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Terms up — A who’s who of those running for local Boards of Education

May 9, 2012
Westfield Republican

Brocton Central School

There is one seat available on the Brocton Board of Education as Camile Belcher's term is up. Running for the five year term is three term incumbent Belcher and Steve Smith.

Chautauqua Lake Central School

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Michael Ludwig
Chautauqua Lake Central School candidate

There are two seats available on the Chautauqua Lake Board of Education. The three candidates are running at large, and the two candidates with the highest number of votes shall be declared elected to three year terms. The following people are running for the board:

Michael Ludwig

Why are you running for the school board? If elected, what will be your priorities?: The decision for running for the school board is multifactorial. Who really wants to give up evening family time for three to five hours talking about educational law, policy implementation or review line by line a three part budget that is as thick as a text book for no pay? My re-election to the school board will allow me to continue to be a part of something greater than myself to allow me to serve my fellow Chautauquans and provide for all of our children a school that is greater than our own childhood school. I run for this position as a fiscal conservative - putting aside waste, looking for opportunity to streamline, increasing efficiency without sacrificing educational programming, special education, sports and the arts. I ran for office three years ago in part to see a regional high school become a reality. I continue to feel deeply in favor of this and want to see it through to the end. Whatever ends that may be.

This generation is facing challenges that are global and we must compete with that very mindset. Moving the ball down the field will require continued long nights, working toward a common goal of a world-class education that prepares all of our children with the tools they need to succeed. With the current tax cap, burdensome unfunded mandates, inflation and the decreasing funding from Albany, we must agree that the status quo is no longer sustainable. I am asking for your vote to continue fighting for a fiscally sound school district, "high-end" education for all students while looking into the future to secure our school for generations to come.

How does a school board balance the need to provide a meaningful education with the need to respond to taxpayers' burdens?: Simply put ... be responsible and live within your means. I hope the full implementation of the new Annual Professional Performance Review plan of teachers and principals will allow the school district to retain the best and brightest of our educators and in turn give us the biggest bang for our buck.

As a father of two high school students and of two children that are about to enter the school system, I have ... skin in the game ... meaning I have a real personal vested interest in the success of CLCS. My wife and I have chosen to be a sole income family which has resulted in a very tight home budget. Being responsible with the school's expenditures has a direct impact on my wallet. As a young man, I lived in public housing and receive food stamps. I knew that a good education was my best way out of poverty. A good education must start with a solid foundational elementary and high school education.

What particular experiences or skills qualify you to serve as a school board member?: I have to utilize listening, communication, observation and knowledge in order to be successful at my job as a Physician Assistant. These skills, coupled with the ability to make tough decisions, are essential for all board members. Along with the above skills, I have experienced life as a single parent household as well as a duel parent household. This has given me a unique perspective on challenges that face different families in the district.

School/district activities: As Ludwig's children have been attending CLCS since 2002, listing the numerous events would take up valuable space in this venue. Some of the highlights include career presentations, Parent-Teacher Connection fun nights, participating in the Key Communicator Committee and chaperoning class events.

Community activities: Ludwig remains an active member of Lakewood Baptist Church. He has served on committees including the First Touch Ministry and Planning Committee. He has worked with the Midget Football teams to provide free sports physicals. As part of the CLCS school board, Ludwig has served on the Budget Task Force, responsible for going through each department of the school to ensure that taxpayers' money is being spent wisely.

Ludwig is the father of two CLCS high school students - Amber, grade 11, and Charity, grade 10 - and two younger children - Isaac, age 3, who will enter pre-kindergarten in fall 2012, and Eliann, age 2. Michael and his wife Nora reside in Mayville.

Jill Scott

Why are you running for the school board? If elected, what will be your priorities?: I ran for the Board of Education again because I wanted the community to know I was willing to serve in difficult times. The first years of my tenure on the board were filled with the fun and excitement of the new district and having the funds to build the new CLCS campus. That "gravy train" has left the station, never to return. I've enjoyed being a part of the ASSET consortium, working with our superintendent and legislators to promote legislation that will make a regional high school possible. As of this writing, the legislation is still pending. Working toward a regional high school and other possible options to assure that our CLCS students receive a quality education will be my primary priorities should I be re-elected.

How does a school board balance the need to provide a meaningful education with the need to respond to taxpayers' burdens?: The newly enacted property tax cap, with no corresponding decrease in the unfunded mandates that burden schools, brought with it a new set of challenges. While the public generally supported the property tax cap in theory, I'm not sure anyone realized the impact it could have on educational opportunities for our children. With decreased ability to raise revenues, each year it becomes more difficult to preserve teaching positions and programs. While "tax payer burden" seems to have been addressed by the cap, providing a meaningful education will become increasingly challenging in a climate that says we must "do more with less," even if "more" just means maintaining the status quo.

What particular experiences or skills qualify you to serve as a school board member?: I have a Master of Science degree with extensive experience in nursing education, leadership and management. I have worked as a counselor, specializing in grief and loss issues with adults and children and continue to have a small private practice in this specialty. In my 14 years on the CLCS Board of Education, I have attended several NYS School Boards Association sponsored Board of Education seminars, including one on "Board Leadership" to enhance my effectiveness as the president.

School/district activities: Scott has been a Board of Education member since 1996 with a brief hiatus 2007-08 because of work conflicts. She was one of two candidates elected to the newly formed Chautauqua Lake Central District who had not served either of the two other district boards.

