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Mar 24, 2018
Charlton Heights Elementary SchoolPashley Elementary SchoolStevens Elementary SchoolO'Rourke Middle SchoolBH-BL High School

2017-18 Budget News

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Board of Education Candidates

At the polls on Tuesday, May 16, residents may also elect three members to the BH-BL Board of Education.

To learn more about the candidates, the district will conduct a Meet-the-Candidates Night on Wednesday, May 10 at 7 p.m. in the High School Library.

All residents are invited to pose questions and listen to the candidates discuss their views. If you can't attend in person, the event will be streamed online.

*The statements were provided by the candidates. The opinions contained within are theirs and may not reflect the opinions or views of BH-BL School District leaders or the Board of Education.

Peter Sawyer...

Peter Sawyer

is seeking his second term on the board, where he is currently serving as president and a member of the board’s Strategic Partnerships Committee. He has been an on-and-off BH-BL resident for more than 30 years, and is a 1977 BH-BL graduate.

Peter holds a Ph.D. in social sciences from Syracuse University and is a Department Chair and Director of the Center for Service Learning and Civic Engagement at Hudson Valley Community College. He also is a member of the Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake Rotary Club and the American Sociologist Association. In the past, he has served on several BH-BL committees. Peter lives in Burnt Hills and has two sons who graduated from BH-BL High School. See Peter’s position statement* below.

“As a graduate of the Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake Central Schools and as someone with two children who have gone through our schools, I feel a deep commitment to the community and to the district. I believe we have outstanding schools with tremendous teachers, dedicated staff, excellent administrators, and a community that knows that character, integrity, hard work and education hold the keys to the future.

My ability to contribute to our schools is based on 30 years of working in higher education, in both administration and in teaching. Currently, I work as a Department Chair and Director of the Center for Service Learning and Civic Engagement at Hudson Valley Community College, where I have been since 2001. I supervise faculty and lead a large department that teaches through interactive video, online, traditional and blended formats.

Since I have been on the board, I have been able to support initiatives to create better linkages to college courses and programs at local community 
colleges. I have initiated the development of significant metrics, beyond state testing, which can be used to gauge the success of our schools and inform our decision making.

I have pushed for the use of surveys to evaluate our practices and I have pushed for the strengthening of our partnerships in the community to give our students opportunities for growth and development in a variety of career fields.

I believe my experience over these past three years combined with my back-ground in education put me in a unique position to support the leadership of our schools and to move the district forward. My commitment to our schools and to our community reflects my strong belief in civic engagement and in the Rotary motto ‘service above self.’”

John Blowers...

John Blowers

joined the board in 2006 and has twice served as both board president and vice president. He is a member of the Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake class of 1983 and holds an MBA from the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University.

John is the Senior Operations Director for the Boston-based management consulting firm Public Consulting Group, and is also the author of the novel Life on Tilt. He coaches CYO basketball and is a board member for Junior Achievement. John resides in Ballston Lake and has two children attending BH-BL High School and one child attending O’Rourke Middle School. See John’s position statement* below.

“During good times you find out how good a district is. During bad times you find out how great a district is.

The past several years have been challenging for public education. The Great Recession caused many districts to dramatically reduce staff and program. The ensuing recovery had barely started when NYS Education Department introduced the Regents Reform Agenda. While opinions vary about the appropriateness of these changes, the pace and inclusiveness of how these reforms were introduced are nearly universally criticized. This sequence of events has crippled many districts by depleting resources then introducing initiatives without the proper communication and support structures. BH-BL has been able to navigate these events more successfully than many districts by relentlessly asking ourselves the same question: “What is best for this district?” During the economic downturn, this took on the form of developing a long-range strategic financial plan to help us develop models to navigate the fiscal uncertainty. During the poorly executed reform roll out, this has taken on the form of partnering with educational influencers to correct course while reassuring the community during a period of uncertainty.

During my time on the board, I have endeavored to increase community involvement with understanding the challenges facing our district and developing solutions. I introduced online budget forums and simulcasting/archiving board meetings to increase transparency. I pushed for the creation of a board email account and advocated for the district’s Facebook presence. I led the board’s search efforts to identify our current superintendent and I have been part of a small team developing a long-term strategic plan focused on key district drivers to make our success more predictable and transparent. More recently, I co-chaired a committee to develop solutions to erase growing food service deficits, provided pro bono advisory services to the district’s HR & business office and led the efforts to appoint a student representative to the board.

I welcome the opportunity to continue to serve this community by exploring ways we can deliver quality education in the most responsible manner.”

Don Marshall...

Don Marshall

is seeking his first term on the board. Don served as a teacher in the Peace Corps in Africa after graduating from Butler University. He also has a master’s in social work from Syracuse University and worked as an educator and therapist with at-risk adolescents and their families his entire professional career.

He recently retired after 29 years as Executive Director of The Charlton School. He and his late wife, Karen, have lived in the Burnt Hills for 30 years. Their three children are BH-BL graduates.

In the past, Don was involved in leadership roles within community youth sports programs and served on several school committees. He has also served on a statewide NFP Board of Trustees. See Don’s position statement* below.

“The BH-BL School District has a history of excellence in teaching, admin-istration, and development. This excellence is a result of a commitment to quality made by our community going back generations. My commitment as a potential school board member will be to build on this tradition of effort and excellence.

The effectiveness of any organization is first and foremost established on its financial integrity. Our school budgets must be affordable and sustainable. Reasonable cost containment is the hallmark of any successful organization. While at The Charlton School, I developed and worked with 29 annual budgets. Budgets reflect policy and exist for the purpose of programs. It is the fiduciary responsibility of the Board of Education to develop a budget that supports our educational programs, our staff and our facilities. It is clear that our district has traditionally done this. We must maintain and build on this tradition.

As an administrator at The Charlton School, I helped our staff to develop effective programs for a wide variety of students. I fully understand that staff, at all levels, are the heart of our schools. I also worked closely with a union. I successfully negotiated nine labor contracts with SEIU. The goal of these negotiations was to get a fair and affordable agreement, while maintaining our positive working relationships.

In today’s financial and political environment it is important to advocate for the policies and resources necessary for the development of our public schools. I spent many hours with our elected officials advocating for our schools. As a school board member, I will continue to do this.

Membership on the board carries with it huge responsibilities. If elected, I commit to listening to our stakeholders and to using my mind, my heart and my experience, as a teacher, a school administrator, a board member and a parent, to maintain and to improve our tradition of quality education and fiscal responsibility in our schools.”