May 19, 2013

Three vie for Lake Placid School Board seats


---- — LAKE PLACID — Lake Placid Central School Board incumbent John Hopkinson and Richard (Rick) Preston and Jennifer Tufano vie for two open seats.

The Press-Republican asked what they believe is the district’s most pressing issue and what they would do to address it. 

Here’s what they had to say:

Hopkinson: “In the near term, a major challenge is organizational. A must-do for next year will be development of a strong, cohesive administration team that will lead students, teachers and staff to perform to their highest potential and that also will earn the respect, trust and support of local parents and other taxpaying citizens.

“In the longer term, a significant challenge is strategic. We do need a focus, an approach and some priorities. Given my business experience in this area, I can be instrumental in driving this process toward a successful conclusion.”

Preston: “The most pressing issue facing the Lake Placid School District (and most districts) is diminishing financial support with increased regulatory requirements. 

“The board will be challenged with developing and maintaining long-term efficiencies that will create significant savings while improving, or at least maintaining, current student achievement ... For this to occur, there must be a focus on being proactive with deficit reduction.

“I would bring to the board experience in budgeting, managing customers and in negotiations. I would offer a fresh set of eyes to look at systems and processes. Without the ability to change state mandates ... we must be creative with educational programs without reducing the comprehensive nature of the programs offered by the Lake Placid School District.”

Tufano: She said the issue of trust has come up time and time again as she has talked with district residents.

“Whether it’s student trust in teachers, teacher trust in administration or parent trust in the School Board, the turmoil of the past few years has eroded this essential relationship component.” 

There will always be such issues as taxes, technology and shared services, she said, but there needs to be a basic trust for a meeting of the minds.

To address that, Tufano said, she would listen to what parents, caregivers and community members say they want and need for the students. She would hold forums every other month, inviting the public to share concerns.

“Frank and open conversations are necessary facets of understanding even when agreement can’t be reached. Of course, there must be limitations on what the School Board members can say and when they can say it. But even just expressing that fact can go far in relationship building.”

JOHN HOPKINSON Age: 68. Education: Bachelor's from College of William and Mary; and doctorate from Syracuse University, 1971. Occupation: Retired. Former vice president/general manager of Lake Placid Operations for Upstate Biotechnology Inc. Previous School Board experience: Incumbent, appointed in 2012. Civic organizations: Community Development Board member, former Adirondack Health Board of Trustees member and Lake Placid/North Elba Joint Planning Commission. Family: Married with adult children. RICHARD "RICKY" PRESTON Age: 56 Education: Bachelor's degrees in education/minor athletic training and physical therapy; doctorate in physical therapy. Occupation: Director of Rehabilitation & Sports Medicine at Adirondack Health. Previous school board experience: Two years, St. Bernard's School in Saranac Lake. Family: Wife, Joanne; children, Sara and Joshua; stepchildren, Noah and Katie. JENNIFER TUFANO Age: 41. Education: Bachelor's degree in English, master's degree in student development administration. Occupation: Lake Placid-North Elba Historical Society director. Civic organizations: Lake Placid Sinfonietta Education Committee member; Member of Friends, parent/teacher group at LP Elementary School; LPES parent volunteer; and Garden Committee chair. Family: Husband, Tony; and daughters, Isabella and Olivia.