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Peekskill School Board Candidate: Jillian Clausen

Clausen is running as one of six candidates vying for three seats on the school board.

On May 21, Peekskill voters will vote on a $78.4 million budget proposal and elect three new school board members. Below is a brief bio of Jillian Clausen and her replies to a set of questions sent to all of the candidates. Clausen is a lifelong resident of Peekskill who graduated from the high school in 2008. She graduated from Guilford College in Greensboro North Carolina with a B.S. in Business Administration and Psychology with a minor in Human Resource Management. After college she learned about Educational Advocacy and has been advocating for students. She is a member of the Religious Society of Friends also known as the Quakers and holds their values of peace, equality, community, stewardship, integrity, and simplicity paramount. She has helped in many areas throughout her life in Peekskill, everything from Interact club in High School to helping at the Festa Italiana, and most recently with my advocacy work. She is engaged to her highschool sweetheart and wants to help keep Peekskill a place to raise children.
Patch: What strengths will you bring to the board?  I believe that I bring a young spirit to the board with the energy and enthusiasm that comes with it. I want to look to creativity to solve problems and am willing and able to put the time and energy needed to get things done. I also bring my connection to this community as it has been my home my whole life and has given me so much, as well as my experience in education and psychology.

Patch: What issues facing the district do you feel most strongly about?
I think our district is truly struggling to keep up with the needs of all the children. We are facing interesting issues nationally when it comes to psychology and special needs; with instances of diagnosis growing alongside the understanding of disorders keeping education up is difficult. We have to be able to give these children as much a chance at success in the world as all our neuro-typical children. I also feel that we are struggling to provide an educational environment that engages and supports all its students. We lack a system for gifted children; we lack outlets for encouragement and positive reinforcement to foster positive behavior and achievement. We are currently involved in a number of controversies that are doing nothing but hurting our students and the district as a whole.

Patch: Describe the quality of education you think students are getting in the district. Are there measures you would take to improve upon it? I went through this school system; I enjoyed it, but there are a few areas that are and have been lacking. There are very few outlets for gifted students and over achievers. Gifted students should be challenged from within and not have to seek out advancement. We have very limited support services and while I know they can be quite costly, many people in these positions change lives.

Patch: This was another tough year for the district in terms of developing a budget. Are there any areas you would consider cutting during next year's budget process to stay under the tax cap?
I have always believed that all change has to stem from the top. If we need to look at making any cuts they need to come from administration before coming from classrooms. However, it is more important to look to build revenue then to make cuts. We have a talented group of students and a great amount of diverse space that could be used in any number of creative new ways that generate new funds. We have to remember that in many cases it takes money to make money and while education should not be a market and a student should never have a price tag we live in the US and that is exactly what education is here.

Patch: What do you think the long-term impact of the tax cap will be on Peekskill schools? (Do you support or think it's hurting public education?) I think that education is the most important gift any community can give. It is important that every dollar that a community gives in taxes or as a donation is used to the fullest. The trying economic times have hit us and the tax cap helps make it clear to those in education that there isn’t an open piggy bank anywhere, but I think it should encourage districts to look to other funding sources. While it would be easier if it wasn’t there we must not look at it as a barrier but a mere obstacle to overcome.

Patch: What do you think about the Common Core standards? Will they benefit Peekskill students? There are pros and cons to the common core as there are with most other things. I think that only time will truly tell if the scales balance, but with the common core coming into place in Peekskill as well as countless other schools across the country it is important to support teachers in the implementation and understanding. I think that having comparable standards is important but I can’t help but question the push for anything that leads to teaching to a test instead of a method more suited to teach the skills needed to succeed in our world.

Patch: There are plans for the establishment of a charter school in the Peekskill school district? What are your thoughts on the charter school and the impact it will have on the district?
As I have not been made completely savvy of all details I have yet to form an opinion. I would like to hear the presentations on both sides as well as hear from the state and other places with charter schools before making up my mind. However, with the state denying the application I think all the energy that was being used for or against the charter school needs to be used to improve the quality of our public schools.

