May 11, 2011 - 2:54 PM
May 11, 2011 - 12:07 PM
All the candidates submitted information to the Williamsville Parent Teacher Student Association about why they were running and also responded to the following request from the PTSA:
"The Williamsville School District is confronting 'one of the most difficult financial challenges faced by school districts in decades,' with a projected shortfall of over $8 million. In light of this financial scenario and as painful and difficult that this may be, what specific non-mandated programs would you recommend cutting or eliminating and which programs would you fight to retain?"
1. PATRICIA M. LOSITO
As a mother, nurse, and educator I provide a unique perspective that other candidates do not possess. Not only to focus on the K through 12 years, but beyond, to provide the best possible preparation for all children to compete in this global economy. I am a professor department head of nursing at Erie Community College one of the many responsibilities is the nursing departments budget. This experience will be invaluable in the school budget process.
Twenty years ago, my husband and I chose to live in Williamsville because of its exceptional educational system. Williamsville children including my own have benefited from the numerous non-mandated programs. Some of these programs include full day kindergarten, music, and foreign language, modified sports, special education needs, and advanced placement courses. I am an ardent supporter of the above programs plus the implementation of the District Technology Plan. When I am elected I will explore modifications that would not have a direct impact on students. As a Director of Nursing at SUNY Erie Community College, I am responsible and accountable for a multi-million dollar budget. I am the only candidate who has fiscal management experience and who has the ability to analyze line item budgets and discern its impact on student learning; a critical skill set needed at the board level.
2. STEPHEN C. MUNSCHAUER
As current Board VP, I am seeking re-election because I have invested a tremendous amount of time, effort and education to become an outstanding advocate for our community.
I am extremely proficient in understanding the budget process to ensure our budget reflects the values of the community in a fiscally responsible manner. It is critical to have experience at this time of fiscal and regulatory issues at the state level and changes within the District.
The budget process is never an easy one, but is particularly difficult under the current economic climate in New York State. Williamsville has had astute financial planning over the past number of years and maintained an updated a 5 year Financial Plan that has guided us very well through these fiscally troubled times.
Accordingly, we are in better financial shape than most other district in Western New York and are just now starting to face some of the challenges that others have had to deal with the past year or so.
It is this same type of planning and analysis that we turned to, to get us through our budget process this year and look to do the same for next year. We have established a very detailed and well thought out decision making criteria process with over 20 criteria to weigh over. The process is very thorough and looks at all the criteria with input from multiple levels of professionals and stakeholders.
This year, the only one non-negotiable item, Athletic trainers, was one that I put forth with the further caveat that I did not want to see any program eliminated, if possible, that we should only reduce, as necessary, I believe that it will be easier to reinstate, or reverse the reduction, than it would be to re-establish something that was eliminated.
Fortunately, this year, even with the slight reduction in LOTE, Art, and Home & Careers, we have still maintains those programs, even above mandated levels. It is my hope, that within the next 2 to 3 years we will be able to bring these programs back to at least the current levels.
3. MICHAEL J. SCHMIDT
I bring the voice of a parent with two young children as well as a taxpayer in our community. I also bring a fresh and energetic perspective on all matters with an emphasis on financial concerns and process improvement ideas.
I have the vision… I am looking to improve, not dismantle the district like we will see next year. I look to the future of Williamsville schools in the landscape of a diverse, fast-paced, world during changing financial times.
I believe in a strong educational core and the variety of special offerings that has set Williamsville apart from other districts. These are uncertain, difficult fiscal times. We have a challenge. I believe we can meet this challenge. Specifically, since this year’s budget is nearly identical to the contingency budget, I would recommend a “maintenance budget” to vote on- one that consists of no program cuts and/or class size increases. The WCSD voters have consistently voted to support our school system, and I would let them have a choice. This budget essentially does not provide a choice if it is voted down. Let the community decide, and not make assumptions on the few that vocalize their opinions.
I have asked our teachers and educators first-hand about what programs they deem as important for across the district in core subjects as well as the music & arts. As they are a front line to our students, we have a vested interest in listening to their concerns.
The following are my recommendations to maintain (or add back in) for next year’s budget proposal:
• Language Other Than English. (L.O.T.E.): I would have fought hard to retain L.O.T.E. for fifth graders for this year as I know once a program is cut, it rarely makes a return. Offering this program to this age group is “unique” to the WNY community and is what differentiates us for the better. One could argue that we should be finding ways to put L.O.T.E. in grades earlier than 5th, not later.
• Art Education: I am also against reducing the “Art” education requirement from 49 weeks to 40 weeks as “Art” provides a creative outlet and can be viewed as a universal and common language.
• Class Sizes: I would also fight to reduce or maintain current class sizes and not increase them as we will be experiencing next year- all children suffer and lose (from the gifted/advanced to the average to the struggling) with increased class sizes.
· Social Media Education and Safety: I am also a strong proponent for increasing student knowledge and resources on real world / current issue topics such as money matters (saving / credit card problems / debt), social media’s potential problems (Facebook, Twitter, Texting, Internet posts) and bullying.
The following are my recommendations to cut from next years proposed budget:
· Look at trimming costs that are non-educational first and do not effect students. Further central office reductions should be looked at before anything is cut or reduced.
· I would further look at reducing additional ‘team leader’ positions and if there are not enough ‘volunteers’ to assume the extra time requirements, I would look at assigning the work to the assistant principals.
· Discuss cutting keyboarding classes as it is only a 20 week program. This program takes away from 15-20 math/science classes every year.
I believe the following needs further research and discussion that I would lead:
• Analyze transportation expenses and start discussing UB’s “Kid Corridor Zones” study for the WCSD. There are many ideas that can be put up for discussion to reduce line costs.
• Explore charging a premium for attendance in clubs and co-curricular activities as many parents have suggested.
• Change the budget process and timelines next year so that all educators, parents and community members can have a proactive voice in shaping next year’s budget proposals.
