by Thaddeus Flint
On May 15, from noon to 9 pm, residents of the Berlin Central School District will go to the polls to vote on the $17,438,900 budget which entails a 1.98% increase in the tax levy, District taxpayers will also vote on two propositions. [private]Proposition #1 is to authorize spending up to $100,000 to make improvements to the telecommunications, public address, surveillance and security systems at the Middle School/High School. This money is reimbursed by the State at 75% in the following year. Proposition #2 has to do with whether the District should turn over the Stephentown and Grafton properties for the price of $1 to those respective towns to be used for public purposes.
The voters also get to elect two School Board members. This is the first year that seats will be elected “at large”. The candidates with the two highest number of votes will be elected to three-year terms beginning July 1, 2012.
Running for re-election are Board President Gina Goodermote of Stephentown and Board Member Rachel Finney of Stephentown. The new candidates are Shelly Bedford of Grafton and Katie Fiske of Petersburgh.
To aid voters in making their decision, the Eastwick Press asked each candidate to tell a little about herself. They were also asked what they feel is the greatest challenge the BCS District faces today and how they feel it should be addressed.
The incumbents were asked what they felt they have accomplished during their time on the Board and what would they like to accomplish should they be re-elected.
The new candidates were asked what their reasons are for running for School Board and what they would like to accomplish should they be elected.
Gina Goodermote – School Board President
I have been a member of this District for over thirty years. The last three years on the Berlin Board of Education has been a challenge, but an experience I would not miss. My husband has been very supportive since I have been a member of the Berlin Board, and, trust me there have been nights following Board Meetings that have not been pleasant.
I have tried to accomplish quite a bit in this last year as being Board President with the help of Vice President Jim Willis. I firmly believe we have turned a corner in our District and are heading in the right direction. The building proposal that was passed by the voters is a huge step in the right direction of getting our facilities somewhat up to code.
In discussions with Cyril Grant, Superintendent of Grounds, we were able to determine that our pillars could be wrapped and porticos could be covered to ensure that lead would not be an issue until a final plan was determined.
I did manage to accomplish after being appointed Board President the repair of our sidewalk and front steps at Berlin Elementary School. Donation of labor from our local contractors helped make this happen. In the future if pet projects could be planned ahead more local contractors would be willing to donate time as needed. I think this is one avenue we need to explore to help us with our facilities without a burden to the taxpayers of our District.
The education of our children is very important. I firmly believe in having a healthy and safe environment for education. Students and parents can take pride in the achievement of our District. Much more hard work is needed, but I feel that we have a good start in the right direction.
I took forward to getting this and other projects underway if I were to be re-elected. I feel some of the bumps in the road are huge but not impossible.
I’m a lifelong resident of BCSD. Three generations of my family have attended Berlin Central Schools. I graduated from Berlin Central in 1972. My further education included some college
credits and several non-credit courses at HVCC. In 1994 Senn-Delaney Leadership Consulting Group Inc., San Francisco, CA, certified me as a facilitator.
During a twenty-five year career with Verizon in clerical and customer service positions, I was also a union steward for IBEW 2213 and a facilitator of motivational workshops.
After retiring, I did substitute work for BCSD in the Grafton and Berlin Elementary Schools, the Middle/High School and the Bus Garage. I’ve also attended quite a few School Board meetings during the last six years, so I’ve learned a lot about our schools and our Board of Education.
I’m running for School Board because there is so much divisiveness in our District that we are not doing our best for our children and taxpayers. My late parents taught me respect for myself and others, common sense and, above all, integrity. They also taught me that if I want to see improvement, I should be willing to become part of the effort. These are some qualities that I can bring to the Board of Education.
If elected, I would like to become part of a team that enlists the talents and cooperation of all seven members, a team that can be pro-active for our students as well as accountable to our taxpayers.
The greatest challenge our District faces today is our own inability to achieve our goals. There are painful decisions to be made; bickering and delays can only add to their number. We need to get on with the business of educating our students in the best way possible while being fiscally responsible at the same time.
I am a life-long resident of the area and a graduate of Berlin Central. After graduation I attended Russell Sage
College dual-majoring in Chemistry and Forensic Science. After Sage I attended the College of St Rose for graduate school, majoring in
Education with a concentration in science and chemistry. Currently, I am employed at Evident Technologies as a Chemist and Technical Administrator.
I decided to run for School Board because I have a high regard for education. Additionally, this is a way for me to give back to my community.
If elected I would like to create a unified School Board where all opinions are respected and all members are willing to compromise. I will work as a team member but vote independently. Our current utilized buildings need to be repaired and updated in order to provide all District children with a safe and healthy learning environment. Our students need to be prepared for the future whether they plan to attend college, join the military or enter the workforce. As a District we need to put the past behind us and only move forward for the betterment of our children. We need to work together, think outside the box and develop a plan where all our children have the opportunity and resources to succeed. If elected to the School Board, I make the commitment to base my decisions in the best interest of our children in the most financially responsible manner to our taxpayers.
I have been a resident of Stephentown for almost 30 years. My husband Rick and I have 3 children and 2 grandsons. All 3 of our children have attended school here in our District. I am currently employed at a large Chevrolet dealership as an Administrator, managing parts department inventory, purchases and balances. In my ‘younger’ years I was employed as a Teacher’s Assistant at a special education pre-school. That experience fueled my passion for advocating for all children. I also have had the pleasure of working with the BCSD Committee on Special Education as a parent advocate. Yearly, I speak to a class of young psychology interns at The College of Saint Rose concerning the issues of raising a child with special needs. Besides spending time with my family, I enjoy gardening, a great cup of coffee and a good book.
The Superintendant Search was a really good experience for me. My belief was that the District needed to have a strong leader with positive and practical visions for our District. We need to keep moving forward and make these visions a reality. Also, the Capital Improvement Project is a huge accomplishment – so many needs will be addressed. This project ensures that our students have a safe and healthy environment with no impact on our taxpayers’ pockets.
I would like to see long term planning for our District’s future. I also would like to see a before and after school program in effect for our students. There are also many creative programs that can be explored to further our students’ learning opportunities based on their need.
Just like every other School District, we face financial challenges. The loss of State aid has impacted all districts. It’s a struggle to do more with less. This year’s budget reflects that. But the bottom line is we need to be committed to long term planning to ensure our District’s future.[/private]