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Eden School Board candidate

Six candidates are vying for four seats in Eden. They are: Brian Burgstahler (i), Steven Cerne (i), Robert J. Reed, R. Colin Campbell, Michael Breeden, and Peter Duringer.

Here is a profile provided by one candidate:

1. STEVEN CERNE

Cerne 

I am seeking re-election because I want to take part in ensuring my children and all the other children in the district receive the quality education that I believe provides the foundation for a successful and fulfilling future. My own time attending Eden schools, participating in clubs, sports and the school musical has been fundamental in preparing me for my life and career.

• Education should be a balance that allows for the development of students through not only academics but also through other important influences such as athletics, the arts, clubs and extracurricular activities.

• Education should provide an opportunity for each child to reach their greatest potential whether addressing the needs of the developmentally challenged or stimulating those already academically excelling to reach even greater heights.

• Education must be delivered in a way that balances the needs of students while effectively dealing with limited resources. The delivery of that education should be guided by open communication with the community.

Background and Qualifications

• MBA with concentrations in operations and accounting, Carnegie Mellon University • Bachelors in Nuclear Engineering, University of Tennessee • Certified Financial Planner • 20 years’ experience in helping large, complex organizations make change

     Facilitating solutions with all levels of companies including CEOs and Boards

     Analyzing businesses for strategic & operational improvement opportunities

      Training organizations on leadership development

      Expert on change management

• Consultant to the UB 2020 Program • Eden School Board member, 2008-present • Past President of the Eden School Board• Recipient of Erie County School Board Association’s Rising Star Award • Eden Community Center, Board Member • Eden Community Foundation, Grants Committee • Eden Chamber of Commerce, Member • Graduate of Eden Central High School—Student Council President, Varsity Club, National Honor Society, multiple varsity letters, cast of school play, Regents Scholar • Two children currently attending Eden Elementary School

Lessons from the boycott

Monday's parent boycott will no doubt be hailed by its supporters as a success, and dished by critics as a disaster.

But no matter where you stand on the boycott itself, one thing is indisputable: it underscored the dire state of student attendance in the Buffalo Public Schools.

On the day of the boycott, average student attendance across the district was 53 percent. That compares to 61 percent attendance the previous Monday, which was also a half-day.

With those statistics floating out in the public domain now, plenty of people are wondering whether half-days really make much sense, if only six out of 10 students are going to bother showing up.

Even on a recent full day of school, attendance in the district was only 88 percent. In 10 schools that day, less than 80 percent of the students showed up. It's hard to imagine how anyone could see that as anything but major cause for concern.

And clearly, many officials are concerned.

Some Board of Ed members, most notably John Licata, have called to reinstate attendance teachers across the district. Common Council members, led by Demone Smith, are calling for the district to reinstate truant officers.

And the superintendent agrees the district must find ways to improve attendance.

So what's being done about it?

Good question.

Despite the nearly universal agreement that the district must take steps to increase student attendance, the proposed 2011-12 Buffalo Public Schools budget does not include reinstating attendance teachers or truant officers across the district.

While you ponder that, here is a school-by-school breakdown of attendance for the past three Mondays, including the day of the boycott (May 16). Note that May 9 and 16 were both half-days, whereas May 2 was a full day of school.

The list is sorted by attendance on the day of the boycott.

School   May 2 (full day)   May 9 (half day)   May 16 (half day)
Lorraine   91.90%   67.13%   N/A
BUILD   90.28%   49.43%   N/A
City Honors   96.47%   86.35%   82.14%
International School   95.02%   76.78%   78.60%
Olmsted 64   96.52%   82.79%   76.30%
Discovery School   96.63%   84.34%   72.99%
da Vinci   90.55%   86.35%   70.34%
Community School 53   89.97%   50.50%   69.85%
Middle Early College   90.85%   78.64%   69.15%
Occupational Training Ctr 98.36%   78.69%   68.85%
Olmsted 156   94.18%   73.75%   66.88%
Hutch Tech   87.04%   72.23%   63.74%
Native Am. Magnet   91.89%   67.87%   63.68%
Sedita   90.97%   60.03%   63.40%
Pantoja   90.63%   71.40%   63.03%
Lovejoy Discovery   91.64%   64.62%   61.94%
BEST   89.61%   64.61%   60.86%
D'Youville Porter   92.40%   67.08%   60.25%
Performing Arts   89.20%   69.42%   59.59%
School 81   94.38%   70.71%   59.02%
Highgate Heights   99.33%   60.50%   56.71%
West Hertel   85.08%   56.09%   56.51%
Grabiarz   90.98%   64.48%   55.74%
Badillo   86.23%   55.48%   55.56%
Waterfront   94.22%   65.63%   54.87%
Erie County Health Ctr   86.67%   64.00%   53.33%
Emerson   83.45%   74.05%   53.24%
Campus West   91.82%   66.23%   52.77%
Blackman   89.14%   64.30%   52.19%
Bilingual Ctr 33   92.68%   62.09%   51.84%
Tubman   90.10%   60.00%   51.55%
Hillery Park   93.88%   55.59%   51.22%
Futures   89.07%   54.14%   50.26%
International Prep   79.91%   66.35%   50.24%
Drew Science Magnet   91.08%   59.06%   50.00%
MST Prep   86.83%   61.62%   50.00%
Bennett Park Montessori 92.41%   60.77%   49.30%
Hamlin Park   86.68%   61.07%   48.37%
Houghton   87.96%   63.80%   47.55%
Makowski   90.71%   59.12%   47.02%
Wright   93.66%   58.99%   47.01%
Southside   90.65%   62.68%   46.84%
WNY Day Treatment   75.00%   84.62%   46.15%
MLK   92.01%   60.28%   45.99%
North Park   93.96%   61.20%   44.47%
Harvey Austin   86.89%   46.95%   43.60%
McKinley   76.39%   40.10%   43.54%
Roosevelt   89.92%   50.00%   42.55%
Lafayette   72.46%   51.02%   42.54%
ECC 82   91.45%   50.00%   42.34%
Drew Science ECC   90.79%   57.11%   41.37%
Burgard   72.60%   47.26%   39.56%
Riverside   71.41%   43.51%   37.90%
East   70.12%   44.41%   36.29%
ECC 17   87.78%   46.26%   36.28%
ECC 61   90.57%   43.71%   36.16%
South Park   77.21%   45.57%   35.77%
Bennett   69.93%   40.57%   35.18%
Grover Cleveland   35.48%   22.58%   12.90%

 

- Mary Pasciak

E-mail me at mpasciak@buffnews.com or follow me on Follow  SchoolZoneBlog on Twitter Twitter. Check out the Buffalo News' education page at www.buffalonews.com/schools.