• Encourage the superintendent to supply several budget iterations with various options early in the school year so all stakeholders can be involved early in the process.
Finally, I feel it is important to "listen to learn” on all topics prior to having to take a vote. I have attended PTSA council meetings, music booster club meetings and attended school events, and I am continually impressed at the involvement of our teachers, parents and administrators and the excellence that everyone wants. I will have no preconceived decisions until all sides have had a chance to state their case. I thank you for the opportunity to discuss my ideas in this forum and welcome your support in keep our district #1.
4. RONALD S. SHUBERT
I am seeking re-election due to my keen interest in assuring the children of the District a quality education second to none, while recognizing the need to keep tax increases down. I have lived in the District for more than 47 years having attended both Mill Middle and Williamsville South High Schools. I was elected to the School Board in 2000 and have served as Vice President, President and am currently the Parliamentarian.
Williamsville has a long history of being a cutting edge School District. As a School Board Member for the past 12 years, I am proud of our reputation in the Community for academic innovation and fiscal responsibility.
Now facing a $6,500,000 budget shortfall, as well as a possible property tax cap in the 2012-2013, we must find ways to preserve our programs.
The budget presented by the Superintendent includes a small increase in class size guidelines, as well as some program reductions, but no program eliminations. Both home and careers and art instruction will revert to State mandated levels and although language instruction will not be offered in fifth grade, class time it will be increased in sixth grade. Williamsville schools will continue to exceed the state imposed instructional guidelines for LOTE.
No programming will be eliminated and accordingly, as the result of efficiencies and adjustments, Williamsville expects to retain its position as the top School District in Western New York.
In answer to the specific question posed, I would not support the elimination of any programming, unless absolutely necessary, and fortunately, at this time, no program eliminations are being proposed.
5. JAMES F. WAACK
I seek election to the school board because education is my passion. I believe all children deserve to be challenged to their potential. Committed leadership in the district is essential to maintain Williamsville’s mission of high standards for staff and achievement we expect of children. My strong belief in the value of public education, combined with my experience as a teacher, administrator, and volunteer on community boards qualifies me to share in our school’s leadership.
Program cuts are painful and potentially very divisive. Care is needed to minimize division and emotion, and instead focus on student achievement as the basis for elimination or reduction of programming. Once non-direct student areas like administration, physical plant, and bussing are exhausted for savings - a clearly defined - evaluation vehicle measuring student outcomes is needed. A decision-making process that takes into account criteria including: number of students affected, instructional length of time, cost, achievement area tested, etc., serves to diminish emotional inputs into the debate. If conversation can focus on educational results a more reasonable and rational discussion is likely to follow.
Questions of program cuts are painful and potentially very divisive. Great care is needed to minimize emotion and anger in its wake. Once non-student areas like administration physical plant, bussing are exhausted for savings. As programs are assessed for elimination or reduction, it is vital- a clearly defined – evaluation process be developed whose criteria focuses on student achievement. A decision-making rubric with agreed upon parameters such as: number of students affected, instructional length of time, cost, achievement area tested, would diminish emotional inputs into the decision process and instead help keep the conversation focused on defined educational objectives.
May 11, 2011 - 11:38 AM
Two candidates are seeking one seat on the Cheektowaga-Sloan School Board: Denise J. McCowan and Leonard Siwinski. They were invited to tell distrct residents why they are worthy of their vote.
1. DENISE J. McCOWAN
My passion is the students and getting them everything they deserve. I love all the work I have done for them directly and indirectly as a board member. My hope is to be re-elected and continue with this passion. I want to be able to help get back what was taken from them, PIECES OF THEIR FUTURE.
I dedicate many hours to improve myself as a board member. I participate in workshops, seminars, and conferences to better my understanding and ability to do the best job. I have volunteered to help the Erie County School Board Association at the upcoming conference in Buffalo. I am on our interview committee and an Erie County School Board delegate.
This fall I worked with the high school students to expand Spirit week and the homecoming parade. We included all of the schools within the district. This doubled the size of the parade and increased school spirit. I also planned the First Annual Prom/Graduation Expo and Dress Sale that benefitted Children’s Hospital.
I am serving my third year as HS PTO vice president. Over the years I volunteered at many school and PTO events. I have helped organize JFK's Bonfire and Parent’s Sports club fundraisers and for 3 years I organized the HS basketball concession stand.
Recently, I had the opportunity to speak at Tim Kennedy's Roundtable Discussion at Theodore Roosevelt School to stop cuts in state education funding and help promote Families Against Texting at a recent PTO meeting.
My involvement at the schools has made it easy for parents, students, faculty and staff to approach me with their issues. I have brought those issues to the board and we have addressed them as a group.
As a family we have volunteered at the Renaissance House, participated in the American Diabetes Association Walk for eleven consecutive years and the Walk for A Cure for JDRF the past several years.
I live in Cheektowaga with my husband, Bill and son Sean. I am a graduate of West Seneca East High School, Cazenovia College, Buffalo State College and Fashion Institute of Technology. I run a family business in West Seneca.
2. LEONARD SIWINSKI
I am humbly seeking your vote for a position on the Cheektowaga-Sloan Union Free School District Board of Education. I am seeking this position because I am an advocate for the best education for our students at the most affordable cost to our taxpayers.
I am a graduate of Seneca Vocational High School and have been a Cheektowaga Resident for 47 years. I am married to my wife Constance and the father of two J.F. Kennedy graduates.
I retired from the United States Postal Service having held the position of Accounting Technician and Supervisor of Mail Processing.
I am also an active Volunteer Firefighter for Doyle Hose Co. 1 for 41 years and have held numerous offices and have chaired many fundraising events. I am also a 3rd degree Knight with the Father Justin Council and a 4th degree with the KOLBE Council.
May 11, 2011 - 10:30 AM
The parent boycott planned for Monday is attracting media attention beyond Western New York.
