HUDSON—“I would like people to realize that they should be involved in their children’s education,” said Carrie Otty on January 23, a few days after stepping down from the Hudson City School District (HCSD) Board of Education. She served on the board for more than ten years, the last five-and-a-half as its president.
For some parents, she said, it is hard to start participating in schools. But once they leap past that hurdle, participation is much easier for them, and they benefit. In a similar vein, she advised people who are joining the school board to “take the commitment seriously and give it the attention it deserves.”
Ms. Otty, a graduate of Taconic Hills High School and Columbia-Greene Community College, comes from a tradition of parental involvement in school. Her father was on the board of the Roeliff Jansen School District, which later merged with another district (Ockawamick) to become Taconic Hills. Years later, with her own children in HCSD schools, she joined the PTA. Her husband, Jeff Otty, joined the HCSD schoolboard in 2007, the year the oldest of their three children graduated from Hudson High School.
The parents most likely to get involved in school are those with children in younger grades, Ms. Otty observed. But even for schools serving younger grades, she could not envision a PTA or the equivalent turning away anyone who wants to join. In fact, if too many people volunteer, “It would be great. At the PTA, you’re lucky if you get 10 people on a regular basis.”
Jeff Otty became the HCSD board’s vice president in 2009 and its president in July 2011. But after only a couple of months as president, he died in September of that year.
Ms. Otty was invited to apply to take her husband’s place on the board, and “it seemed the right thing to do,” she said. She joined the board on November 14, 2011.
Over the next four-and-a-half years, the board went through four presidents. Then in 2016, board members chose Ms. Otty as president, and she held that position for over five years.
Throughout her time on the board, Ms. Otty worked full time, most recently in bookkeeping, while raising her two younger children, she said. In recent years, she has held a part-time job as well.
The most surprising thing Ms. Otty learned while on the board is that it “is made up of ordinary people making extraordinary decisions.” Her best experience was the opening of the modern Blue Hawk Sports Complex in 2017. “It helped raise Blue Hawk pride in our students, faculty and community.”
‘Take the commitment seriously and give it the attention it deserves.’
Former president, Hudson school board
Compared to other board members, “the president has a few more responsibilities. As leader of the board, I feel it’s important to set a good example and urge board members to attend extra meetings and conferences whenever possible,” Ms. Otty said. She advised present and future board members to take advantage of conference and training sessions.
Ms. Otty decided to resign effective January 19, when she sensed it was time. Now, she said, “life will be the same,” just with “a little more time for self and family.” Her youngest child is now 21.
Ms. Otty’s successor as president of the board is Willette Jones, who has already been on the board five-and-a-half years. This winter, the HCSD changed not only board president but also superintendent. Dr. Maria L. Suttmeier retired and Dr. Lisamarie Spindler succeeded her.
For the new superintendent Ms. Otty’s counsel is just to “be the best Bluehawk you can be.”