May 15, 2014

Letters to the Editor: May 15, 2015


---- — Logical choice

TO THE EDITOR: I have known Kenneth W. Maurer Sr. for 43 years, and I have always found him to be honest and fully committed to our eight children’s education.

Ken has attended approximately 80 percent of the Beekmantown School Board meetings for the last three years.

Ken has also attended the Insurance Consortium meetings for the school districts within Clinton County.

And Ken was on the committee to help select the new Beekmantown School District superintendent.

Kenneth W. Maurer Sr. — honesty, maturity, involved and able to consider both sides of every issue.

The only logical choice.




NACS candidate

TO THE EDITOR: I am pleased to announce my candidacy for the Northern Adirondack School Board.

I am a long-time resident of the Northern Adirondack School District. I graduated from Northern Adirondack in 1975. My daughter, Jennifer VanValkenburg, also was a student at Northern Adirondack.

I am a retired New York state correction officer and a full-time farmer. I served as union representative for the New York State Benevolent Association.

I am actively involved in the FFA alumni and our community. I have been a member of the Ellenburg Center Fire Department for 20-plus years. I was also an EMT for 15 years.

My motivation to run for School Board comes directly for the education of our children. I take pride in our community and the programs in our district. We have several traditions in our school that we need to preserve.

Also, I would like to try to keep the tax base within reason and still be able to provide the highest level of education for our students.

I look forward to working with many educators and staff members throughout the school system. I would like to see the School Board and administration work closer together to provide the best learning environment for our children.

Not all children are square pegs that can fit into a round hole. We need to ensure that every student that graduates from Northern Adirondack is either work ready or college bound. We need to be able to provide the best education possible for our children.

I want to ensure that the community has input in what happens in our School District also.

In conclusion, I would like to thank you for your support. Please come out and vote on May 20.


Ellenburg Center


Volunteers thanked

TO THE EDITOR: As coordinator of the New York State Ag in the Classroom Program for Clinton County, I would like to thank all the wonderful classroom teachers across the county who invited volunteer readers to come into their classrooms this spring for the ninth-annual Ag Literacy observance.

The storybook “Who Grew My Soup?” and a lesson about eating healthy, locally grown food was shared. Every public elementary school in the county was represented, and some private and home-schooled students were also reached.

I would also like to sincerely thank all the volunteer readers for their time and participation. From the Master Gardeners Program and Clinton County Cooperative Extension, I thank Joann Trombley, Patti Hubbell, Jane Arno, Lucy St. Pierre, Roderick and Anna Sherman, Linda Mott, Margaret Tallman and Cheryl Weber; from Adirondack Harvest Program, Doug Butdorf and Melissa Sayward; from Clinton County Farm Bureau, Kim Swyers and, especially, Sam Dyer, farmer and chairman of the Clinton County Legislature.

Thanks also to Yankee Farm Credit for funding the purchase of all the books donated to the school libraries.

Without the help fo these generous volunteers, the annual reading of the New York State Ag in the Classrooom Program (, agriculturally themed book and associated activities would not be able to continue.

Here’s hoping next spring’s Ag Literacy Program, our 16th, will be equally embraced and supported.

Thanks again to all the generous people who made it all possible.


Chair, Promotion and Education Committee

Clinton County Farm Bureau


Changes in Beekmantown

TO THE EDITOR: From 2010 to 2012, there was mayhem at Beekmantown Central School District.

The $10 million surplus evaporated, many programs and some sports were eliminated, the budget fiasco produced a failed budget and layoffs, all topped off by the principal swap.

Students’ programs were held hostage, and taxpayers were intentionally pitted against kids. Standing-room-only budget meetings were attended by frustrated residents.

Many offered suggestions and asked questions of then-board members. Responses were rare and frequently rude.

Residents suggested tightening up the class schedules and were told it was “unfeasible,” asked for a financial plan and were told it was “impossible,” suggested efficiency through the adoption of natural gas and more cost-effective bus runs. Those items fell on deaf ears. That board and former superintendent preferred status quo.

In 2012, district residents elected three new board members. In 2013, you added two more new Board members. The new board hired several new administrators and a new superintendent.