Last week, one of my stories about the boycott caught the eye of the folks from the Capitol Pressroom, a public radio show broadcast from Albany. They asked me to join host Susan Arbetter on the show on Monday.
In a short period of time, we hit on a few key topics, from the boycott to the superintendent's future in Buffalo and the district's school turnaround plans.
You can listen to their podcast of the show at http://thecapitolpressroom.org/the-capitol-pressroom-for-may-9-2011/ (It's an hour-long show, and I'm the third guest.)
Sorry for the delay in getting this info out to you. I've heard from a bunch of people who caught the rebroadcast earlier this week on WBFO, and I've heard from others who missed it, but were interested in hearing the show.
The past couple days have been very busy behind the scenes. I'll be spending some time today and tomorrow getting you caught up on some of the goings-on related to the Buffalo schools.
Thanks for your patience, and stay tuned.
- Mary Pasciak
May 10, 2011 - 1:18 PM
All were invited to tell distrct residents why they are worthy of their vote.
All were invited to tell distrct residents why they are worthy of their vote.
1. STEVEN 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
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
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
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
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.
May 10, 2011 - 12:11 PM
Seven people are seeking three seats on the Grand Island School Board. They are: Myrna F. Blair; Brian Chapin; Emily L. Ciraolo; Joan A. Droit; Richard J. Little Jr.; Phyllis Stallard; and Takayuki (Tak) Nobumoto.
All were invited to tell distrct residents why they are worthy of their vote. Three of the candidates responded.
1. EMILY L. CIRAOLO
That includes me.
I plan to fill a void. The board lacks communication and transparency. I observed, listened and voiced my concerns at board meetings. I received opinions rather than factual answers. The superintendent and some board members came across defensive and rude.
That's not good enough for me.
A school board's primary function is to provide a system of checks and balances to ensure funds are spent to benefit the majority of students in the most effective ways - and do so with respect to taxpayers. That requires sound research.
The board should not alienate the public. It should listen to residents, and gather information and facts to support their decisions. That can be done through online surveys, for example. Residents deserve to voice their opinions, ask questions and receive answers without the fear of backlash or rude responses. Residents deserve to know the facts.
Look at the International Baccalaureate (IB) program. Residents, including taxpayers, teachers, parents and students, expressed concerns. Now is not the time to implement new, costly programs. We are in the midst of a financial crisis like many other districts around the state.
The superintendent and board ignored community concerns. They reiterate that the IB program will provide critical thinking skills that Advanced Placement (AP) classes do not. They remind residents to ask questions, learn the facts and to ignore gossip.
I asked a simple question. How much?
The superintendent failed to provide me and taxpayers with a comprehensive IB budget breakdown. Costs, such as teacher training, are hidden deep within the budget. According to the superintendent, there are no costs to train teachers contradictory to research I've done and, in fact, what one board member told me. That board member has repeatedly expressed concerns and not received answers. Read carefully: A board member is not privy to that information.
The board should act as the front lines of communication to residents. Instead, they are not even provided with the necessary tools to effectively carry out their responsibilities.
That's not good enough for me.
I'm poised and committed. I'm proud of my hometown. I'm not afraid to ask questions or challenge decisions. I set goals and achieve them. I lead - not follow. My resume proves that. Read it online at CommonSenseGISB.com.
Vote for me. The answers "because I can" or "people wanted it" aren't answers. They're opinions. They aren't good enough for me, and they shouldn't be good enough for you. Vote for Common Sense.
2. JOAN A. DROIT
Joan A. Droit, a candidate for one of three seats on the Grand Island Board, was born, raised, and educated in the city of Buffalo. She is a graduate of P.S. 78 and Kensington High School. She earned both her Bachelors of Science and Masters of Science degrees at Buffalo State College. She has completed additional graduate work at the University at Buffalo, Canisius College and Niagara University.
Miss Droit has taught elementary school, high school English and social studies. She retired after forty years in the Grand Island School District. She also taught for two summers in Niagara Falls, worked for two years as part of the UAW/GM Quality Educators Program at Powertrain. She was part of the Western New York Writers Program at Canisius College, and taught in the summer Young Writers Camp program. Additionally she is trained as a BBB Consumer Advocate.
Miss Droit leads a weekly Book Discussion Group at the Island Golden Age Center. She is on the executive board of the Miracle League of GI/WNY, a director of the Peace Education Fund, a member and past president of the Grand Island Historical Society, a member of Zonta, and a parishioner of St. Stephen’s Church.
Miss Droit states that she has had a lifelong commitment to children and young adults. Her reasons for seeking a seat on the Board of Education for Grand Island began after she attended board meetings over the past two years seeking information. Her experiences at the School Board meetings left her feeling that the lack of civility and candor by the Board disenfranchised the public and discouraged the public from active participation in the business of their schools. She feels that requiring American Government students to monitor these meetings is ineffective and a misrepresentation of what should be the American philosophy of participatory government.
Miss Droit states that the students of Grand Island respond well to the district’s high academic standards and perform beautifully in the areas of the arts and athletics. She is eager to raise the standards for all students and to find additional opportunities for them to participate in internships and service events.
3. TAKAYUKI NOBUMOTO
As an 18-year resident of the Town of Grand Island I have found that the GI school system has proven to be an excellent investment. Many transplants like me have been attracted to this town and have grown deep roots in the community. Many lifelong Grand Islanders would agree that we have a great school system. Equally important are the next generation of residents that we need to continue to attract in order to secure a bright future for the place that we call home. One common thread with all residents is the recognition that Grand Island enjoys a top-notched school system that values academic excellence, fine arts, athletic programs and much more. The excellent reputation of the school system is earned by years of support from the residents, outstanding work by educators and administrators, the involvement of parents and hard work by children.