Parent talks about boycott

East Side resident Chy'Nel Lee, a parent of one Buffalo Public Schools student and another child who will enter into the system this year, said she is setting an example for her children in keeping them out of school today. Watch this interview:

Running blog from boycott of city schools

Busy week for Buffalo schools kicks off with boycott

Another busy week is on tap for the Buffalo Public Schools.

Events begin today with the parent-organized boycott of the schools, which is designed to draw attention to problems in the district and bring key stakeholders to the table to work out solutions. Opinions on the boycott itself are certainly split, but I think you'd be hard pressed to find anyone who's going to argue against the ultimate goal, which is finding concrete ways to help more kids succeed in school and graduate.

The boycott of today's half-day of instruction will be followed by a noontime rally in front of City Hall (to be moved inside, to the lobby, if the rain becomes a problem), and later, by a prayer vigil at 6 p.m. in the same location.

You can follow our live blog of today's events, including the City Hall rally, here at the School Zone.

In the meantime, the Board of Education will meet behind closed doors at 5 p.m. to continue with its annual evaluation of Superintendent James A. Williams. Board members had until Friday to submit their individual evaluations of the superintendent. Chris Jacobs planned to compile the results over the weekend, and then share them with the entire board this evening.

It's unclear whether the board will release the composite results of the evaluation today, or wait until later in the week.

Speaking of the board, Pamela Cahill's term serving the Ferry District ended on Friday, when her resignation took effect. So the board is now officially down to eight members until it appoints someone to fill Cahill's seat.

The deadline for applications for that seat had been Friday, May 13 -- but because of low interest, the board last week voted to extend the deadline to noon on Friday, May 20, for anyone wanting to be considered for the Ferry District seat.

But the school-related action will hardly be relegated to the Queen City this week.

The Board of Regents meets today and Tuesday, with plenty of big-ticket items on the agenda.

Senior Deputy Commissioner John King is expected to be appointed as the new state education commissioner this week, to replace David Steiner, who will be stepping down. But ever since Steiner announced a few weeks ago that he planned to resign, it seemed -- at least from our perch here in Buffalo -- that King might as well already have been named the No. 1 guy in Albany, from the looks of things.

The Board of Regents this week also will be voting on regulations for the new teacher and principal evaluations, something that will be closely followed in faculty rooms and kitchens across the state.

Also on the Regents' agenda: figuring out a way to deal with the shortfall in funding for Regents exams, and talking about how and when to present the latest set of data for graduation rates.

And if that all weren't enough in the world of education this week, suburban voters will head to the polls on Tuesday to cast their ballots on school budgets and board elections.

You'll be able to find complete coverage of everything from the boycott to the budget votes and the Board of Regents here at The Buffalo News, starting with a live blog of today's boycott and rally, through the morning and early afternoon.

- Mary Pasciak

E-mail me at mpasciak@buffnews.com or follow me on Follow  SchoolZoneBlog on Twitter Twitter. Check out the Buffalo News' education page at www.buffalonews.com/schools.

School election results in Niagara County

The following capsules contain budget information and unofficial results when it comes to today's votes on school district budgets and school board races. The names of the winning school board candidates are in bold.

All tax information is estimated based on the best available information. Tax rates in particular are subject to change.

Barker, Lewiston-Porter, Lockport, Newfane, Niagara Falls, Niagara Wheatfield, North Tonawanda, Royalton-Hartland, Starpoint, Wilson

Barker

* Candidates (Elect two to three-year terms): Incumbent Louis Mead (225); write-in candidate John Sweeney (73).
* Total budget: $19.2 million, down 4.11 percent. Passed (Yes, 242; No, 56).
* Proposition 2: Capital improvement project. Passed (Yes, 230; No, 61).
* Proposition 3: Capital improvements reserve plan. Passed (Yes, 224; No, 61).
* Property tax rate per $1,000 assessed value: $18.10 per $1,000, no change.
* Taxes on $100,000 home (market value): $1,043.
* Percentage of budget from property taxes: 19.14 percent.
* Percentage of budget from state aid: 33.79 percent.
* Noteworthy: The district reduced its expenditures by nearly $890,000 and wants to tap into $350,000 of its fund balance to be able to maintain current programming and allow for staff reductions almost entirely through attrition. Much of the district's revenue comes from a payment-in-lieu-of-taxes, or PILOT, agreement on the AES Somerset power plant. An administrator will be shared with the Wilson Central School District.
The only candidate on the ballot for two, three-year terms on the seven-member board was:
* Incumbent Louis Mead, 36, owner of New England Sea Food, which sells bulk groceries in a store at Ridge and Hartland roads. Mead will serve his third term.

Lewiston-Porter

* Candidates (Elect two to three-year terms): Keith Fox (746) and Michael Gentile (738).
* Total budget: $40.23 million, up 0.35 percent. Passed (Yes, 704; No, 180).
*Proposition 2: To allow a public vote on new contracts worth $100,000 or more over existing contracts. Passed (Yes, 514; No, 336).
* Property tax rate per $1,000 assessed value: Town of Lewiston: $22.11 per $1,000, no change; Town of Porter: $19.25 per $1,000, no change.
* Taxes on $100,000 home (market value): Town of Lewiston: $2,211; Town of Porter: $1,925.
* Percentage of budget from property taxes: 53 percent.
* Percentage of budget from state aid: 33.29 percent.
* Noteworthy: Officials recoded grant allocation funds to pay the salaries of some special-education positions and also tapped the district's federal Education Jobs Act funding to close a $4 million budget gap and retain all teaching positions with no change in the tax levy. The district will share two administrator positions with North Tonawanda City School District: assistant superintendent and director of curriculum and instruction.
* Proposition 2: Would allow the public to vote whenever a contract with the superintendent or a district staff union would involve an increase of $100,000 or more.
The two candidates running for two, three-year terms on the seven-member board were:
* Keith Fox, 78, a retired financial planner for SunAmerica Securities and a former social studies and economics teacher at LaSalle High School in Niagara Falls for 20 years. If elected, this will be his second term. His first term was served from 2007 to 2010. He did not seek re-election last year.
* Michael Gentile, 56, associate professor of sports management at Niagara University. If elected, this will be his second term. His first term was served from 2007 to 2010. He did not seek re-election last year.
Incumbents Robert Weller and Edward Waller did not seek re-election.

