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Candidate profile: Denise J. McCowan, Cheektowaga-Sloan School Board

DENISE-McCowanSchool district: Cheektowaga-Sloan

Age: 49

Town (current residence): Cheektowaga

Current occupation and/or community involvement:

Currently, I work part-time for an answering service. I am an active member of Erie County School Boards Executive Board and William Street Tax Payers Association. In my free time I volunteer for the PTO and Sports Club in our District, JDRF (Walk for a Cure); I have chaired Wounded Warriors Golf Outing (raised over $10,000); and crochet blanket squares and hats for Roswell Park Cancer Institute. I serve on a small marketing committee with the other Cheektowaga Schools. The goal of the committee is to positively promote and inform both current new residents of our schools' educational opportunities.

Number of years you have lived in the school district: 25

Incumbent: Yes

If yes, how long have you served on the school board? 8

Have you run for office before? Yes

If yes, please list your election history:

I have had the honor to serve my District since October 2008, when I was appointed to a vacant seat on the board. In May 2009, I ran un-opposed for the remainder of the seat term, 2 years. In May 2011, I was re-elected for a 5 year term. My time as a board member had afforded me the opportunity to meet and work with our students, staff, faculty, administrators and tax payers, It is an experience that I would like to continue.

Please tell us about yourself:

I plan to continue to strive towards a District that can offer the best educational opportunity for all students. Being a passionate, hardworking individual with determination to complete a task, I know I can work positively with our board and superintendent to continue to bring our District into 21st Century Learning. In my downtime, I enjoy photography and gardening. Most important, I am a Mom and my son is my greatest accomplishment.

Please describe the top issues facing your school district and how you would address them as a school board member:

Educational opportunities and fiscal responsibility are continuing issues our District faces year after year. As a board member, I will continue to work with the board and superintendent to balance these issues, For example, we established 2 academic learning centers, added new courses and programs for our students and initiated many cost saying programs that save the District $1.6 million annually. Together we can investigate new and creative ways to continue progressing towards a solution.

Do you think public education in New York is headed in the right direction? Yes

Please explain why, in 100 words or less:

Yes, public education is headed in the right direction, however it's taking the long way to get there. NYS adopted Common Core standards with the intention of all children receiving an education to support college and career readiness. In conjunction with these tough standards, the state initiated excessive testing and attached teacher evaluations to the results. Unfortunately, the roll out of it all has turned our education system into a chaotic mess. The children are pawns in this game between parents, schools and the state. Each segment needs to be re-evaluated and launched in steps.

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