The primary reason I am running for the privilege of representing the residents of Grand Island on the School Board is to engage in the difficult decisions that will be facing this district as the fiscal forecast in the upcoming years looks dismal. During times of reduced state education funding and ever present state mandates, it is the community’s responsibility to provide the vision for education, both in the present day as well as the future. The community includes the residents, business owners, children, educators, administration and others. I believe that by engaging all of the stakeholders in the community we can begin to have meaningful dialogue that will lead to collaboration, constructive debate, new and innovative ideas and creative solutions that will empower all in the community to become owners and partners in the educational mission of our school system.
I am running for the Grand Island School Board with the following principles:
-- Promote accountability and transparency for and from all stakeholders
-- Engage the community by listening and responding to fellow residents
-- Strive to deliver appropriate programs for all children
-- Ask questions, research and follow-up
-- Practice fiscal responsibility and promote living within our means
By remaining true to these core principles, I will help find ways to lead our school district by injecting Common Sense into the School Board.
I believe we can promote accountability and transparency by engaging key stakeholders and ensuring that debate about issues and concerns are held. We can create accommodating environments for School Board and information meetings that encourage greater participation. We can encourage all groups, be they teachers, clubs, athletic teams, residents, PTA, concerned residents, etc. to participate in meetings and provide their unique perspective and aid in making decisions with critical information and full disclosure of relevant facts and opinions.
I believe we can make it easier for residents to pose their questions and concerns to the administration and School Board. One method can be to use technologies implemented by other school districts such as email, web-based forums and social media to facilitate the electronic dialogue that many residents already use on a daily basis.
One concern that I share with many residents is related to the delivery of appropriate programs for all children. This concern revolves around focusing the priorities to teach the fundamentals, ensuring that children are taught at their level and providing the core values of respect and responsibility. I believe we need to focus on the basics while assisting those that need extra help. Advance programs should be offered based on available resources and community needs and requirements. Balancing what the community can afford with the current needs and the impact to the future of the educational programs will require School Board, school administration, educators and community engagement.
Striking the balance between what we want and what we can afford is the biggest challenge confronting the school district. It is important for the community as a whole to understand the different perspectives of the diverse demographics that support our school system. As such, there is not a clear distinction between supporting the children and supporting the tax payer. In fact, these two groups are so closely tied, that the choice must to be balanced to meet somewhere in the middle. It is the community’s obligation to provide an educational system for its residents. In many ways, this is an investment that the residents make into the future of this town. Having moved into the Western New York region, relocating specifically to Grand Island was primarily motivated by the outstanding reputation of the school system. This was the town that I wanted to raise my children in and provide them with an excellent education. The Grand Island schools have lived up to the promise of delivering a first class education for my three children. My children have learned much, and gained much from the superb educators in basic and advance subject areas. They have all enjoyed participating in the areas of the music and sports. It should be noted that the Grand Island Music Department, perennially, achieves the highest scores in many music competitions. This year is no exception.
I will use my many years of experience in the health care industry, to bring a pragmatic and frank voice to the School Board. Health care shares many commonalities with education. Both deliver critical services to communities. Both have aging infrastructure that require updating and maintenance. Both are experiencing cuts in state aid. Both are highly regulated with state mandates. Both are constantly debated as a large component of a typical household budget. Yet both are critical to have and both serve to meet a fundamental societal need.
In order to preserve the excellence our school system has earned we must all work together to compromise, collaborate, communicate and innovate to secure the bright future that Grand Island needs in its school system.
I ask all residents to vote for me and the other two candidates that have Common Sense in order to lead the school district to a bright future.
For more information, please visit ww.CommonSenseGISB.com.
May 10, 2011 - 10:54 AM
All were invited to tell district residents why they are worthy of their vote.
1. RACHEL BAKSA
I am seeking re-election to the Orchard Park school board as I believe that it takes a good two to three years to get a full grasp on what a good board member should be. Since being elected in 2008, I sat back and listened to seasoned members, attended trainings, and have put many hours of research into how to be the best board member I could be. Attending meetings, setting policies, approving budgets, and being sensitive to the taxpayers' are just several of the tasks that we as board members have. It is not a job to be taken lightly, and it is one that I take pride in doing.
I attended ECC South in 2005 to aquire my Emergency Medical Technician certification, followed by working at Rural Metro Amulance Co for 2 years. I also served as a volunteer for the Newton Abbott Fire Co for apprx 2 years as a Firefighter and EMT. As my children are all very active in sports, I help as manager of several teams including baseball, football, cheerleading and hockey. I am currently a stay-at-home mom, and a member of the PTO's at the Orchard Park High School and Windom Elementary. I enjoy serving on several committees, both in the Orchard Park district and Erie County School Board Assoc.
As a mother of five, I care deeply about my own children's education and want the best for them, as well as the other children in the Orchard Park school system. I attended the district in middle and high school, so I had the benefit of experiencing this first hand. The quality of education this district provides is something to be proud of, and I would be honored to serve again on the School Board.
2. DAVID NIELSEN
believe that the ability to receive a strong public education is important to society and that community service is an integral part of being a good neighbor. Orchard Park is a great place to live and raise my daughter (2nd grade South Davis) and I would like to volunteer my time and talents to benefit the community. I feel that the Board of Education is the best fit based on my abilities and would be the place where I could make the biggest impact. I would appreciate your vote on May 17th.
I’m currently employed as the Director of Information Technology and Internal Operations with Catholic Medical Partners and daily work with budgets, policies and procedures. My background in Biology education, statistics and allows me to work with information at both the individual and population levels and reconcile the inherent differences between them.
While I personally would prefer to see more of the dollars allocated to the academic programs, the school budget process is a balancing act between the need to provide a solid education, including co-curricular activities, to the students of the district and the ability for the residents to fund it. Every district in the state is facing the same budget constraints that we are, but we still need to move our academic programs forward. There is no reason why we could not be the top ranked district in Western New York.
Thank you for taking the time to read this and for voting on the 17th.
3. THOMAS PRINCE
I am seeking your vote for school board because I would like to be given the chance to make a positive impact on our Orchard Park Community. My wife and I fell in love with this community when we decided to move here with our three young boys six years ago. Now that our district is facing some tough challenges, I feel that I am a good candidate to help us through it.