Lockport

* Candidates (Elect three to three-year terms; elect one to a one-year term): Anthony P. Molinaro(2,452); Roy Joseph O'Shaughnessy (2,429); David M. Nemi (i) (2,261); Thomas W. Fiegl (i) (2,263); Regina L. Marker (2,035); Paul R. Black (1,976); Louisa Smith (1,921).
* Total budget: $79 million, up 2.6 percent. Passed (Yes, 2,714; No, 1,915).
* Proposition 2: To allow sale of DeWitt Clinton Elementary School to Niagara County Head Start. Passed (Yes, 3,302; No, 1,354.)
* Proposition 3: $19 million capital project to improve buildings. Passed (Yes, 2,744; No, 1,935).
* Proposition 4: $5.9 million capital improvements on athletic facilities. Failed (Yes, 2,313; No, 2,365.)
* Property tax rate per $1,000 assessed value: $24.94 per $1,000, up 4.9 percent.
* Taxes on $100,000 home (market value): $1,855 with Basic STAR.
* Percentage of budget from property taxes: 43.1 percent.
* Percentage of budget from state aid: 49.7 percent.
* Noteworthy: City residents are in the process of undergoing a reassessment of property values, whereby taxes are expected to decrease by $1.55 per $1,000 assessed value. If all things were to remain the same as last year, however, homes with the Basic STAR exemption would see an increase of $176.37 per year.
* Proposition 2: Would allow the sale of DeWitt Clinton Elementary School for $4,500 to Niagara County Head Start, the nonprofit organization the district leased the building to for the current year at the same price. The group provides early education and day care services to children of low-income families. All proceeds from the sale would be deducted from the state building aid the district still receives for the building.  Passed.
* Proposition 3: Would allow district officials to use $881,520 from its capital reserve fund to complete an infrastructure improvement project for six buildings totaling nearly $19 million. The state would contribute about $18.1 million in the form of building aid. In the event of changes to the state's building aid formula, the district would expend up to an additional $1.9 million from its capital reserve fund to ensure the project would come at no additional cost to taxpayers. Construction work at the six elementary school buildings would include repairs to roofing and concrete, enhancement of lighting systems, the repaving of sidewalks and parking lots, the addition of three new playgrounds and a new and upgraded district-wide data infrastructure.  Passed.
* Proposition 4: Would allow the use of $211,232 from the capital reserve fund to undertake a capital upgrade of the district's athletic facilities totaling $5.9 million, as long as three conditions are met: voters also must adopt Proposition 3; the State Education Department must approve the capital project; and private outside donations of $750,000 must be raised by June 30, 2012. The state would contribute about $4.9 million in the form of building aid. In the event of changes to the state's building aid formula, the district would expend up to an additional $530,000 to ensure the project would come at no additional cost to taxpayers. The majority of funds would be used to build a multipurpose field complex large enough to house sectional events in sports such as lacrosse and soccer. Improvements also would be made to district tennis courts and football practice fields. Failed.
* Voters were asked to approve a $79 million spending plan, which stands to raise the tax levy by a true rate of more than 4.5 percent, despite $3.9 million in expenditure cuts.The spending plan cuts the equivalent of 36.5 full-time positions. Roughly $1 million in savings was found with a plan to reorganize the district and convert the two middle school buildings into one that houses fifth and sixth grades and another that houses seventh and eighth. If the plan was not approved, the district would have been  forced into a contingency budget for the second year in a row and would have had to find roughly $566,000 in additional cuts, Superintendent Terry Ann Carbone said. The district has lost more than $8 million in state aid over the past two years. Last year, officials closed two elementary schools and cut 38 positions.
There were seven candidates for three, three-year terms on the nine-member board:
* Incumbent Thomas W. Fiegl, 68, a retired police captain of 25 years who worked for the Lockport City Police Department for 35 years. If elected, Fiegl will serve his third term.
* Incumbent David M. Nemi, 53, a college business professor at Niagara County Community College for 25 years. If elected, Nemi will serve his third term.
* Roy Joseph O'Shaughnessy, 61, owner of Oak Run Golf Club. If elected, O'Shaughnessy will serve his first term.
* Anthony P. Molinaro, 38, a building trades instructor for Orleans-Niagara BOCES at Niagara West Center for four years. If elected, Molinaro will serve his first term.
* Regina L. Marker, 35, a stay-at-home mom with 11 years teaching experience in the Lyndonville school district. If elected, Marker will serve her first term.
* Paul R. Black, 59, a technical field support worker at Syracuse Supply for 30 years. If elected, Black will serve his first term.
* Luisa Smith, a stay-at-home mom who served as president of the John E. Pound Elementary School Parent Teacher Association for two years.
The fourth highest vote-getter is elected to finish the unexpired term previously held by Allan Jack, who resigned two years ago. Incumbent Marietta Schrader was appointed to Jack's seat for one year at the time, but she did not seek re-election. Incumbent Margaret Lupo also did not seek re-election.