By 2014, “management by crisis” budgeting was history. Drama was replaced with collegial dialogue, where kids and taxpayers were placed ahead of special interests.

The 2014-15 budget boasts a tax levy increase of less than 1 percent.

Our new board and administrative team have put into place: five-year financial plan, new busing schedule with one less driver, return of student programs, more efficient class schedule, including AIS, and natural gas for the community seems to be on the horizon.

Much has been accomplished with approximately 60 less employees. The new board understands we must live within our means. Kudos and well done.

Dysfunction and chaos can easily return to our school so choose your new board members wisely.

On May 20, vote for the “new” guy, Ken Maurer, and just say no to incumbent Pauline Stone.




Experience, insight

TO THE EDITOR: Please consider my candidacy for Peru School Board in the election on May 20.

The election will be held at the Junior/Senior High School from noon to 9 p.m., and my name, Genie Denton, will appear first on the ballot.

(Please note the evening is action packed, with the Peru Elementary School Apple Crate showcasing their spring sounds at 7 p.m. in the High School auditorium, an event you will probably not want to miss.)

I have the added experience of having served on the board after filing a vacancy that arose earlier this school year. In the seven months I have been on the board, I have garnered insight as to what it truly means to be a board member.

Now, with your help, I hope to continue to serve all of the children, families, school personnel and other community stakeholders.

There is much I would love to tell you about why I want to serve and to share my qualifications; however, the 300-word limit for a letter approaches quickly.

Please take time to review my experience and genuine interest, along with other pertinent election propositions, on the Peru School District website at

Find out how you can play a bigger role in shaping the school’s future by participating in the Vision 2020 planning process found at

Thank you for your anticipated support.




Advocating for students

TO THE EDITOR: I am seeking another term on Plattsburgh School Board.

From the late 1970s to the present, I have been honored to serve alongside many fellow board members working together to provide a quality educational experience to thousands of Plattsburgh’s children.

For many years, positive changes were made, adding and expanding educational opportunity and periodic upgrading of facilities. This was accomplished while maintaining a stable tax rate.

Assessments and tax levy increased; hence the total dollars paid for a property increased. Boards and district administration have been prudent stewards of the public purse, slowly creating a fund balance that helped cushion the abrupt state-aid reduction these last several years.

I will continue to advocate for the education of our children by speaking against further reductions in educational opportunity and attempt to draw attention to the assault on public education by corporate fat cats and their political stooges in Albany and Washington.

The future of our children and our community require the federal and state governments raise taxes to provide the funding our students deserve. North Country schools, including Plattsburgh, are high need, low wealth, toward which New York needs to direct more money. I will continue to support efforts by several small cities suing NYS to fund our schools.

Veterans may hear I oppose a tax break for them. I do oppose the break, not because veterans do not deserve respect and appreciation; they do. This break would shift the burden onto non-veteran property owners. Washington should provide the financial support veterans deserve and not try to find ways of abandoning them.

Public employees, including educators, have become scapegoats for those seeking to unjustifiably use current economic troubles.

Public employment balances private business. The quality of living here is enhanced by competent, hardworking city, county and state employees.




Tide has turned

TO THE EDITOR: After several tumultuous budget seasons, continuous and repeated threats to kids’ sports and programs, the principal swap, reckless spending of the surplus fund balance and refusal to develop multi-year budget projects, the tide has turned.

We now have a relatively new board, new superintendent and new administrators. These new leaders have approved more affordable employee contracts, have entered into discussions about natural gas with NYSEG and the Public Service Commission, have delved into student academic performance and have developed class schedules and bus runs that are more efficient, serving the needs of our students while being more affordable to the taxpayers.

Our school now has a five-year budget plan in place. With the $10 million surplus long gone and approximately 60 fewer employees, our new administration has become very creative with all aspects of school management, making ends meet while still providing a quality education for our kids.

In a blink of an eye, all this progress could be gone. How? By returning the School Board to the days of wild spending with no financial or academic plan in place, where board members were part of the “Good ole Boy Club.”

Please say “no” to business as usual; say “no” to incumbent Board member Pauline Stone.

Instead please join me in supporting new blood, new ideas and continuing academic improvement and responsible spending by voting for Kenneth Maurer Sr. and Joseph Coakley. Both men are of high integrity and honesty, and both will do what is best for the students and for the taxpayers.

