PLATTSBURGH — Five people are looking to fill two seats on the Plattsburgh City School Board.
The candidates are Kathie Cameron-Murray, Walter Chmura, Robert Dolan, incumbent Amelia Goerlitz and Ronald Marino.
The Press-Republican asked each of the candidates what they would most like to accomplish if elected and how they would go about accomplishing those goals.
Cameron-Murray noted that she has worked in human resources for more than 20 years and “would most like to accomplish stronger communication throughout the district (with the) staff, board and community and to guide and support the district forward with the impacts of the new Affordable Care Act and benefits in general. I have found that many people do not understand all of the underlying issues associated with health care in the United States, especially with all of the new legislation.
“With my experience in human resources, I would accomplish this by fostering open and clear communication,” she said. “I have several years experience in employee-management relations and would like to offer that expertise to the community by fostering a more collaborative and innovative work environment, where all sides work together to create a new environment that improves education for our children and prepares them for the ever-changing work requirements of business and industry.”
Chmura would like to bring board discussions and resolutions into the open by applying the Open Meetings Law, and to “involve input from the public, employees and even students; work toward stabilizing the budget process by introducing clear, short- and long-range planning; and process the financial picture, so all can see exactly how solvent the district is and how sustaining liabilities in the future is a concern for everyone.
“I have tried to accomplish the above goals by attending board meetings and doing research on the district programs, finances, and commitments,” he said.
“I have submitted countless applicable ideas/suggestions but rarely received any responses or resulting in any discussion. So, I am trying a different approach by sitting on the board, where I may convince some of them of progressive, cost-effective changes and as a board member, will listen and respond to the public comments, as well as introduce those with merit into board discussions.”
Dolan hopes to help preserve the district’s reputation as a “highly respected educational institution.”
The school “is admired and held in high esteem by everyone in Clinton County. My goal would be to maintain this distinction.”
To do that, Dolan said, “we need to look for other sources to fund public education beside the property-tax levy.”
According to Goerlitz, schools are dealing with many issues related to the state-mandated Annual Professional Performance Reviews, Common Core Standards and Data Driven Instruction.
“I have been serving on committees to help in the implementation of these mandates and the development of a long-range plan to insure compliance with (State Education Department) requirements,” she said.
“I believe this is an enormous undertaking for schools because these mandates drive a large portion of our spending and budget. They are mandated by the state but not funded by it. These are things that have the most impact on students and education as a whole. Having these pieces all come together for our students, teachers and staff will be a large accomplishment.
“Continuing the work of the committees, providing staff development and training in target areas and implementation of the long-range district plan are the ways that I see accomplishing this goal,” Goerlitz said.
She added that health-insurance costs are another area of growing concern for the district.
“I would like to see the (School Board) work with the various unions to develop a plan that will meet the needs of the taxpayers, while giving employees options.
“I think (it) is unfortunate that the consortium has not come up with other options for districts in this area,” Goerlitz said. “There are other parts of the state that have been much more creative in the way they offer insurance programs and services to districts. We need to work with the consortium and explore this.”
“That being said, we also need to deal with the issue at hand. This can be done best my working cooperatively with the unions.”
Marino also hopes to establish a more open dialogue with meeting attendees.
“This can be accomplished simply by communication — thanking someone for their input, or, if an idea for improvement is extended, being willing to listen and, perhaps, meet with the individual to explore the suggestion,” he said.
“Currently, the board has authorized the whole of the reserve fund to be used to balance the upcoming budget for 2013-2014 without having a plan in place to replenishment ... Effective planning would be not just to compare budget to budget, but, actual income/expenses incurred and using that as a basis for budget projections.
“Effective planning could be to look at all the programs, as well as their sustainability and impact on the students, with an open mind.
“We need to plan for the future and not let the future plan for us.”
Marino said he would use his experience in banking to help the district with cost-saving ideas and would like to examine setting term limits for board members and build a board that better represents the community as a whole.
“Hopefully, we can attract a greater participation of the community to be involved and a rotation of many different thought processes for the betterment of the school district.
“Currently, there is a vast majority of the board who either are teachers in another district, have spouses/children working for our School District and/or retired from this district or retired from another district,” Marino said. “It would seem to the naked eye, this board is rife with conflict.”
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KATHIE CAMERON-MURRAY Age: 43. Education: Bachelor's degree in business management and master's degree in communication/human resources from SUNY Plattsburgh. Occupation: Human-resources manager. Civic organizations: Mission of Hope participant; previous board member of Plattsburgh Youth Hockey and Workforce Investment Board. Family: Husband, Bill Murray; children, Jonathan Side Jr.,15, and Kyle Side, 13. WALTER CHMURA Age: 65. Education: Bachelor's degree, University of West Haven; master's in Education, St. Lawrence University; PhD Education Program (all but dissertation), University of Rochester. Occupation: Retired education supervisor; former adjunct professor at Russell Sage/Junior College of Albany; New York State permanently certified social-studies teacher, guidance counselor, school administrator/supervisor and school district administrator. Military service: U.S. Army Vietnam veteran. ROBERT DOLAN Age: 68. Education: Bachelor's degree in secondary education; 40 graduate hours at SUNY Plattsburgh. Occupation: Retired global history and government and economics teacher from AuSable Valley Central School. Civic organizations: Life member of the American Legion Post 20, former exalted ruler of the Plattsburgh Elks Lodge 621. Military service: Army National Guard -- 50th Armored Division, 1968-1973. Family: Wife, Jean Dolan; two sons, Lawrence, 38, and James, 34. AMELIA "MICKEY" GOERLITZ Age: 67. Education: Bachelor's degree, Master's degree and Certificate of Advanced Study from SUNY Plattsburgh. Occupation: Retired director of special education at Peru Central School. Previous School Board experience: One year on Plattsburgh City School Board. Civic organizations: Member of City School District committees; former volunteer in the City School District. Family: Widow of Richard Goerlitz; two children, Richard Goerlitz, Jr., 44, and Elizabeth Goerlitz-Coryer, 38. RONALD MARINO Age: 70. Education: Some college. Occupation: Retired vice president with Glens Falls National Bank and Trust Co. Previous School Board experience: Current member and past chair of the Clinton Community College Foundation Board of Directors; former corporate board member and business campaign chair of the SUNY College Foundation. Civic organizations: President of the Rural Preservation Company of Clinton County; current member and past president of Sunrise Rotary Club; board member and past chairman, vice president and treasurer of the Development Corporation; member of the United Way Assessment Committee; vice president and tutor for Literacy Volunteers of Clinton County; volunteer tax preparer for AARP Foundation Tax Aide Program; past board member of Clinton County Red Cross; past member of Plattsburgh Noon Rotary; and past member/officer of several non-local organizations. Military service: Retired U.S. Navy/U.S. Naval Reserves. Family: Wife, Diane; two sons, Brian, 40, and Christopher, 35.