Newfane

* Candidates (Elect two to three-year terms): Incumbent Patrick Kilcullen (545), James Little (482), Debra Workman (447) and Frederick Pieszala (229).
* Total budget: $31.5 million, down 2.8 percent. Passed (Yes, 598; No, 348).
* Property tax rate per $1,000 assessed value: $27.22 per $1,000, up 2 percent.
* Taxes on $100,000 home (market value): $2,722.
* Percentage of budget from property taxes: 39 percent.
* Percentage of budget from state aid: 50 percent.
* Noteworthy: The plan calls for a district reorganization, with fourth grade moved to Newfane Elementary School and fifth grade moved to the middle school. The Early Childhood Center would become a full-day school, allowing for savings in the transportation budget. The budget also includes bringing Advancement Via Individual Determination, or AVID, to eighth- and ninth-graders, a program to encourage college readiness for students who struggle academically.
* Voters were asked to approve a $31.5 million spending plan that uses $3.2 million in reserve funds to balance the budget at the contingency level. The district suffered the loss of $1.6 million in state aid and cut its administrative budget by almost 2.5 percent.
There were four candidates for two, three-year terms on the seven-member board:
* Incumbent Patrick Kilcullen, 49, vice president of finance at Ciminelli Development Co. for 2 1/2 years. If elected, Kilcullen will serve his second full term.
* Debra Workman, 23, a social worker with Kidspeace Foster Care who is attending University at Buffalo in pursuit of a master's degree in social work.
* Frederick Pieszala, 59, a business owner and retired Delphi Harrison employee of 33 years.
* James Little.
Incumbent Cynthia Ames did not seek re-election.

Niagara Falls

* Candidates (Elect two to five-year terms): (Elect 2): Robert M. Restaino (1,689); Carmelette Rotella (i) (1,258); Joseph Marinello Jr. (913); Duane Thomas Jr. (844); Jeanette Stypa (749).
* Total budget: $121.1 million, down 4 percent. Passed (Yes, 1,689; No, 1,004).
* Property tax rate per $1,000 assessed value: $18.815 per $1,000, unchanged from this year.
* Taxes on $100,000 home (market value): $1,882.
* Percentage of budget from property taxes: 19.9 percent.
* Percentage of budget from state aid: 73.5 percent.
* Noteworthy: For the 18th consecutive year, the School Board has adopted a budget proposal with no increase in the tax levy. The amount of money to be raised by local school taxes remains unchanged at $25.1 million. To achieve this result, an estimated 101 staff positions will be eliminated, as will the Niagara Falls High School summer camp and the children's day-care program at the Community Education Center.
* The candidates for two five-year terms on the School Board were:
* Carmelette Rotella, 63, a retired teacher and guidance counselor in the city school system and teachers union executive.
* Duane Thomas Jr., 28, a minister, founder and pastor of Changing a Generation Ministries in Niagara Falls.
* Jeanette Stypa, 57, a former member of the School Board who served for 16 years, and who now supports term limits for School Board members.
* Robert M. Restaino, 51, a former judge who served on the benches of five different courts but was removed because of an incident involving a ringing cell phone in 2005 in one of his courtrooms.
* Joseph Marinello Jr., 38, a stay-at-home father of four children who suffered a career-ending back injury while working for Rural Metro Medical Services in 2002.
Incumbent Robert Kazeangin Jr. did not seek re-election.

Niagara Wheatfield

* Candidates (Elect three to three-year terms, a fourth for remaining year on unexpired term): Rich Halleen (1,053); David Breier (814); Christopher Peters (809); Steven Sabo (552); Daniel Maerten (552). Sabo and Maerten tied for fourth. Kevin Smith (i) (523); Richard Sirianni (522); Michelle Hoerner (i) (522); William Conrad (i) (502); Demonthenes Klidonas (47).
* Total Budget: $62.9 million, down 9 percent. Passed (Yes, 1,003; No, 629).
* Property tax rate per $1,000: $21 projected average for homestead properties; $28.51 projected average for non-homestead, up 3 percent.
* Taxes on a home valued at $100,000: $2,100.
* Percentage of budget from taxes: 40 percent.
* Percentage from aid: 48 percent.
* Noteworthy: A reduction in state aid of more than $4 million for next school year has forced the first job eliminations in a number of years. Slated to be cut are 11 teachers, four school-related personnel and two administrative positions, including the athletic director. Superintendent Carl Militello has taken a voluntary 3-percent pay cut and removed the mileage clause from his contract.
* The candidates for three, three year school board terms, as well as an unexpired year in a fourth seat, were:
* Incumbent board president William Conrad, who's had 24 years in the military and works with the State Dormitory Authority.
* Incumbent Michelle Hoerner, who works for Island/Tonawanda Pediatrics.
* Incumbent Kevin Smith, a sergeant with the Niagara County Sheriff's Office.
* Demonthenes "Denny" Klidonas, operates First Step Child Care and sells for a pharmaceutical company.
* Rich Halleen, whose family runs Halleen's Wholesale Cars on Military Road.
* Daniel Maerten, who works for his family plumbing and heating company.
* Christopher Peters, an insurance agent.
* Richard Sirianni, who has been financial secretary for unions and has arranged educational seminars and worked in budgets and banking for the organizations.
* David Breier, who helps manage a manufacturing firm.
* Steven Sabo, a teacher in North Tonawanda.
The fourth-highest vote getter will win the remaining one-year term of the seat vacated by Lori Pittman.

North Tonawanda

* Candidates (Elect two to three-year terms, elect one to a two-year term): Donna Braun (1,177); Frank DiBernardo (i) (1,059); Colleen Osborn (989); Barbara McCarthy (977); Robert Albeiter (838).
* Total budget: $64.6 million, up 4.8 percent. Failed (Yes, 813; No, 1,121.)
* Property tax rate per $1,000 assessed value: $20.64 per $1,000, up 1.95 percent.
* Taxes on $100,000 home (market value): $2,064, or $1,445 with Basic STAR.
* Percentage of budget from property taxes: 49.8 percent.
* Percentage of budget from state aid: 51.2 percent.
* Noteworthy: Officials eliminated freshman and intermediate-level modified sports, as well as the gifted and talented program. The district would lose the equivalent of 59 full-time positions and expend nearly $1 million from its reserve funds.
* Voters were asked to approve a $64.6 million budget that raises the tax levy by 1.95 percent. The loss of $2 million in state aid left officials scrambling to close a $5 million budget gap. The goal was to evenly distribute cuts across the budget, said Superintendent Gregory Woytila, but modified sports and the gifted and talented program were decimated. The district is developing a five-year financial plan for reincorporating programs it cut or reduced back into future budgets.
There were five candidates running for two, three-year board terms on the seven-member board:
* Incumbent Frank DiBernardo, 45, a manufacturing engineer at General motors for 15 years. If elected, DiBernardo will serve his second term.
* Robert Albeiter, 56, owner of Downtown Auto Center in North Tonawanda. If elected, he will will serve his fourth term. He served on the board from 2001 to 2010.
* Donna Braun, 51, a supervisor at Med Recovery Management for eight years. If elected, Braun will serve her first term.
* Colleen Osborn, 35, a registered nurse. If elected, Osborn will serve her first term.
* Barbara McCarthy, 59, an energy assistance worker for the New York State HEAP program.
The third highest vote-getter is elected to finish the unexpired term of Martin Burruano, who resigned his post May 11. Incumbent Michael Carney did not seek re-election.

