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June 5, 2020 - 9:16am

Five questions for board of education candidates: Pembroke Central School

posted by Mike Pettinella in news, notify, Pembroke Central School District.

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.

At the Pembroke Central School District, Daniel Lang is running for a one-year unexpired term and Heather Wood is running for a new five-year term.

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?

DANIEL LANG

1 -- I am in full support of this year’s school budget for the 2020-2021 fiscal year. The District Board and Administrative staff have reviewed all options and strategically planned accordingly with the interest of keeping the Pembroke district moving in the right direction. With this budget encompassing a zero percent tax increase for our residents, we will still be able to continue to provide the absolute best for our students, teachers and district.

2 -- I feel as though the teachers in our district are compensated adequately and have justified the importance of going above and beyond expectations, especially during the recent, trying times that we all have been experiencing.

3 -- Yes, schools should reopen in the fall, and I feel it is vital for the students to return and feel safe in doing so. It will be critical to assure that the buildings and transportation remain sanitary and follow guidelines set by the governing bodies. I feel that there is value in the teacher/student interaction which helps aid in the learning process through individualized communication, and social interaction which cannot be grasped through distance learning. The relationship built with that of a dedicated teacher is irreplaceable and should continue moving forward.

4 -- Yes, I am satisfied with the way the district responds to parents and concerns. With that being said, I also feel that we should be continually looking for new and better ways to be communicating with parents. Complacency breeds mediocrity and steals potential. We all have the ability to improve and use mistakes or difficulties as a way to learn and enhance our current methods. This area of the district is no exception to that. As we work together as a team, the district and parents, we will continue to grow and understand each other in new and exciting ways.

5 -- When I read, I like to dive into books that provide encouragement, hope and answers for real life situations. If I were to choose two books that I have read that fit in this category, they would be When Life Is Hard by James MacDonald, and Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren.

HEATHER WOOD

1 -- My fellow Board members and I all approved of the 2020-21 budget which is being presented to the community. Our Superintendent and School Accountant have worked diligently to lead the charge in bringing us possible scenarios during a time when aid at the State Level was being questioned on what seemed like a daily basis. Collectively we were of the mindset to not put any additional burdens on the community during the uncertain times we are currently facing and were pleased to present a 0 percent tax levy increase. It is always a hard decision when discussing what areas to cut from, but rest assured the needs of the student are always first and foremost in our minds. We will continue to be the very best District we can be no matter what the numbers say and invite the community to contact the District Offices if they have questions moving forward.

2 -- Addressing the question if I feel that teachers are compensated adequately, I would say that it’s not a simple answer. We need to look at the community we live in and remember that higher pay will be reflected in higher taxes. Recently, we did make changes on our starting pay for teachers to bring them more in line with the Genesee Region. That being said, we will continue to provide top notch teachers to our students because that is what we are mandated to do.

3 -- I am both hopeful and optimistic that schools will indeed reopen in the Fall and I do advocate for this. Will things look different moving forward? Yes, most definitely as we all implement new State guidelines that will need to be respectful to our students, staff, parents and administration. We need to be mindful of what will work and what will not work for OUR District. While it is true that Pembroke has done a fantastic job in transitioning our students to online learning these past few months – it in no way should be seen as a permanent replacement for educating our youth and I am quite frankly, offended by anyone who says such things. Students need teachers just as much as teachers need the students. A school is a living, breathing institution and all the connections that are made within its walls are priceless.

4 -- Pertaining to the COVID situation - I feel Pembroke has done a remarkable job communicating the educational materials to the students and their parents. From our Superintendent, building Principals, and teachers – they all got the word out on a weekly basis (sometimes daily) keeping everyone informed of what was going on pertaining to finishing the year out strongly and what the expectations were for each student. This was all new to everyone and it was important that we all worked together in this endeavor. I do know for example, that some families in the community have reached out to our Superintendent for clarification on end of the year grading. He responded and made the policies clear as to what would be required to finish the year strong. In regards to things other than the COVID situation – finishing up my fifth year on the Board, I honestly feel we do a good job as a District addressing the communities concerns, however – that being said – our Board meetings are advertised and the public is ALWAYS welcome to contact our District Clerk if there’s something specific that is on their mind that they’d like to bring to the Board. Some questions can simply be answered from the Superintendent or by him directing the parent/community member to the appropriate administration before it gets to the Board level. If our community has questions, it is a Board member’s job to try our best to address the concerns.

5 -- I can name many books that have influenced me, but there are two that stand out – and to the readers they may seem quite simplistic but to me they mean the world. I read Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White when I was about 10 and it both sparked my passion for reading then and now. Looking back through the adult eyes it just amazes me of the pure innocence of childhood and how doing the right thing matters. Next would be The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom – it reminds me of the importance of relationships/connections and how what you do has a domino effect on everything else that happens in the world. This is how I look at schools – relationships and being a good person mean something just as much as the grades do.

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