First off, I am a father and have a vested interest in my children’s education. I value a good education, being a graduate of Business Administration from Columbia College. As a businessman, I deal with budgets on a daily basis. My many volunteer experiences in the community including Director of Baseball for the Orchard Park Little League, coaching for football and basketball, has allowed me to hear from parents first hand on what good looks like in Orchard Park schools.
As a board member I would look to further analyze the budget. How can we expect taxpayers to pay more taxes than a cost of living increase when many families aren’t even getting that! There are more cuts that can be done without jeopardizing the integrity of our student’s education. As a board we need to find the fat in the budget and start to eliminate it before we even consider a tax hike. We need to be cautious about raising class sizes at the elementary level. We need to manage creativity and use our community as the valued resource it is.
4. SEAN WITTMANN
Orchard Park as a community and the school district are extremely important to who I am as an individual and to my children and extended family. I decided to run for school board this year primarily because I believe that individuals should attempt to serve their greater community in whatever manner they’re most able and comfortable doing so. I believe that at this point in my life, I am qualified, able, and willing to serve this community and will make an excellent advocate for the public as a member on the Orchard Park Central School District Board of Education.
My simplified philosophy on a board member’s role is that they are elected to be a voice for the community as a whole. I believe that this community wants the Board of Education to ensure that the children in it receive the best possible opportunity to succeed in life without allowing the cost of educating them in this manner to become so prohibitive that everyone in the district cannot afford to continue living in and contributing to it.
To the taxpaying residents of the community I will say to you that I will work with the school’s unions and employees to continue to find ways operate at an efficient level. I believe the current board and past boards have done an admirable job at this (15th most efficient in state). However, there is room for improvement. I believe this improvement can most effectively be achieved by proactively working with these employees to identify and reduce spending on expenses that are not currently improving the quality of the education our children receive. I also think we can do a better job identifying additional revenue streams in the form of both public and private grants and working to receive them.
In addition, I have and will continue to publicly state that I will never vote for any budget that increases class size in any way from current levels and will work to decrease it as well. There is no magic bullet that leads to increased student achievement and by extension an increase on the taxpayers return on investment. However, keeping class size a reasonable level is the most significant variable that research indicates does effect achievement. I realize that by extension this means it’s unlikely I would vote in favor of staff cuts. Again, I say to the residents most concerned with tax rates that appropriate academic class size will ensure the best return on investment of your tax dollars. This return on investment is the underlying foundation of my stand against increased class size. In my current job, I work on a daily basis with some of the most well respected and qualified education researchers in the country. While they disagree on many things, all will point to appropriate class size as critical to achievement and critical to efficient operation.
To the teachers, administrators, staff, and residents of the district I promise a board member who will remain extremely open to communication and suggestions from you on how to better educate and better finance our district. By always voting to keep class sizes appropriate, it is likely I will need you to work with me and fellow board members to find ways to afford this. I will work to proactively inform you of how I feel on whatever issues arise and challenge you each to do the same.
I believe that Orchard Park has a wonderful school district representative of the community that built and supports it. I don’t believe that any radical changes are necessary but continual improvement, rather than maintenance, should be our goal. By voting for me you will be voting for a person who will consistently be asking everyone involved in the district how we can improve and better serve the children we are educating and the residents of the community. You’ll also be voting for someone who will be forced on a regular basis to look into the eyes of his children, taxpaying retirement aged parents, taxpaying neighbors, and reaffirm that I consistently vote with each of them in mind.
May 10, 2011 - 10:47 AM
All were invited to tell distrct residents why they are worthy of their vote.
1. ANN MARIE CAROSELLA
I am seeking a second term on the Amherst Central School Board so that I can continue to contribute to the ongoing goals of assuring a quality education for all students at a difficult time when expenses are increasing and resources are decreasing. During my first term, I am proud to have served on a team that found creative ways to reduce expenses such as maximizing state aid for technology, increasing transportation efficiencies, and collaborating with non-public schools to reduce transportation costs.
Academically, our district remains strong, bolstered by recent board supported initiatives such as an in-house high school summer school, culturally responsive staff training, and intensive professional development in math education. My research background provides analytic skills and appreciation for evidence-based best practices useful to the strategic planning and decision-making of the board.
I serve on the district Technology, Safety, and Policy sub-committees, and volunteer weekly with district students. Currently, I utilize my past teaching experiences to help Middle School students with homework after school. Previously, I volunteered for nine years at Smallwood’s reading center.
I graduated from Colgate University, received an M.A. from William and Mary, and a Ph.D. in Social Psychology from Princeton University. After completing our post-doctoral training at the University at Rochester, my husband Jeff Lackner and I moved back to WNY 17 years ago. Presently, I am employed as a Co-Investigator of an NIH grant at the University at Buffalo. Both our daughter Rachel (grade 10) and son Benjamin (grade 7) attend Amherst Central schools.
2. ERNEST HAUSMANN
Why do I feel qualified to be on the Amherst School Board?
-- I had 34 years of experience in teaching as a Professor of Oral Biology at SUNY at Buffalo.
-- I have watched my four children and three grandchildren go through the Amherst School System.
How come I decided at this time to run for the School Board?
Recently I have had many discussion about education with a grandson who is completing a master's program at UB in Literacy Education. He said, "Grandpa you have such good ideas about education. Why don’t you run for the school board.” So here I am.
My philosophy of education is that it be thorough and comprehensive to include besides the traditional academic subjects, music, art and sports. A reasonable budget should be available to fulfill this mission. If cuts are required, modest decreases should first be examined in the non-academic part of the program such as busing and administration. If not enough money seems to be available for teaching a modest tax increase should be recommended for consideration.
Am I able at this stage of my life, age 81, take on such a demanding responsibility?
Yes! Presently I am Chief Scientific Adviser for a local startup software company.