Royalton-Hartland

* Candidates (Elect three to three-year terms): Jeffrey Waters (i) (498); Keith Bond (i) (484); Kenneth Koch (473).
* Total budget: $22.5 million, down 1.47 percent. Passed(Yes, 406; No, 235).
* Property tax rate per $1,000 assessed value: $22.14 per $1,000.
* Taxes on $100,000 home (market value): $2,214, up 4.8 percent.
* Percentage of budget from property taxes: 40.3 percent.
* Percent of budget from state aid: 50.5 percent.
* Noteworthy: Football is back this year, thanks to a $20,000 donation from the Roy-Hart Sports Boosters Club and additional cuts made by coaches to their team's budgets. The district spending plan calls for $645,000 in cuts and asks to use roughly $375,000 in reserve funds.
Voters were asked to approve a $22.5 million spending plan that comes with a 4.8 percent increase in the tax levy.
The three candidates for three, three-year terms were:
* Incumbent Keith Bond, 54, a part-time caterer and head of summer recreation for the Town of Hartland for three years. If elected, Bond will serve his second term.
* Jeffrey Waters, 42, sergeant for the Middleport Police Department for 18 years. If elected, Waters will serve his second term.
* Kenneth Koch, 49, a network engineer for Erie 1 BOCES for five years. If elected, Koch will serve his first term.
Incumbent Mary Smith did not seek re-election.

Starpoint

* Candidates (Elect three to three-year terms): Joseph Miller (i) (843); Danielle Keller (i) (839); Brett Lombardo (834).
* Total budget: $44.8 million, up 1.4 percent. Passed (Yes, 686; No, 424).
* Property tax rate per $1,000 assessed value: $21.67 per $1,000, up 1.9 percent.
* Taxes on $100,000 home (market value): $2,167; $1,517 with Basic STAR or $1,084 with Enhanced STAR.
* Percentage of budget from property taxes: 54.1 percent.
* Percent of budget from state aid: 39.9 percent.
* Noteworthy: The district saved $550,000 from its retirement incentive program and $180,000 by opening a third- through fifth-grades special education class for eight students in house.
Voters were asked to approve a $44.8 million spending plan with a 3.8 percent increase in the tax levy.
*The three candidates for three, three-year terms were:
* Incumbent Joseph Miller, 47, a sales manager for Veraview, a video conferencing consulting firm, for two years. If elected, Miller will serve his second term.
* Incumbent Danielle Keller, 33, manager of education for Upstate New York Transplant Services for almost four years. If elected, Keller will serve her first full term. She's served on the board since February.
* Brett Lombardo, 41, a consultant for Annese and Associates for six years. If elected, Lombardo will serve his first term.
Incumbent Lisa Taylor did not seek re-election.

Wilson

* Candidates (Elected three to three-year terms and one to a one-year term): John Clement (i) (358); George Waters (i) (343); Don DeLisi (i) (321); Christopher Carlin (one-year term) (i) (369).
* Total budget: $23.4 million, down 1.8 percent. Passed (Yes, 329; No, 116).
* Proposition 2: To establish a capital reserve fund of up to $5 million. Passed (Yes, 316; No, 126).
* Percentage of budget from property taxes: 46 percent.
* Percent of budget from state aid: 46 percent.
* Noteworthy: The budget calls for the loss of roughly 15 full-time positions, including one administrator. Another administrator will be shared with Barker. District officials did not answer questions involving the estimated property tax rate per $1,000 assessed value, the total amount to be raised through property taxes and the estimated taxes on a $100,000 home.
* Proposition 2: Would allow the district to establish a capital reserve fund of up to $5 million. The reserve would be funded by appropriating leftover funds from each year's budget, in amounts determined by the board.
* Voters were asked to approve a $23.4 million budget that was balanced despite the loss of $1.6 million in state aid.
* The three candidates for three, three-year terms were:
* Incumbent Don DeLisi, 56, a controls engineer for Integrated Industrial Resources for three years. If elected, DeLisi will serve his fourth term.
* Incumbent John Clement, 48, maintenance supervisor for Modern Disposal for 22 years. If elected, Clement will serve his third term.
* Incumbent George Waters, who works for RL Stone Co.
If elected, incumbent Christopher Carlin will finish the unexpired term of Jack Hannah, who was elected two years ago. Carlin has served on the board since December.

News Niagara Correspondent Michael Rizzo handled the bulk of this report, with contributions from News Niagara Reporter Richard E. Baldwin and Niagara Correspondent Thad Komorowski.

Clarence School Board candidates

Six people are seeking three seats on the Clarence School Board. They are: Maryellen Kloss, Michael B. Lex, Julie A. McCullough, Brendan Biddlecom, Roy Olsen, Gregory P. Thrun.

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

1. BRENDAN BIDDLECOM

Bidddlecom 

If the Clarence Schools are going to maintain their stellar reputation, we must build a culture of openness, transparency, and mutual trust between all stakeholders. During this year’s budgeting process I saw firsthand how quickly conversations can deteriorate when people sense their voices aren’t being heard, or information is being withheld.

