Voorheesville school board: Tricia Putman

Tricia Putman said she’s running for school board because she feels these are unprecedented times, and she’s hoping with her background and experience as a certified public accountant that she can help navigate the district through such an extraordinary moment.

Putman and her husband, Chris Dowd, have lived in Voorheesville for close to 20 years and have two daughters in school in the district.

On school finances, she said, “obviously” she didn’t like any of the listed options but also said that she also knows the reality of the situation. 

“We’re going to be OK for this coming school year,” Putman said. “It’s really going to be the budget year after that.” And since the district has a year, she said she thinks it should be focusing more on advocating at the state and federal level for more money — but especially at the federal level, because the state and local governments are “disasters because COVID.”

“And so, maybe we all need to come together and really start to reach out and advocate” like last year. When Voorheesville incurred cuts caused by prescription-drug cost spikes, it reached out to Assemblywoman Patricia Fahy, who secured $100,000 in bullet aid, which allowed Voorheesville to restore a kindergarten teacher position slated for elimination.

Putman said she didn’t know if it would be necessary to open up union contracts, but said she would start to have conversations with all stakeholders.

She also said that, being on the outside, she’s not educated enough to “know all the ins and outs of the budget and the teacher contract.”

She would not advocate for going over the property-tax cap.

On remote learning, Putman said, what the district is “doing right now, definitely isn’t sustainable.”

But distance education could be a component of a new education system, she said. 

One of the problems of remote learning is, in general, the longer it has gone on, the more engagement has dropped, Putman said. “In our house, [we’re] finding it difficult to stay motivated, to be honest; it’s hard to self-learn.”

But Putman also pointed out that “there has been silver linings in our household” with distance learning: Her daughters are able to get the actual amount of sleep they need to be effective.

She also said she was a little concerned that the Gates Foundation was being asked to “revolutionize education.” When asked why that was, she said that she wasn’t “well-studied enough” on the Gates Foundation to answer the question.

Putman said she thinks the foundation is probably brilliant with technology, but wonders why it would be considered an expert in education.

The elementary school is “pretty much out of space,” Putman said, but she doesn’t know the situation at the middle and high school campus. With the expected growth, she said, Voorheesville will have facilities issues, but along with that growth will come an increase in revenues.

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