Conclusion: Based on the above information I hope you will consider to vote for me. Thank you.
3. ILANA LANE
Dr. Illana R. Lane earned a Ph.D. and a master’s degree from SUNY at Buffalo. She completed her undergraduate studies at Pennsylvania State University. Dr. Lane is the Dean of the School of Education at Medaille College.
Dr. Lane is originally from East Hampton and has resided in the Amherst Central School District with her husband, Darrell, and two children, Darrell and John, since 2002. Both boys attend Amherst Middle School and are in grades 7 and 6, respectively. She has been involved with the Windermere Leadership Team, the PTA, and the Pre-K Advisory Committee.
Dr. Lane is on the executive board of the New York Association of Teacher Educators (NYSATE), and is an active member of the Buffalo Chapter of Jack and Jill of America Inc., and Delta Kappa Gamma. She has received recognition from Madison Who’s Who of Executives and Professionals and Who’s Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges. In addition, Dr. Lane has received the Apple Award for teaching and the Medaille College Sojourner Truth Leadership Award.
Dr. Lane has been an educator for the past 21 years. She is seeking re-election to the Amherst Board of Education because she is a parent committed to a safe learning environment for all children, diversity, academic consistency, effective instruction, and accountability to Amherst stakeholders. Her goals are to serve the Amherst school district and stakeholders by providing a fair perspective that encompasses broad views that continue to improve the school district. With a background in education and a history of volunteer involvement in the school, Dr. Illana R. Lane is willing to serve.
May 9, 2011 - 11:37 PM
Six candidates are seeking three seats on the East Aurora School Board. They are: Jessica Byrnes Armbrust; Daniel Brunson; Judy Malys; Nicole Morris-McLaughlin; James Whitcomb; and Stephen Zagrobelny.
All were invited to tell distrct residents why they are worthy of their vote.
1. JESSICA BYRNES ARMBRUST
As a mother of two young East Aurora students and a 1989 graduate of East Aurora High
School, I appreciate and strongly support our public school system. With a B.S. from Boston
University (Magna Cum Laude) and 10+ years of private sector project management experience, I
have the skills needed to work collaboratively to find solutions to current and future
challenges facing our district.
As a native of East Aurora, I care about the students of our district and see serving on
the Board as an opportunity to make a positive impact in their lives. In our society we have
the right and responsibility to give back. I have the time and energy to be an effective board
member who is open minded and committed to quality public education for all the children in
our district. The excellence of our public schools helped my husband and me in our decision to
settle our family in East Aurora, and now I want to do all I can to ensure that our schools
continue to offer our children the best educational opportunities possible.
Let's Talk Money
The current EA Board of Education had the arduous task of closing a $1.8M budget gap;
unfortunately, this won't be the last year we face this difficulty. In this tight economic
time it is especially important for everyone involved in our educational community to come to
the table with an open mind and a desire to balance the needs of all. I will work tirelessly
to that end.
As we continue to work with budget constraints, I would like to see the Board take a
proactive approach to reducing overhead in ways that have minimal impact on the students. As
a Board member I would like to see where we can save costs by working collaboratively with
neighboring districts, look into grants that will offset some of our program expenses, and
ensure we are as energy efficient as possible. I will work collaboratively with the rest of
the Board as well as the administration and teachers to find appropriate solutions to all
challenges that face our district.
What about the kids?
Everything we do as an educational community is important for the kids. My primary focus
as a Board member will be to provide them with the best educational experience possible. When
it comes to our tough financial decisions, we need to look at what impacts the least number of
children and be fair across the board. Most importantly, before we make cuts, we need to see
where we can be creative about our resources. Additionally, as a district we need to be
mindful of the added academic pressures being put upon our younger students and ensure they
have a proper foundation on which to build a lifetime of learning.
My Primary Goals
-- take a proactive approach to reduce overhead while helping to minimize the impact on the
-- facilitate improved communication between key players in the district
-- support teachers and administration in maintaining creativity in the classroom while
integrating Common Core State Standards into the curriculum
-- ensure adequate support for our elementary and middle school students to enable them to
meet the coming challenges and attain the same success as our high school students of today
Meet the Candidate
Salutatorian of EAHS class of 1989
Graduated Magna Cum Laude from Boston University's College of Communication
10+ years private sector project management experience
Served for 3 years as Treasurer of East Aurora Preschool Center
Wife of Joe and mother of Greta, age 8 and Spencer, age 5
2. DANIEL BRUNSON
I have lived in the East Aurora community for over 40 years, spending most of that time as
a teacher and school administrator. Helping to build a tradition of excellence in our schools
has been my goal. It has been my privilege to serve on the Board of Education for the
past nine years, currently as Board President. Meeting challenges with problem solving and
consensus building has been my approach as a board member. I believe strongly in open public
debate on educational issues.
Community service is my personal commitment. I am a member of the Kiwanis Club, Aurora
Players and Vice-President of the East Aurora Educational Foundation.
East Aurora is an exceptionally fine school district, due in large part to supportive
parents, hard working students, dedicated staff, and to a community that is proud of, and
stands behind its schools.
Business First ranks East Aurora third among 97 western New York districts. I appreciate
the opportunity to continue to serve the community as a member of the Board of Education,
striving to build upon our tradition of excellence while working hard to keep spending levels
affordable for the taxpayers.
3. JUDY MALYS
As a recently retired East Aurora teacher I bring 21 years of creative problem solving
experience in education to the field of current candidates. I have a grandson in the high
school and one at Parkdale and another in the wings! I have taught third grade to eighth grade
and coordinated the former gifted and talented program at middle school level for five years.
I had always planned on volunteering when I retired and the school board is the perfect
opportunity to both volunteer and use my personal expertise. I have a clear and current
understanding of what is necessary to meet federal and state educational standards. I believe
I bring to the equation a profound sensibility of what it means to be educationally sound.
The financial times in which we find ourselves are unprecedented. I know we will have to
consider further efficiencies. I'd like to see us be as creative about this process as
possible by engaging our collective expertise.
