Warrensburg school board candidate Doug West (left) makes a point while competing candidates (left to right) Paul Weick, Richelene Morey and Brian Lace listen during a Meet the Candidates Night event held Monday May 8 at Warrensburg High School.
The four candidates for two open seats on the Warrensburg Central School Board of Education revealed their positions publicly this week about the future of the schools and their roles on the school board, if elected Tuesday May 15.
The candidates aired their thoughts during a Meet the Candidates Night held Monday May 8 at the high school.
Two of the candidates — incumbent board member Richelene Morey and former school board member Brian Lace — focused primarily on cost containment and financial efficiency, while challengers Paul Weick and Doug West stressed maintaining and bolstering a top quality educational experience for students.
Both Lace and Morey mentioned as qualifications their extensive experience on the board. Lace noted his lengthy tenure as code enforcement officer for the town and Morey, her years of work in the insurance business, which included financial and budget management chores.
West stressed his background as an information technology specialist; and Weick, his years as a teacher at Bolton Central School. Weick said that since the state is now requiring teacher performance evaluations, his knowledge would be particularly useful in meeting the new expectations. He also said that the maintaining an appropriate demeanor and tone of discussion amongst board members was of prime importance.
Weick said his platform had two basic planks: responsible management and enhancing pride in the schools. He called for exploration of shared services between school districts.
West noted that he was a Warrensburg graduate, and that WCS instructors had given him vital advice on his career, as well as preparing him well for his work. West said he sought to enhance the school’s programs so people would, like him, select Warrensburg as their first choice to raise a family.
West also said he’d pursue bolstering computer literacy, staying on top of computer technology and concentrating on eradicating traces of negativity in the school environment.
Noting his 36 years of local residency, Lace said that the district’s $21 million annual budget was too high for Warrensburg, and that he sought to lower it.
“If we don’t curtail costs, we’re going to have this district go bankrupt in several years,” he said.
Lace said that if elected, he’d help achieve solutions to balancing affordability with a quality program, citing that he’d be seeking to lower heating and transportation fuel costs, advocate for tough negotiations on teachers contracts and explore school consolidation.
Noting she was a WCS graduate as well as all her relatives, Richelene Morey said her experience would be useful in striking the balance between quality and affordability.
“It’s an exciting time in the world of education,” she said. “There are a lot of changes occurring.”
She said that the school board needed to focus more on long-term, comprehensive planning of programs, and exploration of consolidation. She also said she supported offering more Advanced Placement courses, while making sure that all students had equal opportunities for accelerated achievement.
Weick pledge to listen to the community, the administration and employees in making policy decisions. He noted that several 2012 WCS seniors were headed to two of the nation’s top colleges.
“I want to assure we maintain the high quality school that we have now,” he said. “The future of the town depends on it.”
West said that if elected, he’d be seeking to examine trends and help the board get in the forefront of issues, rather than reacting to problems as they occur. As an example, he said that teacher evaluations, to be fair and accurate, should be customized.
Weick suggested that potential teacher contract concessions should be explored in a collaborative manner. “Other districts are getting concessions — should we be getting more in our district,” he asked. West offered a similar view, noting he wasn’t yet aware of details, as he was not yet on the board.
Lace said he was not happy with the recent contract negotiations, and that other districts were having employees pay up to 25 percent of their health care premiums, which would save taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Morey offered a similar opinion.
“I’m extraordinarily disappointed in the teachers,” she said, noting that the union negotiators were not willing to make concessions, and weren’t willing to collaborate to contain costs.
“This reflects a degree of greed and lack of regard for taxpayers,” she said, noting that many of the teachers weren’t residents of the school district. “I’m very disappointed.”
To reduce the budget, Weick suggested scrapping staff development days and cutting the use of outside consultants.