Please vote at the main building noon to 8 p.m. Tuesday, May 20.

If you need an absentee ballot, please contact the District Office at 563-8250.




Berry, Folsom support

TO THE EDITOR: The people in Peru School District will fill two seats on our School Board on May 20.

Four people vying for these two positions. It is our opinion that Bonnie Berry and Jill Folsom are the clear choice.

Bonnie Berry has experience in almost every facet of the Peru School District. She has remained current with educational issues and she has worked very hard to earn her solid reputation as an honest, dedicated professional in our community.

Bonnie is a realist and a forward thinker. Our School Board and our school will benefit if Bonnie is elected.

Jill Folsom has deep roots in our community, having moved here almost 20 years ago. She has two children; her daughter is a graduate of Peru and her son is a freshman. Jill’s commitment to Peru Central School goes far beyond the interests of her children; she cares deeply about the quality of education and the safety of all students.

Jill is an independent thinker with clear vision of right and wrong. She listens carefully, having a unique ability to take what is blurry and put it into focus. Her platform is simple: no agenda, but rather a pledge to listen to the needs and concerns of all the district stakeholders and to be a voice for those needs and concerns. She will be open, honest, and she will remain true to her pledge.

Bonnie Berry and Jill Folsom need your vote on Tuesday, May 20. Please come and support both of them so that they are able to support all of us.




Support for Denton

TO THE EDITOR: Voters in Peru School District will have many reasons to head to the polls on May 20.

There will be three important propositions to vote on: the balanced budget; the much-needed building improvements and repairs, which includes asbestos removal from the older building; and acquisition of new school buses to keep children in the district safe.

Additionally, voters will be casting their votes to fill the two School Board vacancies. I urge voters to cast a vote for Genie Denton. She is a dedicated advocate for all families, a steadfast civic volunteer, and she has the added benefit of already being an experienced Peru School Board member, as she was appointed by the board this year to fill this vacancy.

During this year, she has worked to lower the tax levy and maintain a balanced budget.

The election will be held from noon to 9 p.m. May 20 at the Peru Junior/Senior High School. Join me in giving Genie Denton our support.




Thoughtful decisions

TO THE EDITOR: Our family supports Jill Folsom as she pursues a seat on Peru Central School Board.

Having five children in the district, we are very invested in the decisions that are made, as well as changes that have been implemented.

We have known Jill for a little over six years. She is an intelligent, soft-spoken, thoughtful woman. She is devoted to her children and her family.

We need Jill on our School Board. She will listen to concerns, make thoughtful decisions, ask important questions, and she will get answers.

Jill Folsom needs you to support her. Please vote for Jill Folsom on May 20.




Team player

TO THE EDITOR: This letter is to endorse Genie Denton for a position on Peru School Board.

Genie currently holds a position on the board and was appointed November 2013 to fill the temporary position created by a board member who moved out of the district.

In addition to first-hand experience as a School Board member, the district paid for her requisite completion of the New York State School Board Governance Course, which she has just completed.

Genie is a small-business owner with experience in finance and insurance.

She is a Partners in Policymaking graduate, experienced in working with community leaders focused on disability laws and advocacy. She has worked diligently to educate families about special-education laws and has been a tutor and board member for Literacy Volunteers. She has served as a dedicated volunteer for more than 30 years in a myriad of capacities, including being an EMT.

Genie is a mother of three, two of whom are currently students in the Peru School District. Her passion, commitment and dedication complement this position.

She is a team player who would make sound decisions benefiting students, parents and district personnel.

She has been a board member for seven months and should be given the opportunity to continue to serve and make a difference. Genie always welcomes comments and concerns that she will address with her fellow board members.

Genie is the first person listed on the ballot. Please vote for her at the Peru Junior/Senior High School gymnasium noon to 9 p.m. May 20.

Please come vote for the three propositions. They will make for a safer healthier learning environment for your children and grandchildren.




Reject the budget

TO THE EDITOR: Plattsburgh City School District will put forth a $39.6 million budget for the voters’ consideration and is proud of the fact that it’s $106,000 less than last year’s budget.