As a long-time Clarence resident with children attending our schools I believe I’m in a unique position to advance the district’s mission and bridge the divide between diverse interest groups. I’ve worked as a teacher, entrepreneur, and volunteer organizer, and currently serve as the Director of Business Development at local energy consultancy--a position that affords me the opportunity to facilitate complex negotiations with CEOs, politicians, policy makers, and everyone in between. I hope to use the unique skill set I’ve developed over the years to build consensus throughout the community via active outreach, including frequent stakeholder meetings, development of a more user-friendly website, and on-site visits to schools and community centers.

Looking ahead, next year’s budgeting process promises to be just as difficult. Further external funding cuts are expected, which means the threat of larger class sizes, fewer services, and the elimination of key staff. It is therefore more important than ever that board members work hand-in-hand with parents, teachers, students, and the community at-large (and do so throughout the year, not a week or two before the budget goes to vote) to ensure our schools remains the envy of the region.

While fiscal matters are sure to dominate future discussions, it’s essential we not lose sight of our primary task, which is to develop caring, compassionate, and intellectually curious children who will have the tools to succeed in college, the workplace, and beyond. With federal Race to the Top dollars already in the pipeline and the state’s Common Core curriculum on the horizon, there will be challenges and also countless opportunities to diversify and enhance the current curriculum. I plan on working tirelessly to make sure these initiatives are not a hindrance, but rather work to the advantage of the district’s students and teaching staff.

To sustain (and hopefully improve) the quality of our schools will take creativity and shared sacrifice. So long as we work with the knowledge that a strong school system is the anchor of a strong community, I’m confident that everyone—students, teachers, and town residents—will benefit.

2. MARYELLEN KLOSS

Kloss 
My husband, David, and I made the decision to move to Clarence Center in 1990 because of
its exemplary school system. Each of our four children has benefited from the opportunity to
excel because of the wonderful teachers and staff in the district.

I earned my BS in Accounting from Daemen College and my MS in Education from Canisius College. I have been the Director of Finances for the Sisters of St. Joseph in Clarence for nineteen years.

Quality education for our children has always been a priority for Clarence residents We all
have chosen to live in this community and made a commitment to provide a sound education for
all students. This has not been done, however, without regard for cost. We expect careful
budgeting and purposeful spending. This is not always easy.

Difficult decisions and review of all expenditures are necessary, especially when state
funding is reduced for all school districts. We recognize the value of our school district to
our community and must continue to offer academic and athletic opportunities that challenge
all students.

My decision to continue to serve as a School Board Member after these past six years grows
from a strong desire to work with other community members to continue the outstanding
educational system that we as parents expect and our children deserve. 

3. MICHAEL LEX

Lex 

The Clarence School System faces two great challenges in the immediate future. For the
first time in twenty years there will be a change in the District's educational leadership. It
coincides with a period of fiscal uncertainty and program contractions. It is important to
have leadership that will facilitate a seamless transition and balance the needs of all
stakeholders. The ultimate goal is to continue the community's tradition of providing an
outstanding public education to its children.

The best way to find solutions to the challenges ahead is with honest, caring, experienced
leadership. As a board member for the past twelve years, I understand the traditions and
values of the community and schools. It is important to preserve those things that make this
District unique.

During the 25 years I have lived in Clarence I have served as President of the Sheridan
Hill PTO and coached over 20 seasons of soccer and baseball at the house and travel levels. I
also served on the Clarence Conservation Advisory Council, which developed the bike paths. I
have a Masters Degree in Public Administration and am currently a supervisor in law
enforcement. I am grateful to the community for the education provided to my children. My
daughter attends the high school and my two sons recently graduated from the district.

Thank you for your past support. I hope I have earned your trust again.

4. JULIE A. McCULLOUGHMccullough 
It would be an honor to continue my service to the residents of the Clarence Central School District as a member of the Board of Education, utilizing my experience as an educatorand parent volunteer.

 

I am a lifelong Western New Yorker, moving to Clarence with my husband in 1975. Widowed in
1993, I continued to live in the Harris Hill with my two children, both graduates of Clarence High School.

I retired in 2007 after teaching Health/Physical Education for thirty seven years at Williamsville South High School. I earned my Bachelor and Master of Education degrees from SUNY at Buffalo.

I have served as: treasurer and co-president of the Harris Hill PTO, Harris Hill School Improvement Team, cochairperson of the Harris Hill Playground Committee, president of the High School Football Boosters and Basketball Boosters, member of the Post Prom Committee, corresponding secretary and copresident of the High School PTO.

While serving as a School Board trustee for the past nine years, I have served on the Erie County Association of School Boards' Legislative Committee and the Clarence Cable TV Committee.

With the many challenges we face, our schools must continue to provide a healthy educational
environment for all children as they develop into lifelong learners. I look forward to assisting the district on its path to continued excellence.

5. ROY OLSEN

Olsen 

My goal is simple: Have our educational system be about the kids and the quality of their education while reducing the town tax levy by 10% over three years by doing the following:

Consolidate with other school districts common non-educational services to create economies of scale and privatize those services.

Establish strategy to receive a portion of the $500M school incentive to increase education performance and efficiency as defined in the NYS budget.

Eliminate three administrative positions; Director of Curriculum, Business Official and Director of Special Education.  Ultimately, re-create these positions through consolidation with other school districts with similar needs.

Revise pay structure for school administrators and highly compensated positions (over $100,000) to reduce their base salary by 30% but create a clearly defined and measurable performance bonus structure of up to 40% of their base salary.

Meet with teachers union proactively and work together to maintain jobs and classroom size.

My belief is that we have too much administration and that it is an easy out to focus on cutting teachers. Once we revise the administration and consolidate non-educational services we can reasonably discuss revisions to teacher agreements. As your middle-aged elected official I will develop, with the Board of Education, a strategy for these recommendations to begin implementation within six months of being elected.

Educationally, in 1979 I received an AAS degree from SUNY Morrisville, continued with coursework at Rochester Institute of Technology and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Southern California University of Professional Studies. Delaware North Companies currently employs me in an executive role.