Areas of exploration might include:
Identifying fiscal conservation through discovery committees made up of parents, teachers
and a board member.
Collaborating with the Boys and Girls club and recreation department to enhance athletics
at the middle school level.
Empowering teacher/coordinators to review curriculum and manage scheduling of events and
games as they did in the past.
Seeking opportunities to procure grants and group sponsorships to support educational
efforts might be a possibility.
Offering the other half-day of kindergarten perhaps though a tuition option, if necessary,
so parents wouldn't need to have their child transported elsewhere to enhance their
kindergarten experience. This would offer greater consistency and quality to the early
As I just said, I go on record for believing that full-day kindergarten is essential to the
quality educational foundation needed in today's world. A discovery committee of teachers,
administrator, parent representatives and a board representative should evaluate all
programming changes. These committees would present their findings and recommendations to the
board for consideration.
4. NICOLE MORRIS-MCLAUGHLIN
The East Aurora School District will benefit from my creativeness and innovativeness,
especially in this time of budget cuts. I will find ways to make our district even better
without it costing the district; I have already done this as a community volunteer. Last year
I planned and organized a community effort to build, fund, and maintain a 1000+ square foot
vegetable garden at Parkdale Elementary.
Through the successful attainment of grants, this project was realized without burdening
the Town of Aurora taxpayers. The teachers are now able to utilize the Garden to teach
science, math, nutrition, language arts, and history in the Garden. This gives children the
practical, hands-on educational experience that is needed for them to compete globally. The
Parkdale Elementary lunch program will be offering vegetables and herbs from the garden this
spring, enriching the selection of offerings for lunch.
My background in the Social Sciences allows me to research, analyze and understand what
makes for a great education today. I will examine how other countries achieve higher math,
reading and science scores than the U.S. while spending less money per student than the U.S.
does. Then I will help apply those findings to the East Aurora Union Free School District.
My goal is to make our school district known for its academic excellence and known for
students and staff that make a difference in their world.
Check out my website.
5. JAMES WHITCOMB
I am currently 58 years old. I am a 1971 graduate of East Aurora High School. I received a
B.A. from Denison University in 1975 and received a J.D. from the University of Toledo,
College of Law in 1982. I am admitted to practice law in New York and currently am a partner
with Phillips Lytle LLP in Buffalo.
I am married to Marian Whitcomb who teaches at East Aurora High School. Both my children,
Carolyn and David, attended East Aurora schools from kindergarten to 12the grade. Carolyn is
in graduate school and David is a senior in college.
I am running for my third term on the East Aurora School Board, because the financial
crisis in the state requires leadership in considering how to deal with the impact of the
crisis on the district. The district must put the education of students first and make
reductions, if necessary, in programs and personnel with this mission in mind.
While we are in tough financial times, we must continue to work to improve this district.
This includes recruiting a new superintendent who is both an educational and community leader,
negotiating new collective bargaining agreements with the Civil Service Association and the
Teacher's Association, and when funds can be identified, implementing all day kindergarten. We
must continue look at achievement in light of the changing standards.
I look forward to working with the members of the board, the administration, the teachers
and the community to continue to improve our District. My consistent goal while serving on the
board will be continue to ensure that students who graduate from East Aurora High School are
prepared to succeed in college and beyond.
6. STEPHEN ZAGROBELNY
East Aurora has a long tradition of providing an exceptional public education uniquely
tailored to best meet the needs of our community. As graduates of East Aurora schools, my
wife, Paula, and I now watch as our eight children work their way through the school system.
I am running for re-election to a fourth term on the East Aurora School Board to continue
to serve the community in helping to guide the decisions and direction of our schools. With
ever escalating expenses and ever shrinking revenues, school board decisions increasingly
require thoughtful and knowledgeable deliberation with the ability to make difficult choices
while still seeking to preserve the aspects that make East Aurora exceptional.
In my first nine years on the board, I have consistently demonstrated my ability to devote
the time required for thoughtful deliberation, to regularly visit the schools and attend board
meetings, and to provide balanced and fair representation for all members of the community.
After graduation from East Aurora High, I received a Bachelor of Science degree in
Mechanical Engineering from Clarkson University. I became a licensed Professional Engineer in
Virginia, and worked for 10 years as a project manager in budgeting and congressional
appropriations with the Naval Facilities Engineering Command.
Returning to East Aurora 12 years ago, I moved into computer programming, primarily
building e-commerce applications. Moving into data management for the pharmaceutical industry
six years ago, I am currently managing the application development team as a vice president
with ValueCentric, LLC in Orchard Park.
May 9, 2011 - 10:55 PM
All four were asked to tell district residents why they are worthy of their vote.
1. DANIELLE OPALINSKI
As a mother of six children I have a vested interest in ensuring that my children, along with all the children in this district, are given every opportunity to receive the best education possible.
While our district is not alone, we are facing significant challenges. The majority of our tax base is residential and we must remain vigilant in making sure our tax dollars are spent wisely. We must stay alert and be mindful of increased state mandates and our declining enrollment. I feel that I can be successful in finding a balance between appropriate expenditures and the providing best education for our children.
In short, I am running to help shape the future of our district, and to be both an advocate for our children and a watchdog for our taxpayers.
2. DIANE MISNER
In these uncertain difficult times of financial crisis and cut backs within the state and community, it’s most important to draw on our internal resources without losing focus of the educational needs of the children of the community.
My goal as a school board member will be to provide the best education for our students which our community can afford. My motto is “Putting Kids First.” We must be able to provide opportunities for students to learn basic mandated subjects that will provide our students to compete in this world when they graduate. The district’s graduation dropout rate one of the highest it has ever been which is not encouraging to a district with a poverty level of over 30 percent. Increase reading comprehension, math, and science skills at the lower level will carry out through middle and high school years. I believe developing reading and writing skills will facilitate communication skills, leadership skills, and encourage personal growth by developing self esteem. To support the well rounded child; music, art, and sports should be incorporated into the everyday curriculum. At this time I believe it necessary to review finances and determine where cuts can be made without decreasing reading specialists and the skills or tools taught that benefit the students.
