Kathryn Potter: 2023 Candidate for Cary District 26 School Board


Town: Cary

Age on Election Day: 39



Previous offices held: Member of the Cary CCSD26 Board of Education


Q: Why are you running for this office, whether for reelection or election the first time? Is there a particular issue that motivates you?

A: I am focused on and want nothing more right now than to see the district through this moment. Public Education is far too important and the stakes are too high to allow our schools to fall into the wrong hands.

Q: What is the role of the school board in setting and monitoring curriculum?

A: To determine whether current programming fulfills our district's stated objectives and values, conforms to State standards, meets the diverse needs of our students, as is fiscally responsible to continue providing, D26 Board members routinely monitor student outcomes through assessment and entertain feedback and discussion regarding any need to revise, strengthen or implement new curriculum or rewrite district policy. Committees of district stakeholders regularly review new and current curricula and share findings with the Board. Objectives and models for monitoring progress are defined and year-over-year scores are looked at to determine if desired outcomes are being met with the current approach.

Q: Are there curriculum issues within the district that you feel need particular attention from the board?

A: The ability to deliver a high-quality curriculum will require the district to maintain adequate staffing levels in all academic areas so all students, in every program, at every level in their academic journey, regardless of need or ability, are being taught by a trained educator. Providing adequate support and training for teachers and specialists to ensure they are successful in delivering high-quality programming to our children is equally important and has positive effects on student outcomes.

Q: How do you view your role in confronting policy or curriculum controversies: provide leadership even if unpopular, give a voice to constituents - even ones with whom you disagree, or defer to state authorities?

A: There are district policies addressing the formal steps to take when someone takes issue with a policy or curriculum. I believe in providing leadership and giving a voice to constituents but will defer to state authorities or the Board attorney for legal guidance when necessary. It is not only this way or that way, and though it is important to listen to concerns, how do I confront accusations that are factually absurd? Our educators do not deserve to be ridiculed or harassed.

Q: Concerns are growing regarding a new resurgence of the pandemic. If another massive outbreak of infectious disease occurs, what have we learned from the COVID-19 pandemic that will guide your decision making?

A: Because the next outbreak may be something entirely different and present an entirely new set of challenges, I believe it is important to follow the guidance provided by local, State, and Federal health authorities when it comes to issues of public health and schools instead of making decisions based on a whim. It is crucial districts have a plan ready to move into a different learning model in the event any emergency should require it. Not everyone will be happy so it is best to focus on modeling patience and resilience, and doing what is best in the context of the moment to keep our community safe until public health guidelines are clarified for schools.

Q: Describe your experience working in a group setting to determine policy. What is your style in such a setting to reach agreement and manage school district policy? Explain how you think that will be effective in producing effective actions and decisions of your school board.

A: A school board governs the district and directs the Superintendent through written Board policy. Determining and setting district policy is the most important role of any BoE. The Board sets policy and the Superintendent is trusted to put it into action. I have served on the D26 Policy Committee for four years and Chaired the committee for the last two. I read policy for fun. I am involved with all policy discussions, reviews, and new policy creation. Changes to State standards and school code affect policy and regular policy review is required to determine if changes are needed or if a policy's intended purpose is meeting expectations & reflects the goals and values of D26. At times, a new policy may be needed where holes in district policy exist or clarification of Board direction is required. Open-minded collaboration has been effective as has gathering input from stakeholders & seeking guidance from legal counsel. Respecting the free expression of opinion is key for consensus.

Q: What makes you the best candidate for the job?

A: Nobody prepares, reviews, researches or asks more questions on this Board than I do. It is the Girl Scout in me and I've taken service seriously throughout my life. This moment requires hope for the future, collaboration, leadership dedicated to academic excellence, civility, ensuring equity in education, and the continual monitoring of programming on student outcomes. As a strong public school advocate, it is increasingly important to me to see the district through and I am prepared to meet this moment for D26. It will be important to have level heads at the wheel who effectively govern together in order to keep the district moving forward and focused on academic excellence for every student, especially with a new Superintendent starting in July.

Q: What's one good idea you have to better your district that no one is talking about yet?

A: I would like to involve student voices more, perhaps in an advisory role capacity to the Board of Education.

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