Nora Johnson is running for her first term on the Port Washington School Board. She spoke with Patch about why she is running, and what she hopes to accomplish. The polls are open on Tuesday from 6 a.m. - 10 p.m. Find your polling location.
Patch: Do you have children in the district? What grades are they in?
Nora Johnson: My husband Stan and I have three children. Adam, our 22 year old, graduated from college last June. We moved from Manhattan to Port when he was starting 8th grade, so he had one year at Weber and then four years at Schreiber. Rachel, our 15 year old, was starting first grade when we moved and she attended Sousa, Weber, and is now finishing 10th grade at Schreiber. Izzy, who is 11, is graduating from Sousa and starting Weber in September.
Patch: What is your professional background?
NJ: I have a BA in English from SUNY Buffalo, a BS in Nursing from Columbia, and a JD from Hofstra School of Law. After working as an RN for four years, I went back to school for my law degree and practiced for 15 years, first as a litigator at two big firms and then as in-house counsel for a major insurance company.
Upon my "retirement" in 2000, I gave birth to our third child, co-wrote two novels with my husband (both out of print but you may be able to find a copy at Dolphin!), and, most recently, started a small business selling organic jewelry that I make by hand.
I've been also done a lot of community volunteer work, serving as HSA Co-President at Sousa for three years, and now, finishing my second year as HSA Co-President at Schreiber. I'm also co-chairing Port's Relay For Life (June 16th) for the third consecutive year, and recently became a member of the Board of Directors of the Lupus Research Institute.
Patch: Why are you running?
NJ: Serving as a trustee on the School Board is one of the most important, and perhaps most challenging, volunteer positions in our Community. There are few things as important in our lives as ensuring that our children get the best education possible. I'm a person who always steps up when there's a need and I have the skills and ability. Serving on the School Board seems to be a natural step given my professional experience and prior work in our Community.
Patch: What do you hope to accomplish during your term?
NJ: Maintaining and improving our mostly excellent school system over the next three years in this very difficult economy further stressed by unfunded State mandates is going to take creative out-of-the-box thinking, determination, community spirit and compromise, fiscal responsibility, and the willingness to listen and make hard choices. My background as a nurse and a litigator, and the insight that comes from having three children and serving as HSA Co-President for five years, has given me the skill and temperament that the position requires. Being a Board Member is different and I have a lot to learn. I'm looking forward to that learning process.
Patch: Do you support the budget?
NJ: This is a fair and balanced budget that I'm hopeful everyone will support. Almost all programming – at all levels – has been maintained and the increase is within the tax cap. It's not perfect, but Budget failure would lead to far more cuts and potentially irrevocable harm to our students' education and our Community.
Patch: Passing the roof bond is absolutely necessary to eliminate a health and safety hazard to our children, teachers and staff, and community. The $150,000/year spent annually on repairs is an expensive band aid that only works sometimes. The bond money will be used solely for a new Weber roof, replacement of badly damaged sections of roofs at Schreiber, Sousa, and Guggenheim, and repair of the areas in each building damaged by water. The recent incident of a water-logged ceiling tile falling on a Weber teacher during class is evidence that we can't put off roof replacement any longer. Since there is no money in the Budget for the project (and the roofs are going to last for many years and generations of taxpayers) passing the bond is the only safe and prudent option.