Community activities: Scott has been president of the CLCS Board of Education for the past two years, vice president for several years prior, has served on the Safety Committee and School Health Advisory Council 1996-2006. For the past two years, she has been one of the school board representatives to the ASSET consortium, exploring shared services, including regional high school, between and among its members. She is a member of St. Mark Lutheran Church, where she serves on the Liturgy Committee, sings and substitutes for the organist. On March 21, Scott was recognized by the Zonta Club as a recipient of the Women in Leadership Award for "contributions improving the status of women."

Scott's children Tyler, Class of 2001, and Tamra, Class of 2002, graduated from CLCS, and Terril graduated from the former Chautauqua Central School in 1996. She resides in Mayville.

Mary Lee Talbot

Why are you running for the school board? If elected, what will be your priorities?: "Small and World Class - Chautauqua Lake Central School" is my theme. When your children graduate from CLCS they will have the best education they can with the resources available. When your children graduate from Chautauqua Lake Central School, they will have the skills to compete in a global marketplace with highly developed technological skills. With the help of the great teachers we attract, your children will develop the creativity they will need to start a variety of businesses and create their own work opportunities. When students graduate from CLCS they will be life-long learners, people who enjoy learning in many different ways. My priorities are to keep the quality of the education for your children high to attract families to the district, to attract and keep teachers who are creative and committed to teaching and to use the resources we have in the most creative way possible.

How does a school board balance the need to provide a meaningful education with the need to respond to taxpayers' burdens?: The education we provide today's students translates into future jobs and employment possibilities. We want good teachers, challenging classes, sports opportunities and extra-curricular activities. Budget decisions should always be made with the focus on the future of the children. There are no easy solutions to balance meaningful education with the burden of taxpayers. This district and others in the county and state are faced with unprecedented challenges to do the most with the limited resources we have. The school district is just beginning to deal with the limitations of the tax cap. There are new mandates on teacher performance that will require more time from teachers and supervisors, and money to buy, administer and interpret the tests.

What particular experiences or skills qualify you to serve as a school board member?: I have worked with young people at the local, national and international levels. I have a degree in the history of education. I have been passionate about education since I was the editor of my high school newspaper. I have worked with million dollar plus budgets and supervised staff. As a pastor, I have ministered to parents who are concerned about their children's education, to teachers who work long hours with dedication and drive, to bus drivers who have to contend with early hours, icy roads, and mischievous children, as well as children who experience school in many different ways. I am self-employed and a published writer and editor.

School/district activities: Talbot's direct involvement with the school district comes through regular attendance at the school board meetings and attendance at school musical programs and other productions. She reads the Navigator when it comes and uses the school calendar. She reads about this school system and about the school situation in the state of New York through local papers and on line.

Community activities: Talbot is an active member in the Jamestown chapter of the American Association of University Women, serving as the publicity writer and one of the co-chairs of the What's New Fair, which raises scholarship funds for women students going on to four year colleges from Jamestown Community College. She belongs to a monthly book club, a play reading group and a bowling league. She is working with the Seneca Nation of Indians to coordinate a spirituality conference in the spring. She is a supply preacher for churches in Chautauqua and Cattaraugus counties.

Talbot resides in Chautauqua. She does not have children at Chautauqua Lake Central School.

Clymer Central School

There is one seat available on the Clymer Board of Education. Running for the five year term is one term incumbent Michael Schenck.

Panama Central School

There is one seat available on the Panama Board of Education. Running for the five year term is incumbent Julie Turcotte, who finished out the last two years of the previous term.

Ripley Central School

There is one seat available on the Ripley Board of Education as Melinda Gervasio's term is up. Running for the five year term are Michael Boll and Dale Kozlowski.

Michael A. Boll

Number of years as a district resident: Michael A. Boll has been a Ripley resident for 24 years. He is a graduate from North East High School and moved to Ripley when he married his wife, Pamela Boll.

Family: He has two children at Ripley Central School.

Activities: Michael is an active member of the Ripley Rod and Gun Club and also a New York State certified hunter safety instructor for the club for 10 years. He has held the position of vice president for two years for the Ripley Rod and Gun Club, and he is currently the rental agent and has been for five years. He has been a volunteer coach from The Ripley Rod and Gun Club for the Ripley School Trap Club for four years. Michael enjoys spending time with his family. He enjoys fishing, hunting, scuba diving, shooting trap for the Rod and Gun Club League and spending time in the great outdoors.

Candidate's statement: I would like to be a school board member to broaden my community support and to bring a fresh perspective to help guide the education decisions for my children and their peers.

Dale A. Kozlowski

Number of years as a district resident: I have resided in the Ripley Central School District for the past 18 years. However, I have been a Chautauqua County resident all my life.

Family: My wife is Laurie, and our two children are Samantha, RCS Class of 2012, and Shawn, RCS Class of 2014.

Employment: I am a 13-year employee of Carriage House Company in Dunkirk, with the current title of line mechanic.

Candidate's statement: Ripley Central School has been supportive of my wife and my children. The more they become involved in the district, the more I want to be involved and give back. I enjoy the athletic, educational and social events the school consistently puts on and believe as a whole our young people are gaining a positive school experience. I would like to make sure this continues. With the many proposed changes to our district, I understand things may not stay the same, but I would like to help guide the district in moving in a positive direction for the benefit of our students. As an involved parent and community member, as well as a taxpayer, I believe I can bring a level-headed and open-minded perspective to the board, and I plan to voice the opinion of the community in a positive way.

Sherman Central School

There is one seat available on the Sherman Board of Education. Running for the five year term is one term incumbent Colleen Meeder.



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