Admirable? Not really. I could give kudos if it was $106,000 less than actual costs.

Last year, Fred Wachmeister, with much bravado, motioned and it was passed to take $1.9 million out of reserves to balance the budget, knowing it would not happen because it wasn’t necessary.

If one looks at the last three years, the cost of running the district averaged $36.3 million. Assuming 4 percent of that amount for addition to reserves, approximately $1.5 million, why a $39.6 million budget?

There are 51 items in the budget that are excessive in comparison to actual costs for 2013-14 and years before.

When we spend less than budgeted, ask yourself that age-old question: “Where’s the money?”

A budget should be based on fact-based historical figures, taking into consideration economic conditions and planned changes, not “guesstimates.”

I voted against the budget and strongly recommend it be rejected. It may not change the amount of the budget because it’s less than last year’s (not by much), but it will send the board and administration a message.

Further, in this year’s election, I support Peter Chmura. He attends all board meetings, does extensive research on matters relating to School District governance, budgeting, etc. and puts forth positive recommendations for the district. He would be a positive influence on the board in representation of the voting public.

I also support changing the terms of office for a board member to three years to increase interest in board election and support enacting a veteran’s exemption.




Prepared to serve

TO THE EDITOR: I am running for a seat on the Plattsburgh City School Board.

Attending countless board meetings and researching tons of data, I feel well prepared for the position. Many of my suggestions for savings and efficiencies have been shared with you in letters to the Press-Republican.

This year, Fred threatened a huge tax increase, but it fell on deaf ears. The board elected not to offend the taxpayers and just stuck to the tax-cap limit. Although praiseworthy, it is troublesome that each year they are filling the gap in the budget by tapping district reserve funds, which raises a red danger flag, as duly noted by Marino and LeBrun.

The board could, but refuses to, save millions by simply reducing the unsustainable rich benefits they granted to teachers. As the Burgh stated, “advocate for a merit-based system, not a corrupt feeding trough.”

PCSD needs a balanced budget, minus smoke and mirrors accounting, so that it serves the entire district. Programs need to be evaluated for results, rewards for success and accountability for failure.

A student representative should be an unofficial board member, with a website to keep students informed and involved. Interested taxpayers/businesspersons need to be genuinely included in the district financial planning and operations.

Fred feels his 30-plus years on the board means he answers to no one. He has leveraged himself into a power-broker status that serves teachers’ interests, no matter what the expense.

We can thank Fred for excessive tax-and-spending policies; granting benefits/mandates that are unsustainable; secrecy that misleads the public; and his lack of civility whenever challenged.

The PCSD Board needs openness, accountability, involvement, results and civility. I promise to work with Ken Baker, Ron Marino and other board members at revitalizing the board.

Please vote.




Leadership needed

TO THE EDITOR: My husband and I moved to this district with our family in 2000.

We have four children, three of whom are currently attending Salmon River: Mark and James, juniors; and Sara, a senior. Faith graduated from Salmon River in 2011 and is now at SUNY Potsdam. I am currently the director at the Fort Covington Adult Center.

I am running for a seat on the Salmon River Central School Board because I believe every parent in our School District wants the same thing. We all want our children to be successful, to have an opportunity to realize their dreams and aspirations.

Our school’s mission, in my opinion, should be to assist its students and their parents in achieving this goal. In order for our school to provide this assistance, there must be dedicated and principled leadership, beginning with the School Board. The School Board should provide the leadership to the administration to ensure this goal is met.

We must attract and keep the best teachers, give them the best tools and foster an environment where learning and excellence are the top priorities.

If elected, my focus will be on educating the next generation.


Fort Covington


Vote for the future

TO THE EDITOR: I have had the privilege of living in Peru School District since 1963.

My parents chose Peru after doing much research on area schools. Two of our children graduated from Peru, and our third will graduate in June 2015.

We have been very involved with this School District for many years, and we can see that things need to change. Jill Folsom and Bonnie Berry are both running for two seats on the Peru School Board. We believe that Jill and Bonnie are the beginning of that change.

We have known Jill and her family for 15 years. She and her family also chose to live in Peru because of our school and the community. If you know Jill, then you know that she is a hard-working, honest person who wants the best for our children and our school.

