In her five years on the District 30 Board of Education, Carolyn Torres has seen a lot. There were some tense moments and late-night board meetings, but also numerous accomplishments, most recently the U.S. Department of Education naming Shaw Avenue a National Blue Ribbon School of Excellence.
Torres is running unopposed for her second five-year term. The mother of two said she wants to continue to build upon the recent successes of the district. “We continue to raise the bar and it doesn’t stop here,” she said. “We’re definitely headed in the right direction. You make smart decisions and you get good results.”
Key to getting good results, Torres said, is a strong administration. She said the district has been able to overcome significant turnover in the past few years, and it has good leaders in place going forward.
Torres and her fellow board members were responsible for hiring Superintendent Dr. Nicholas Stirling two years ago. They conducted the entire search process themselves, saving about $25,000.
Torres said it was tough to pass over a strong internal candidate, but the decision to hire Stirling was spot on. “We decided to go with the best fit for our district,” she said. “We’re very happy with our pick and he’s doing a fabulous job.”
She said the board made sure to include the community in the hiring process. Torres stressed the importance of transparency in any decision the board makes, which leads to good relations between the board and the public.
Local schools, Torres said, are one of the best ways to bring a community together and the Board of Education can either make or break that relationship. “I enjoy sitting on the board,” she said. “I like the fact that I’m connected to the community. It’s a position where you can make a difference in a positive manner.”
Financially, Torres said the board made some tough decisions a few years back that paid off. The district is in strong financial shape, she explained, as evidenced through recent budgets that have increased programs during a time when many places are cutting.
Torres has served the past two years as board president. She said she learned that the leader of the board only earns respect by giving respect back. “We work as a team,” she said. “I may hold the title, but we make decisions as a group.”
She has also been a member of the high school board for the past five years, which she described as a different animal from the elementary board where the goals are the same but the dynamics are different.
Torres said her primary objective is to do what’s right by the children and ensure all have a bright future. She says she is not afraid to speak honestly, even if her opinion is unpopular with others.
Voting will take place along with the school budget vote on Tuesday, May 20 from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. at the Clear Stream Avenue, Forest Road and Shaw Avenue schools.
School board experience: Five years
Family: Daughter, Sydney; son, Ryan
Career: Owner and operator of CP New York Management
Other: Board member, the W.A.N.T.E.D. Project at Valley Stream Presbyterian Church; founder, Youth Renaissance Center for the Arts and Social Development; board member, Cover Church International.