I have been a Pediatric Nurse for over 20 years and an advocate for all children.
Education is important to me and I believe every student deserves the best education possible. I’ve been employed as a school nurse in private schools interacting with students with disabilities including physical challenges and emotional/behavioral challenges for the past 15 years increasing my knowledge of special educational needs, laws, and rulings as it relates to the school environment. My experience as a Nursing Coordinator and Treasurer of several organizations past and present has provided knowledge of budgetary projections and accountability which will serve useful on the School Board.
With my experience and knowledge of the school education system I will bring new ideas to the table. I believe I will represent the children of this district and the interest of the community and will serve them well.
Masters Degree in Secondary Education
Certification in Social Studies 5-12
Bachelors Degree in Business Studies
Associates Degree in Liberal Arts:
Humanities and Social Sciences
Varsity Softball JV and Varsity Soccer
Visual and Performing Arts
Board of Education Trustee
PTSA President: Winter Fest, Rachel’s Challenge, and
Middle School Events
BOE KEY ACCOMPLISHMENTS DURING PREVIOUS TERM:
Authorized initiation of conversations on Union MOA’s (TEA, CSEIA, and Central Administration made concessions)
Authorized task forces and movement on recommendations (Stadium/Auction of Highland)
Set goals to obtain mastery levels in all subject areas (Work in progress)
Set goal to increase Developmental Assets (Work in progress)
Consolidated building usage (closed Highland and reconfigured elementary schools)
Right sized staffing per pupil ratios (Consistent with declining population over ten years)
Tax levy remained flat for 3 years (increase in tax bill varies based on assessed value)
Business First rankings have improved 3 years in a row.
Infusion of Technology in all classrooms (allows our students the tools to succeed)
Aligned curriculum K-12 (allows for equal education for all children)
Response to Intervention model (allows for early intervention based on documentation)
Race to the Top initiative (allows for uniform assessment to show student growth, common core standards in ELA, and aligned teacher/principal evaluation methods)
Added Social Workers
New Programs (8-1-1, 12-1-1, 15-1-1) Reduces out of district costs.
Increased services to General Education students, increased offerings for integrated classrooms.
Early intervention for at risk students, positively impacts identification rates.
Goals for next term:
Consolidate administrative functions to help decrease administrative costs.
Continue to focus on the drop out rate, and increase Anti-Bullying Campaign.
Continue to monitor declining enrollment and focus on increasing student performance.
Maintain flat tax levy or better and propose a cut of 1% in all actual expense codes in the budget.
Set up Capital Improvement Reserve fund, to prepare for future school consolidations.
Work cooperatively with City Council, to prepare Master Plan.
4. ROBERT E. STARR II
My name is Robert Starr. I would love to say that I am a life long resident of Tonawanda, but I'm not. Born in Buffalo, NY and raised in Tonawanda, I resided here until the age of 32. During that time, I attended and graduated from Riverview Elementary, Tonawanda Jr. and Tonawanda Sr. High School (class of '73), all part of the Tonawanda public school system. During my time away from Tonawanda, I resided in Long Beach, CA, where I attended Long Beach City College and graduated in 1991 with an Associates Degree in Liberal Arts with a minor in Real Estate. Tonawanda has always been "home" to me and, since my return, I've become much more aware of where things are within the City and the school system and where these things are headed. What I see happening in the near future is preventable and, with the proper planning and foresight, may not even rear it's ugly head. But, this is much easier said than done. Total cooperation and a proper communication stream within the city's leadership infrastructure is key. This is something that is NOT in place now. We must ask ourselves, how can a major faction like the Board of Education function without the cooperation of City Council and other areas of City government? The answer is, not successfully. Communication, foresight, a good five year plan and strong leadership is what it will take to right this ship. I don't see any of this on the current Board and want to offer my services as a "hands-on" type of Board member who can and will talk to our City leaders about what is happening and what proposals are and can be met. As the old cliche goes, "United We Stand, Divided We Fall"...... Pretty soon, without the proper guidance, this cliche for the School Board will be "We've Fallen and Can't Get Up" . Please give some thought to this when you go to the polls on May 17th. Remember, "It's not just for the kids, it's for the community"
My name is Robert Starr. I would love to say that I am a life long resident of Tonawanda, but I'm not.
Born in Buffalo, NY and raised in Tonawanda, I resided here until the age of 32. During that time, I attended and graduated from Riverview Elementary, Tonawanda Jr. and Tonawanda Sr. High School (class of '73), all part of the Tonawanda public school system.
During my time away from Tonawanda, I resided in Long Beach, CA, where I attended Long Beach City College and graduated in 1991 with an Associates Degree in Liberal Arts with a minor in Real Estate.
Tonawanda has always been "home" to me and, since my return, I've become much more aware of where things are within the City and the school system and where these things are headed. What I see happening in the near future is preventable and, with the proper planning and foresight, may not even rear it's ugly head. But, this is much easier said than done.
Total cooperation and a proper communication stream within the city's leadership infrastructure is key. This is something that is NOT in place now. We must ask ourselves, how can a major faction like the Board of Education function without the cooperation of City Council and other areas of City government? The answer is, not successfully.
Communication, foresight, a good five year plan and strong leadership is what it will take to right this ship. I don't see any of this on the current Board and want to offer my services as a "hands-on" type of Board member who can and will talk to our City leaders about what is happening and what proposals are and can be met. As the old cliche goes, "United We Stand, Divided We Fall"...... Pretty soon, without the proper guidance, this cliche for the School Board will be "We've Fallen and Can't Get Up" .
Please give some thought to this when you go to the polls on May 17th.
Remember, "It's not just for the kids, it's for the community"
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About School Zone
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.
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.
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.
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.