The fact that Jill is a registered nurse who also holds her master’s degree in nursing education makes her uniquely qualified for the School Board. We have seen Jill assess a situation and handle it with tact and decisiveness. She is straightforward, and she really listens to people. These are qualities that we need in our School Board members.

In our opinion, Bonnie Berry is one of the best administrators in the history of Peru. We were saddened to see her leave and now excited for her to come back in the capacity of a School Board member. Bonnie will skillfully work with everyone, from administrators to teachers to support staff, while keeping the community’s interest and taxpayers’ dollars foremost in her thoughts.

Join us May 20 in the High School gymnasium, and cast your votes for Jill Folsom and Bonnie Berry for Peru School Board. Vote for the future of our school.




Backing Berry

TO THE EDITOR: I am writing in support of Bonnie Berry for Peru Central School Board.

As a former board member I know the commitment required to be an effective and knowledgeable board member. I know that when Bonnie takes on a project, she is fully committed, whether that is in education, her long involvement with Relay for Life as publicity chair or her service on the Schuyler Falls Planning Board from 1999-2013.

Bonnie already has a vast knowledge of curriculum and working within school budgets for many years, so she will be able to be very effective from day one. Her long and continuing envolvement with education has prepared her for this challenge.

She takes the time to assess situations and do things right the first time. That is what we need to attain excellence in education at Peru.

Please join me in voting for Bonnie on May 20.




Stone, Coakley support

TO THE EDITOR: The excellent field of candidates running for the Beekmantown Central School Board bodes well for continued financial stabilization and educational enhancement in the district.

This is especially true of candidates Joseph Coakley and Pauline Stone, who both bring a proven blend of educational, administrative and financial experience with them.

Help continue the positive trends at Beekmantown Central School by supporting Joseph Coakley and Pauline Stone for the School Board on Tuesday, May 20.




Community safety

TO THE EDITOR: If you care about our community’s safety, vote for the Malone Central capital project.

It will save money with installation of natural-gas-heating systems, high-efficiency lighting and a washing facility to remove salt, a major factor in replacing buses.

More importantly, it will address an area our children pass every day that has turned into a site of drug use, arson, vandalism and burglaries. Village Police responded over 50 times in the past 24 months to these condemned buildings.

The cost for taxpayers on a house assessed at $100,000 is 19 cents a year. Is the cost of a rape, abduction, death of a trespasser or death of a Callfireman responding to another arson worth one dime, one nickel and four pennies a year?

From a public-safety standpoint, this project is long overdue. As we face a new heroin epidemic, do we want our children playing soccer, baseball and softball on new fields or becoming addicted to drugs and incarcerated at $60,000 per year?

I, too, am disheartened the old North Country campus cannot be saved. But this is likely our last chance for the state to absorb 90 percent of the cost with Malone receiving 100 percent of the benefit.

I have, unfortunately, had the experience in my career of standing over a deceased young man’s body in a vacant building. I do not want to experience this again, but I especially don’t want it to be a situation that is so preventable.

County Treasurer Bryon Varin provides further support, saying the county spends $11 million a year on incarceration, defense and prosecution but $38,000 on Youth Bureau programs.

For our children and community, vote “yes” between noon and 8 p.m. May 20 at Franklin Academy High School gym.


Franklin County district attorney


Public employees

TO THE EDITOR: In the interest of transparency, I would like to respond to Kenneth Baker’s Letter to the Editor.

He quite viciously attacked the Plattsburgh City School Board and the Plattsburgh Teachers Association, and I find that situation to be both ironic and hypocritical.

Both Mr. Baker and his running mate were public employees (like teachers), and both were represented during their working years by powerful unions, which defended their rights to a fair wage, benefits and a defined contribution pension plan (like teachers).

Upon their retirements, they received a pension and health-care benefits (again, like teachers).

I, along with every other resident of New York state has paid for those benefits through our state taxes and will continue to do so as long as we live in this state.

Would I like to deprive them of their retirement benefits or change them? No. As a school taxpayer, would I deprive or change any other union member’s earned benefits? No. I’m not a hypocrite.

Vote for Fred Wachmeister and Tracy Rotz.