budget. I pride myself on always being organized, prepared, and on time – important skills for serving on the Board of Education.

For six years, I served on the PTA Executive Committee, first as Health & Wellness Chairperson, then as Corresponding Secretary, and finally as President. I chaired numerous PTA programs, including author visits, Mad Science and Mobile Planetarium assemblies, Teacher Appreciation Week, the Ice Cream Social & Book Swap, and the Homecoming Parade. During my tenure as President, PTA gave the Elementary School two playground Buddy Benches which, when used by a student feeling isolated, encourage staff and students to reach out and be a buddy to the child.

I served eight years on the PCSD Health & Wellness Committee, developing programs and policies that made student wellness a district priority. We launched the Elementary School’s Edible Garden, bringing together parents, teachers, and students to grow a variety of fruits, vegetables, and herbs. We launched Snackarooza, a popular annual event encouraging Elementary School students to sample delicious and nutritious snacks. We partnered with Dutchess County to create the Great Halloween Candy Exchange, where Elementary and Middle School students exchanged some of their Halloween candy for tickets to activities such as mini-golf, bowling, and ice-skating.

What do you hope to accomplish, if elected?

Our current Board of Education has done much to enhance the quality of our student educational programs and expand the number of programs available, all while being financially transparent and responsible with our tax dollars. The district has expanded musical instrument instruction to the Elementary School, added class trips to Montreal and Spain for our foreign language students, and now offers more than a dozen Advanced Placement and college-level courses at the High School. If I am elected, I will work with school administrators and staff to seek out new and worthwhile programs such as these, so we may further improve our school district’s educational excellence.

Local school districts continue to be burdened with unfunded mandates at both the state and federal levels. If I am elected, I will use my experience as a small business owner to help our school district maintain the balance between excellent educational programs and fiscal prudence. I will contribute my financial and budget management skills towards keeping our school taxes affordable for all residents.

What is your educational background?

I graduated from Northern Valley Regional High School in Demarest, NJ, where I grew up. I went to Colgate University in Hamilton, NY, and earned a B.A. degree in English. Colgate has a beautiful campus, and I fell in love with New York State. I have been a New York resident ever since, and worked in Manhattan for many years before starting a family and moving to Holmes.

Chris Clowry

Why are you running for a position on the Board of Education?

As a long-time Pawling resident with children in our school system, I want to have a say in the decisions that affect our children, teachers, and community. I am an active member and business owner in our community, and I want to find more ways to work together to make sure that all taxpayers are heard and represented.

What are your qualifications for the position?

I have been a Pawling resident since 1975, when I started the 3rd grade in the Pawling School district. I am a proud Pawling High School graduate with two children and four family members currently enrolled in the district and two children that have recently graduated. Along with being a local business owner and member of the Chamber of Commerce, endorsed by the Pawling Congress of Teachers, I have invested countless hours of volunteer work in our community, including over 12 years of coaching with the Pawling Little League. My heart is here in this town, and I want to do everything I possibly can to make sure our schools and children are the best they can be.

What do you hope to accomplish if elected?

I believe that the arts, music, and sports are vital to education and development, and I want to encourage the Board to promote and strengthen them. I also want to work more closely with our local government to strengthen our services and facilities, and with the state government to find a solution to our ongoing tax burden. As a proud Pawling graduate, I want to make sure we preserve the history and tradition of our great schools and work to restore the Pawling Pride we once had.

What is our education background?

After graduating from Pawling High School, I attended Penn State University and studied Architecture at Dutchess Community College.

Deborah Klein

Why are you running for a position on the Board of Education?

I’ve been a member of the Pawling Community for over 20 years. As a homeowner, employee at Pawling Corporation then Pawling Engineered Products, parent and community volunteer, I have seen how good our community can be and how dedicated the teachers and administration are to preparing our children to succeed in our diverse society. I want to ensure that this trend continues. For all students, whether they are college or vocationally bound. I am also committed to consciously evaluating the school budget knowing its impact on the homeowners whether or not they have students in the district.

What are your qualifications for the position?

Over the years I have served as a member of the Pawling PTA, Pawling Chamber of Commerce, Registrar for Pawling Little League, Elementary School Building Level Team, Girl Scout volunteer and am currently President of the PTSA and sit on the High School Building Level Team.

What do you hope to accomplish, if elected?

The current Board is a well-functioning, cohesive unit. I hope to continue this, while bringing my own background in Human Resource Management as a unique perspective to the group in evaluating what we do and how we do it. My personal goal is to see more communication with the community, whether it is increased attendance at Board meetings or through community outreach.

What is your educational background?

I have a bachelor’s degree in Occupational Health & Safety, a master’s degree in business with a concentration in Human Resource Management, and currently hold certifications in HR from both the Society for Human Resource Management and the HR Certification Institute.