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Terms up — Westfield Academy and Central School part 1

May 9, 2012
Westfield Republican

There are six seats available on the Westfield Board of Education as the terms of Marie Edwards, Steven Reynolds and Mark Winslow are up and Tony Pisicoli, Timothy Smith and Jeanne Habit have resigned their seats since the last election.

Due to the resignations, there are three five-year terms, two two-year terms and one one-year term available. The top three vote getters will be elected the five year terms, the fourth and fifth highest vote getters will be elected to the two year terms and the sixth highest vote getter will be elected to the one year term.

The following people are running for the board:

Article Photos

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Brenda (Cogliano) Bac­kus
Westfield Academy and Central School candidate

Brenda (Cogliano) Backus

Number of years as a resident of the WACS District: 39

Family: Husband of 20 years, Jason Backus. Three children at WACS: Carly, senior; Laura, sophomore; and Hayden, fourth grade. Parents, the late Joe Cogliano and Mary (Paschke) Cogliano.

Community activities: President, Parent Connection, 13 year member, member of WACS District and MS/HS Shared Decision Making teams for past three years, member of Ad Hoc Strategic Planning committee, YWCA Board of Directors, volunteer coach for T-ball and youth soccer. Participated in interview process for Superintendent, Secondary and Elementary Principals. "Friend of Education" award recipient through the YWCA Westfield.

Employment and professional memberships: YWCA Westfield, Child Services Director since 2004, 13 years at The Resource Center in the Social Services department.

Why do you wish to serve on the Board of Education?: As a graduate of Westfield Academy and Central School, a parent of three children currently attending our school and a child of educators and a businessman, I feel that I can bring a diverse perspective to the BOE. I have been an active participant in my children's education here at WACS for the last 13 years. I have volunteered as a member of various parent and school/community organizations, as I feel it is important to support our school in any way possible. I have built professional relationships with numerous members of the WACS staff through the YWCA Westfield and I am in the school daily. Serving on the BOE would enable me to bring my background, professionalism and experience together with the members of this board to shape the future of our school.

Candidate's statement: After participating in the recent Ad Hoc Strategic Planning Committee, it became clear to me that we are at a turning point in the future of the Westfield Academy and Central School as we know it. I have made the statement everyone must give, and that includes me.

Within the next two years, there will be many tough decisions facing our school. There will be many compromises to be reached within our own and neighboring school districts. This is a crucial time to have a cohesive Board of Education that can preserve what is best for our students, move forward in a positive manner and bring information and understanding to our community. I am up for the challenge and look forward to the opportunity to share in the possibilities that lie ahead for Westfield Academy and Central School.

Ronald D. Catalano, Jr.

Number of years as a resident of the WACS District: 43 years

Family: Children Kathryn and Christopher.

Community activities: President of the Westfield Golden Hawks, past president of the Westfield and Barcelona Chamber of Commerce, past board member of the Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce, 2002 Class of the Chautauqua Leadership Network, life member of the Westfield Fish and Game club, member of Moose Lodge 118.

Employment and professional memberships: Jack's Welding Service, Inc., owner of RD Design and Development, LLC.

Why do you wish to serve on the Board of Education?: In our economy currently before us, I am concerned with the financial impact to our community and to the educational resources available to our youth.

Candidate's statement: I have been a life long resident of Westfield and have seen many changes we have gone through. I would like to bring a business-like background to the ever struggling economy we have before us. I will strive as a board member to keep the community aware and to provide the best economical education to our children.

Marie Edwards

Number of years as a resident of the WACS District: Lifelong, over 50 years

Family: Rachel, 2005 WACS graduate; Derek, 2006 WACS graduate

Community activities: Member of Westfield Women's Organization, Session/Elder of First Presbyterian Church.

Employment and professional memberships: Employed at the Village of Westfield, 18 years.

Why do you wish to serve on the Board of Education?: WACS has several important decisions on the horizon. As an experienced board member, I would like to help move the district forward.

Candidate's statement: I have served on the board for six years. It has included the hiring of principals and superintendents. These years have been filled with many challenges with many still to tackle. Westfield is faced with continuing to provide a sound education while keeping cost in line. The budget grows while the population and job market shrink. We need long term planning and progressive thinking to keep Westfield School District a place where future generations can receive a quality education in a positive surrounding. And I would give my time to help this happen.

Jeffrey N. Greabell

Number of years as a resident of the WACS District: I moved to Westfield in 1988 in order to assume the role of Secondary (7-12) Principal here at Westfield Academy. Continuous resident since then - 23 years. I have long maintained that Westfield Academy and Central School is Western New York's best kept secret and am very proud to have been a small part of it continued excellence.

Family: My wife Judy and I have a large family with seven children, 22 grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren. Unfortunately, most of them live some distance from Westfield, so we do not see them nearly enough.

Community activities: I was very involved in the establishment of the Cross Roads Farm and Craft Market, serving as its President during the formative years; both Judy and I had shops there for several years. Although no longer involved in the Westfield Kiwanis Club, I did serve as its President. I am a member of the Westfield Moose Lodge and enjoy golfing with the retirees at Pinehurst.

Employment and professional memberships: Since retirement, I have remained active through serving several interim appointments here at Westfield, including a two and one half year stint as the Middle School Principal, an appointment at Eden Central School, and I served as Principal of the Ashville Alternative Education program in the Spring of 2010. I am presently on the active list of Administrative substitutes for Erie 2 BOCES and often substitute as an administrator at the Special Ed/Alternative Ed program at the Hewes Center in Ashville.

Candidate's statement: As nearly everyone is aware, budgetary problems continue with no easy solution in sight. Discussions with neighboring district(s) are taking place with an aim toward some form of consolidation which could ease the budget problems, as well as provide greater programming options for our students. I believe I can be of assistance in these discussions because of my experience and my belief in our school and its students. The decisions made will have important consequences for our own district as well as for students and citizens in surrounding districts. We must be certain to have as much information as possible and provide that information accurately and completely to the public so that any decision made will prove to be as beneficial as possible for the students here at Westfield, as well as for the greater community. If elected, I pledge to listen, learn and participate in an effort to insure that decisions made will be of maximum benefit to our school and its students.

See part 2 for the other three candidates



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