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Depew School Board candidates

Four people are seeking three seats on the Depew School Board. They are Steven Carmina; Courtney Celej; Michael Fusani; and Barbara Staebell

All were invited to tell distrct residents why they are worthy of their vote.

1. STEVEN CARMINA

Carmina 

As current President of the Depew School Board and a board member for 10 years, I am
seeking re-election to continue to work toward providing the best education possible for our
children. For the past several years, we have achieved this while remaining fiscally
responsible.

During my tenure, I have participated on many committees and several contract negotiation
teams that resulted in equitable contracts for the both the employees and the taxpayers. I was
part of the recently completed capital improvement project that resulted in many upgrades
throughout the district. Your vote on May 17 for another capital project will continue the
improvements and upgrades at no additional cost to the taxpayer.

My wife and I have lived in the Depew School District for the past 24 years and our three
children have all graduated from Depew with my youngest graduating last year.

I graduated from Canisius College in 1980 with an accounting degree. Since 1990, I have
been a successful self-employed certified public accountant. My background is a benefit to the
board, providing an in-depth knowledge of finances. Being self-employed allows the flexibility
to serve the students and residents.

With the continuing pressures put on the school district by the reduction of state aid, I welcome the opportunity to work with the administration to continue to craft responsible budgets.

I ask for your vote on May 17 so that I can continue to be a part of the Depew School
District. Thank you for your consideration. 

2. COURTNEY CELEJ

 

Celej 

 I am currently a senior at Depew High School and I am running to be a school board trustee. Throughout my high school career I have taken full advantage of all that the school district has offered and have learned numerous things.

I have had firsthand experiences with college credit courses, student activities, and athletics. I possess incomparable leadership skills from the many activities I have participated in such as, Student Senate, Leadership In Action Class, and Public Speaking. Through these helpful clubs and activities, I have learned how to effectively and efficiently get my point across and speak my mind. I am not afraid to stand up for ideas which I believe will highly benefit teachers, students, and taxpayers.

I care much about our school district, because it has provided me with many opportunities to go forward with my life and provide a hopeful future. With my first hand experience, I know the Depew Public Schools have so much potential and are doing great things. The school's ranking does not reflect the ability of our students, teachers and the great technology we have access to. I am committed to helping provide a better education for future students while keeping it affordable for the taxpayers.

 

3. MICHAEL FUSANI

 

Fusani 

 

It is time for a new generation of leaders to step up! I feel a successful community needs balance. The Depew community has two groups; taxpayers who have students in the school system and solely taxpayers. I understand the needs and concerns of both groups and will be COURAGEOUS in fighting to do what is best.

As a graduate of the Depew School District, I best understand the needs and concerns of our students, staff and parents. As a Depew Resident I understand the importance of strong and successful schools; which adds value and promise to our community. I believe ALL students need every available resource to assist them in achieving the highest standards in our ever changing world. We need to work together in continuing in the education of our children and the growth of our community.  

I am a current student at Buffalo State College, majoring in business and communications. I was the President of the graduating class of 2010. During my time at Depew, I was greatly involved in sports, clubs and many other activities. I was one of the founding members of Depew's DECA club and attended the National Career and Development Conference in Anaheim, California.

On May 17th I ask for your vote to start the beginning stages of change that I feel is necessary in our school district. It is time for a new generation of leaders to stand up.

4. BARBARA STAEBELL

 

Staebell 

 

As a member of the Depew School Board for the past 10 years, I appreciate that Depew is a community which supports our schools and values education. I am the board’s current Vice President. My first focus as a board member is to ensure our students have a safe and inviting atmosphere in which to learn.

My second focus is developing budgets that are both fiscally responsible, yet also provide every opportunity for our students to succeed. The overall focus should be producing graduates that are well rounded, prepared to continue their education or join the work force who are then contributing members of our community. Over my tenure I believe the board has been able to deliver budgets that do just that.

Even with shrinking state funding and rising costs including health insurance and retirement contributions, we have been able to continue to find new ways to become more efficient while maintaining programs and services.

My husband and I have lived in the district over 19 years. We have a son who graduated in 2009 and a daughter who is currently a junior at DHS. I have an A.A.S in Accounting and have worked at UB for over 20 years in budget and personnel. I believe my degree and work experience in higher education helps me bring an important perspective to the board. Additionally, my life experiences as a parent and taxpayer gives me first-hand knowledge of the concerns of the community.

Even though I only have one child left in Depew schools, I keep active at all three buildings. I regularly attend school functions and events. I have been on various school board committees including the professional development committee, interview committees, and the team that put together the recently completed capital improvement project. That project enabled the district to make much needed repairs and updates and also implement efficiency measures in our buildings.

Before coming to the board, I was the PTO president for two years and treasurer for two years. I also chaired various fundraisers for the PTO and was a member of post-prom committees and the rebuilding of the Cayuga playground.

I am a current member of the Facility Improvement Team, which has developed a proposed capital project that addresses a number of health, safety, and efficiency issues brought forward through the state-mandated building condition survey.

The project calls for upgrading science, technology, art, home and careers, and music classrooms. It also calls for an additional gym station to be built at Cayuga Heights, which will bring us into compliance with state regulations regarding physical education for our elementary students.

Looking to be more fiscally responsible, it also calls for vacating the Terrace Boulevard site completely, by moving district offices to the Middle and High schools. This move is estimated to save the district more than $50,000 yearly.

This project does not have any direct impact to your local tax bill, because we have leveraged the capital reserve fund to pay the local share cost. I ask that you support this proposition.

I would greatly appreciate your vote so that I can continue to volunteer my time and energy to our school community and continue to build upon our recent successes. Thank you for your continued support. 

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About School Zone

Denise Jewell Gee

Denise Jewell Gee

Denise Jewell Gee joined The Buffalo News in 2007 and currently covers education and suburban schools. She also writes a column for the City & Region section and previously covered government in Erie County and Niagara Falls. Gee graduated from Boston University with degrees in journalism and political science.

@denisejewellgee | djgee@buffnews.com


Tiffany Lankes

Tiffany Lankes

Tiffany Lankes joined The Buffalo News in 2013 and primarily covers the Buffalo Public Schools. She has written about education since 2003 at newspapers in Florida and New York. In 2008, she was a nominated finalist for The Pulitzer Prize. Lankes is an Amherst native and graduate of Sacred Heart Academy and Syracuse University. She started her journalism career writing for the News’ NeXt section.

@TiffanyLankes | tlankes@buffnews.com


Sandra Tan

Sandra Tan

Sandra Tan has been a cityside reporter for The Buffalo News since 2000 and currently covers the Buffalo Public Schools beat. She previously covered the Williamsville school district and was a full-time education reporter for five years prior to joining The News. She graduated from the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism.

@BNschoolzone | stan@buffnews.com


Deidre Williams

Deidre Williams

Deidre Williams began working for The Buffalo News in 1999 and currently covers Buffalo Public Schools. She formerly was a suburban reporter on the Northtowns beat and has been a cityside reporter covering communities since 2004. Williams has a mass communications degree from Towson University.

@DeidreWilliamsB | dswilliams@buffnews.com

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