Meet the Candidates for the Board of Education

Steve Greenfield

Graduating from Columbia College in 1982 with a degree in economics, Greenfield and his wife moved to New Paltz to start their family in 2001. Greenfield was elected to the Board of Education in 2008, and was then re-elected in 2014. He chaired the Policy, Facilities and Legislative Action Committee during his six years on the board. Additionally, he has been the district’s voting delegate to the annual New York State School Boards Association convention and advocate at the annual Capital Conferences with our state legislators, received several professional development certificates, chairs the Ulster County School Boards Association Legislative Action Committee and was recently named Vice President of that organization.

Greenfield is running as the incumbent this year and believes that now more than ever it is important to have a member of the board who is experienced. For Greenfield, the well-being, experiences and safety of students in the education system are going to be negatively affected by the drastic education policy changes being planned by Sec. of Education Betsy DeVos and President Donald Trump.

“Local government and officials are the key to ensuring our education system continues to thrive,” Greenfield said. “As board members, we are going to be looking at playing a major role in education policy making. We are in a potential ‘wild west environment’ because of the policy coming out of Washington, D.C.”

Greenfield takes issue with the vouchers for religious school that funding is going to be drawn from National Education Department under the Trump administration, which is already being cut. 

“Facing a loss of federal aid in public school, it is going to be hard to tell what to expect,” Greenfield said. “We need to make sure parents and children in this district believe they have a board that is not just managing the budget, but doing a lot more to ensure their child’s education is going to be solid.” 

Greenfield is the only candidate endorsed by all six current Board of Education members and the Teachers Union. He emphasized the importance of education majors at SUNY New Paltz coming to vote, since their career is extremely dependent on the continuation of public school institutions. 

Teresa Thompson

As a 30-year resident of Gardiner, Thompson holds a B.A. in communications and an M.A. in English from SUNY New Paltz. Since 1993, she and her husband Doug have owned  the Main Street Bistro in New Paltz. She has had a diverse career as an advertising executive and writer at the Poughkeepsie Journal and now as the Vice-Chair of the Regional Chamber of Commerce Foundation at New Paltz. Additionally she sits on the boards of the New Paltz Athletic Association (NPAA), the New Paltz Baseball & Softball Association (NPBSA) and the New Paltz High School PTSA.

Thompson is running as a candidate who supports a fiscally responsible budget and wants to find ways to “locally save.” She is opposed to the changing of school start times, which has been a conversation among the board for a few months now. The delaying of school start times will result in a later dismissal, and as a member of the NPAA and NPBSA, Thompson fears this will interfere with extra circular activities such as sports. 

“I feel like I’m a different voice that the board could use,” Thompson said. “The two other candidates have similar ideas to that of the current board, which could use some diversity.”

Since her time volunteering in the school system, she has formed relationships with many of the students. As a mother of two, she wants to make sure all students receive encouragement and guidance from the school.  

“I want to [be on the board] because I care about all kids,” Thompson said. “ I know a lot of the students and their parents; this is a small town.”

Thompson feels strongly about the reduction of lunch time at New Paltz High School. According to Thompson, the duration of lunch has been cut from about 40 minutes to 23 minutes, which affects the time a student has to eat and socialize with their friends. 

“This can be detrimental and dangerous for students if they are scarfing down their food [too] quickly,” Thompson said. “These kids deserve social time and adequate time to eat their lunch.”

Kathy Preston 

Kathy Preston is a lifelong resident of New Paltz and a graduate of New Paltz High School with a degree in photography from Ithaca College. She opened a small gallery, Artemisia, in the early days of the Water Street Market, then started a craft business with Gnorasaurus, an original line of children’s clothing and home décor. 

From 2012-2016, Preston now owned and operated The Treehouse, a shop featuring the work of Hudson Valley artists, in downtown New Paltz. She currently works for the Town of New Paltz as an assistant to Supervisor Neil Bettez. Her husband Bob Lukomski is a musician, composer, and SUNY professor and their daughter is a 6th-grade student at New Paltz Middle School. Preston currently serves as President of the New Paltz Middle School PTA, and a community member of the Board of Education’s Legislative Action Advisory Committee. She has also served as Vice-President of the Board of Directors for the New Paltz Childcare Center, served on the board of the New Paltz Regional Chamber of Commerce and was a founding member of New Paltz Arts in the Schools (NPASA). Preston is actively engaged in community organizing around budget advocacy, public education and civil rights.

“As parents in the district, our perspective on student involvement is skewed towards what our own children are involved in,” said Preston. “I want to expand that perspective in order to understand how to serve effectively as a board member, since students have differing interests.” 

Preston believes that students of all sexual orientations, socioeconomic backgrounds and ethnic backgrounds should be presented with the same opportunities, and feel that they are safe and welcome in their school environment. 

“The board has done amazing work already, for example with the implementation of transgender bathrooms in the high school,” Preston said. “We have to continue that conversation and ask, what are the things we can do on a local level to push back against whatever discriminatory non-protective policies are coming out of Washington?”

In addition to this, Preston feels as though the dress code policy should be handled with more care and consideration towards female students. She finds the language of the policies to be directed too intensely to young girls, and that these girls should feel comfortable about their bodies at school.

Preston is aware of the fact that college is not the right path for every student; other options and avenues of success should be made available to students so that they can pursue their own version of adulthood. 

“We have to honor what path is right for each individual,” Preston said. “We should be providing  the appropriate education for these students, depending on what direction they want to head in.”

Voting will take place on Tuesday May 16, 2017 from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. at New Paltz High School. Students from New Paltz, Esopus and Gardiner can come vote even if they are not registered in their respective town to vote. Students must only provide a valid indication of their residency in this area.