Patch: Is there anything we haven’t asked that you would like the public to know about you or your candidacy?
I think the only thing that I would really like to say is that I don’t know everything; I won’t promise that I can magically fix any problems or that my ideas will work, but I can guarantee that I will listen to the public, the teachers, and students and I will do everything I can and will try my best.
sayitsnotsojack May 13, 2013 at 11:32 AM
She forgot to list EDU BABBLE 101 how about some real life experience besides going to school most of your life like struggling to pay horrendous school taxes, deciding what not to do with so you can pay the electric bill, and put food on the table. You want more gifted programs, make the school year longer, but then you would have to confront the teachers union. Yes, it takes money but there is none left because of unsustainable contracts and benefits. Get some real life experiences as most of the people who you want to pay the bills then come back and run for the board.
Silent Majority May 13, 2013 at 12:20 PM
Is there anything you say that is nice on the PATCH? Give the lady a break. She's running for a non-paid volunteer board. Since you have so many things to say, as well as others who are highly opinionated, why don't you run for a board or elected position
sayitsnotsojack May 13, 2013 at 01:28 PM
Yes I like the patch so I can say the truth which does hurt but someone has to say it. If someone wants to be on the board so be it, but when you are spending my and others money you had better be ready to take their views and displeasure. If you can not stand the heat stay out of the kitchen the saying goes.
Kirsten Berger May 13, 2013 at 04:08 PM
Good luck to Jillian. I like what she has to say. In the years I've lived in Peekskill, she is one of the first candidates, if not the only one, to directly say that the district is in need of programs for gifted children and over-achievers. There are some in the district that say all children are challenged, but this is not true. I have to deal with the consequences of this every day when my son comes home from school in a foul mood because he bored and frustrated because he has to keep learning the same thing over and over because the advanced kids have to wait for the slower kids to catch up instead being able to move on to the next thing separately from the kids who need more time. I look forward to hearing what else Ms. Cluasen has to say this evening at the Q & A.
Dutch May 14, 2013 at 01:26 AM
Honestly I was not impressed with Ms Clausen.
Mary Jane May 14, 2013 at 01:37 AM
Nor was I, Dutch. What's with the bio that's touting all those religious values? All the screaming that the anti-Guardianites are doing, and yet this is a candidate that they would endorse and support? Her Q&A is pretty revealing as to her lack of knowledge about the district and the critical issues. I found all of the candidates weak, disassociated with the district and uninformed.
joshua tanner May 14, 2013 at 02:09 AM
She is wary of Common Core and that shows shes a live from the neck up.
Kirsten Berger May 14, 2013 at 03:11 AM
I was at the Q & A this evening, and Jillian is aware of things that are going on in the district that some people don't want to believe or think about. There really are kids who struggle academically and there really are kids who are advanced enough to be bored to death, and their needs aren't being met. One of the other candidates would like us to believe otherwise but I think he's out of touch on that level and he's been on the board! I like that she really wants to get the community more involved with committees (which other districts do have) and wants to improve the website (which really sucks, I can't find any information about anything in the schools....it's no wonder people are out of touch.) Ms. Clausen is not out of school long enough to have forgotten what is going on in the schools, so I think it is unfair to say she is lacking knowledge. She knows about the most important thing: what is actually goes on in the classrooms and she can bring that to the table. She brings a fresh perspective, one doesn't need to be a finance person to be on the school board (that is what we have Greg Sullivan for.) I think we've had to many bean counters on the board in the past who think more about the money than about what all the kids in the district need.
Eve May 14, 2013 at 10:54 AM
I was at the forum too & saw two candidates that seemed fairly strong. Jillian Clausen & Maria Pereira. I wish them both good luck & hope that they can bring a new fresh perspective to the board. I was unimpressed with two candidates, Shannon Casiano, and Michael Simpkins. And HIGHLY unimpressed with Adriana Ariza. I will not vote for Rolv (Nick) Nicolaysen since he did not show up to the meeting as a result of "prior commitments." Sorry Champ, thats just how it goes...one chance to meet the public & it was blown off. Keep your eyes open for the Patch & Peekskill Daily Voice interviews of all of the candidates this week & next. And dont forget to vote on May 21st for the candidates & the Budget.
stephanie May 14, 2013 at 04:33 PM
Kirsten I know how you feel about your child mine is the same way he gets bored in class to and has to wait for the other kids to catch up and he is also tired of doing the same work over and. but i am more pissed with the district because my sin was to graduate this year and now he can't because of the guidance office of the investigation i can't wait until he graduates high school
Dutch May 14, 2013 at 09:35 PM
Stephanie could you please clarify for us as to why your child will not be graduating. If he is a advanced child as you imply why would the guidance office investigation prevent him from graduating?
Dutch May 15, 2013 at 07:17 PM
The 2011/2012 NYS Report Card is out. It does not look to promising for this district. https://reportcards.nysed.gov/files/2011-12/RC-2012-661500010000.pdf
Kirsten Berger May 16, 2013 at 10:19 AM
Dutch, when gifted kids find that they are bored in school and the school does not push them to their fullest potential, they lose motivation to do the work. Thus, their grades and classwork do not reflect their true abilities. Being gifted is not the same as overachieving or being advanced. It's a common assumption people make. THere's a lot of literature, both online and printed about this. Kids for whom school is so easy in the early years get overlooked because it is assumed that because they perform at grade level, that they don't need help. In the upper grades, when things may actually get harder, they don't know what to do and the sudden challenge is very hard for them to deal with because they never learned to do challenging work before and their grades end up tanking. I think Jillian wants to change things for kids like this., so that no child is really left behind. I don't Stephanie's son's whole story but from what she has said, the boredom he experiences tends to be a motivation killer in general and if he's truly gifted, then even more so.
Dutch May 16, 2013 at 05:47 PM
I still dont understand why her son is not graduating. Was he a student that was given false credit? I do agree that more programs need to be put into place for those students that fall in both the gifted and advanced areas. But it seems as if the needs of a few are placed to the wayside . This is a high need district that is full of ELL. They are being given top priority.

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