6. GREGORY P. THRUN

Thrun 

In the coming years, Clarence will be facing many fiscal challenges and it will be the Board of Education's role to creatively address these issues so that students continue to receive a quality education. From New York State's budgetary concerns, to overwhelming mandate issues, it will be the Board of Education’s responsibility to effectively manage the resources at their disposal. With regards to mandates, Board members must pressure their State Representatives to pursue needed relief in order to eliminate many of these unnecessary and costly legislative burdens.  Lastly, in these turbulent economic times, the Trustees must be dedicated to creating a brighter future for our children and community.

I feel that I can achieve these goals having worked in the private sector for 23 years in the field of Human Resources.  I've worked on company budgets, strategic plans, created benefit programs and negotiated union contracts.  As for my own education, I received my B.A. in Political Science and M.B.A. from S.U.N.Y. Buffalo.  I understand the unique difficulties and with my previous experience, I feel I would make an excellent addition to the Clarence Board of Education.

Age: 48 years old

Occupation:  Vice President of Labor Relations - Cornerstone Community Federal Credit Union.

And the final school turnaround plans are...

As many of you know, the Buffalo Public Schools had until Monday to submit turnaround plans for nine low-performing schools.

The Board of Education last Thursday approved those plans, without actually seeing copies of those plans. A number of board members I spoke with were under the impression that no actual plans existed -- and maybe at that point in time, that was true.

The board, you might recall, approved the restart model for seven schools, which will involve the district hiring an outside educational partnership organization (EPO) to run each school.

So board members seemed to be under the impression that the district was going to submit to the State Education Department only a request for proposals for an EPO for each school.

It turns out that the district did, in fact, submit a full plan for each school, more or less.

That being said, the seven EPO model plans do bear striking resemblances to each other. By my count, a full nine pages of those turnaround plans are copied and pasted, with only the school name changed where necessary. That, apparently, is because the outside groups who bid to be EPOs for these schools will have to submit specific plans and budgets, so the district simply used a boilerplate for that portion of the plans.

Will that fly with State Ed?

We'll find out in the next couple of months.

In the meantime, there's a whole lot of valuable information I'd like to share with you about these nine schools.

First: The district had to appoint a Joint Intervention Team (JIT) to visit each low-performing school for a couple of days and submit a report summarizing its findings and recommendations.

That JIT report is supposed to serve as the basis for each school's turnaround plan.

Second: Each school's turnaround plan, which is supposed to outline how that school will improve its performance. Each plan should outline how the $2 million per year, for three years, in federal funds will be effectively spent.

So I am providing you with the JIT report and final turnaround plan for each school. Enjoy.

And let me know what you think of the plans.

The high schools:

Burgard High School: Burgard JIT report; Burgard turnaround plan

Overview: The district submitted a plan for Burgard last summer, after the school was initially identified as low-achieving. (The state rejected that plan, along with a revised version of it.) Much of the core elements of that original plan seem largely intact in this version. Burgard will build on its vocational programs. The plan calls for a "differentiated automotive" program to be available for special education students needing a small class setting.

East High School: East JIT report; East turnaround plan

Overview: At one point, district officials announced plans to make East an all-boys high school, geared toward African-American males. That plan faced substantial opposition from some board members. This plan does not include specific provisions for making East an all-boys school (although it does mention addressing the low graduation rate of that population). Instead, the emphasis is on making it a community school.

Lafayette High School: Lafayette JIT report; Lafayette turnaround plan

Overview: Lafayette was identified as persistently lowest-achieving more than a year ago. The district submitted plans to turn around Lafayette twice last year, but those plans were rejected by the state. This plan for Lafayette incorporates many elements of the plans submitted last year. The school is to become the "International High School at Lafayette," serving students in grades 7-12, in partnership with International School 45, which would serve the lower grades.

Riverside High School: Riverside JIT report; Riverside turnaround plan

Overview: Riverside, like Burgard and Lafayette, was identified more than a year ago as persistently lowest-achieving. This plan appears very similar to the plan the district submitted unsuccessfully last year for Riverside. A cornerstone of the plan is the establishment of three academy programs: finance, health, and entrepreneurship.

The elementary schools:

Bilingual Center School 33: Bilingual Center JIT report; Bilingual Center turnaround plan

Overview: Forty-eight percent of the Bilingual Center's students are not native English speakers. The plan calls for setting clear goals for the bilingual program in the building. Also, it urges turning the school into a "Global Center" that encourages all students to learn Spanish as a second language and offers courses in Spanish to adults.

Buffalo Elementary School of Technology: BEST JIT report; BEST turnaround plan

Overview: The plan calls for an emphasis on what's known in education circles as STEM: science, technology, engineering and math. 

Drew Science Magnet: Drew JIT report; Drew turnaround plan

Overview: Drew is located adjacent to the Buffalo Museum of Science. The school's turnaround plan calls for strengthening the school's identity as a science magnet by overcoming discipline problems, low expectations and low literacy and math scores. 

Futures Academy: Futures Academy JIT report; Futures Academy turnaround plan

Overview: At one point, district officials said they wanted to turn Futures into an all-girls school. They have since dropped that idea. The current plan calls for making Futures into a community school, serving the Fruit Belt.

Waterfront School: Waterfront JIT report; Waterfront turnaround plan

Overview: The population of English language learners at Waterfront grew to 24 percent this year. A cornerstone of the school's plan involves establishing an International Baccalaureate program in the school, to fit with the international student population there.

- Mary Pasciak

E-mail me at mpasciak@buffnews.com or follow me on Follow  SchoolZoneBlog on Twitter Twitter. Check out the Buffalo News' education page at www.buffalonews.com/schools.

School Board candidates offer profiles

Candidates in contested School Board races have shared their bios with The News. Here's a list of the communities with links to candidate profiles:

-West Seneca

-Williamsville

-Cheektowaga-Sloan

-Depew

-Grand Island

-Orchard Park

-Amherst

-East Aurora

-Tonawanda

-Holland

-Clarence

-Eden

-Gowanda

West Seneca School Board candidates

Four people are seeking three seats on the West Seneca School Board: Janice E. Dalbo, Robbin D. List,
Rodney Montgomery and Brendon Najm.

