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June 1, 2020 - 9:34am

Five questions for board of education candidates: Alexander Central School

posted by Mike Pettinella in news, notify, Alexander Central Schools.

The Batavian has reached out to school board candidates in Genesee County to get their answers to five questions prior to voting on June 9.

Candidates for a spot on the Alexander Central School District Board of Education (in alphabetical order) are Christopher Mullen and Diane Steel.

One position is up for election for a term of five years commencing July 1, 2020 and expiring on June 30, 2025 to succeed Richard Guarino, whose term expires on June 30, 2020.

The questions are as follows:

1 -- What is your position on your school district’s proposed budget for 2020-21? What parts do you support? What parts would you change if you could?

2 -- Are teachers in your district compensated adequately?

3 -- With what we know now about COVID-19, should schools reopen in the fall?

4 -- Are you satisfied that your district responds to parents’ complaints and concerns in a way that ensures the parents know they have been heard?

5 -- What two books published since The Enlightenment have influenced you the most?

CHRISTOPHER MULLEN

1 -- I am supportive of the 2020-21 school budget and am thankful that the district worked together to develop a 0-percent tax levy increase for this school year. I support the overall structure of the administrative team not taking pay increases this year and setting the tone for fiscal responsibility. I also support all the extracurricular programs that are offered and supported by the district community. I would like a better understanding of the planning and structure of the budget before I could honestly have an opinion about what should be changed.

2 -- I believe that based on the geographic area and the size of the school that teachers are compensated fairly. I also believe that the community strongly supports the teachers and the work they do for the kids of the district.

3 -- Schools should open if we are able to accurately and safely follow the distancing guidelines and other recommendations that support keeping the kids and staff from spreading the virus. This will require a collaborative effort on everyone's part to get kids back to school in the fall. Faculty, students and parents all want school to reopen and be able to reunite again, however, we need to continue to make sure we are responsible and wise how we move forward with this process.

4 -- I believe this is an area that we could continue to develop and improve.

5 -- I had 3. Stepping Up A Call to Courageous Manhood, Dennis Rainey; Quiet Strength, Tony Dungy; Simplify. ten practices to unclutter your soul, Bill Hybels.

DIANE STEEL

1 -- Our District’s 2020-21 total budget is very similar to the 2019-20 total budget. During these uncertain times, while we are experiencing record high employment and reduced wages, taxpayers are most concerned with tax increases. Parents are most concerned about keeping programs and services. I believe this budget strikes a balance for both. I agree that both of these concerns are equally important and maintaining them both should be the focus. I believe we all should be concerned about filling the deficit, if the Governor goes through with his threat to cut funding to schools. This could have a catastrophic effect on future budgets and I look forward to using my financial background, problem solving skills and advocacy for parents, teachers and the community to develop future budgets.

2 -- Alexander has great educators. However, over the past few years, many teachers and staff members have left the district. This is of great concern to me. Teachers teach because they love what they do, so why don’t they want to do it in Alexander? I would recommend the implement of a forum where teachers and staff feel they have a voice. It is important to engage all stakeholders to best move our district forward.

3 -- I would support schools reopening this fall. What I have learned from COVID-19, is that people, our students need in-person interaction with others. Distance learning puts an undue hardship on our families, parents, teachers and staff. Our district does not have the infrastructure in place to make this happen long term. Our children need to interact with their peers and with their teachers. The role the school environment plays on the lives of the student goes far beyond academics. Our kids need and thrive on a routine that the school day provides. Athletics provide for team building and physical activity. Students are influenced by their relationships with their teachers and other students. Schools play a big role in the type of adults our youth become. All this being said, safety of students and staff should be a priority.

4 -- My biggest concern moving forward is that the District effectively communicate with students and parents. It should not be a guessing game. Parents should not be made to feel bad when asking for information. We should respond upon receipt of the first request and should acknowledge all correspondence. The communication on continuing education during this COVID-19 was poor at best. I personally had to send multiple emails to advocate for my daughter’s education. Most of all, it is appalling to me that if you attempt to contact the Board of Education, your elected officials, that the superintendent, is the only one to acknowledge or respond. To me that is completely unacceptable. If elected to the Board of Education, I will respond to each and every email I receive. I may not have the information you need, but I can assure you I will get it! As a parent and taxpayer, the lack of dignity and respect shown by the superintendent, administration and Board of Education to the students, teachers, staff, parents and this community has been my most recent desire to make a difference. I’m not afraid to ask the difficult questions and advocate for what this community needs and wants. I can no longer just sit by and watch the school be destroyed. Being a community of legacy graduates, what really saddens me is that so many of the recent graduates and the Class of 2020 can’t wait to get out of Alexander schools. That is a red flag and a really loud statement for me to take action. “Do nothing, get nothing.”

5 – No response.

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