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

1. JANICE E. DALBO

Dalbo 

Serving on the West Seneca Board of Education as a trustee is a real privilege. I take seriously the term "trustee" because it reflects the trust the community gives me as one of the policy makers for our educational system.  When I started my journey as a board member 23 years ago I said I was committed to the Children, the Curriculum and the Community.  In an ever-changing environment immersed with advances in technology and threats of financial crises, that focus remains.

I feel it is important to continue our outstanding educational opportunities for all students; to continue to be proactive with technology to prepare students for their futures; and to continue our record of fiscal responsibility and fairness to our taxpayers.  It is important that we not only remember our "Proud Past" but we dedicate our efforts to our "Unlimited Future" - the children and youth of our town.

I have both Bachelors and Masters Degrees in education and have had a life-long career as an educator.  I am married to Rev. Tom Dalbo, Pastor of the Winchester Community Church.  Our four children are products of West Seneca Schools.  I also serve on the Executive Board of Youth Court, am Vice President of the Historical Society, and direct the Children's Ministries at the church.  For many years I have served on the Erie County School Boards' Legislative Committee and I visit the Legislature in Albany on behalf of our West Seneca Schools.  Along with our staff and fellow board members we have been able to keep stability in our district during very turbulent times.  Our district was a contributing factor to the recent recognition West Seneca received as "the best place in New York State to raise kids."

2. ROBBIN D. LIST

List 

I have a strong history of community involvement with our school district, in that I served as a trustee and Board President in the late '80s and early '90s. This year I was appointed  to complete an unexpired term of a board member who had resigned. 

My wife, Eileen and I  are  now retired and have three children who are all graduates of  the school district. I also have two grandchildren with another one on the way. I am a graduate of the State University College of New York at Buffalo, holding a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree. I have been a West Seneca property owner and taxpayer for over thirty years.

My passionate goal in seeking this position on the board is to  ensure that our students  remain competitive for the rigors of  living in a global society which can only  be accomplished with outstanding staff, fiscally responsible funding,  a solid infrastructure, and strong community support. I have and will continue to serve the community by keeping our student’s  needs and aspirations in the forefront when making decisions about our school system.   

Our board  is  ever mindful of the constantly increasing costs of educating our young people with ever decreasing revenue from the state.

I have always recognized the importance of community service and have a strong desire to “give back” to our community of  West Seneca. I possess the knowledge, experience, time commitment, and desire to fulfill these obligations to our students and community.

I would hope to build upon the high performance of our school district which our parents have come to expect,  our students deserve, and our community supports.

The efforts of our Board this year have ranked us near the top in performance while out of 28 districts in Erie County we rank 19th in spending per pupil, 20th in taxes raised per pupil and 15th in district tax rates.   

I am proud of our school district and will continue to be an advocate for ALL children of the district.    I am hopeful the community will support me in this bid for election.

3. RODNEY MONTGOMERY

Montgomery 

I have been married to my wife, Mary, for 20 years. We have two sons. Rodney is a sophomore at UB.  Matthew is a graduating senior at West Seneca West and culinary student through BOCES. A lifelong resident of West Seneca, I graduated from West Seneca East High School and have an Associates Degree in Liberal Arts / Social Science from Erie Community College. My Bachelors degree in Legal Studies is from the State University of New York at Buffalo.

I have been employed by Paralegal Services of Buffalo since August 1987 and currently hold the position of vice-president.

I am asking for your vote to help provide our school district with innovative new ideas while keeping our school taxes affordable. With my education and business experience, I can make the hard decisions, that our schools need, to be competitive in today’s economic tough times. I will be an activist for the best education that can be provided for our students, while monitoring every dollar spent.

West Seneca Schools have afforded me the opportunity to succeed. I would like to help give all of our children a better opportunity to succeed in today’s ever changing world.

4. BRENDON NAJM

Najm 

I am Brendon Najm, a candidate for the West Seneca Board of Education. Despite my age, I believe I am more than capable of representing my community and serving them better than any other candidate. My experiences thus far in life and core values make me qualified to take on this public service.

To begin, I am a graduate of West Seneca East Senior from 2010. I graduated with a Regents Diploma with Advanced Designation and Honors. During my high school career I was able to achieve the rank of Eagle Scout in the Boy Scouts of America in a troop that meets out of Northwood Elementary. Now, my college career is beginning at Canisius College, where I study Political Science, Urban Studies, and Communications. I am hoping to have a lasting political career and believe a foundation in the West Seneca Central School District is an ideal place to demonstrate my character, beliefs, and competence.

I believe my young age can help the Board of Education. I bring a youthful perspective from somebody who recently came out of their system. I have witnessed first-hand what goes on in the district. I also felt the impact of every decision made by district management. I feel in-tune with the students and parents of today as they build for a brighter tomorrow. My participation in a multitude of programs and educational opportunities (including Advanced Placement) makes me rather valuable.

I am striving to be a fiscally responsible candidate. I hope to give students, parents, and others in the community the most bang for their buck when it comes to their tax dollars and the education provided. I am hoping that taxes can be capped so they don’t continue to rise as they have consistently in years past. I am well aware of budget cuts by the state that push this goal further from reality, but I’m still optimistic it is something we can accomplish with hard work and perseverance. One can do this by carefully breaking down the budget and determining the importance of each aspect. In these tough economic times, when just about everybody is making sacrifices, it is up to us to be as efficient as we can be.

When saying this, I don’t want to give the impression that I’ll be wielding the big, ugly ax and taking it to everything the students and parents hold dear. For example, I am a supporter of arts education within the district. As a product of the music program at East Senior, I believe that arts education develops students in ways other disciplines don’t as well as taking their core classes and applying it to something real, like producing music and artwork. The production of music and art applies history, science, math, and many other skills we know to be important in a well-rounded student.

Responsibility is extremely crucial when the foundation of the next generation is in your hands. I cannot assure voters enough that I will take this opportunity very seriously and give the community my best. I want to be held to the highest of standards. I also want the West Seneca Central School District to be a shining example to all others in the state. I would like all voters in the upcoming election to consider me worthy of their vote. Their voices will speak loud and clear on election day.

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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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