Incumbents William Farmer and Lee-Ann Mertzlufft plus challenger Jennifer Longtin are running for election to two seats on the BH-BL Board of Education on May 21.
All BH-BL Board of Education members run at large, so the top two vote-getters will be elected to a three-year term of office at no pay.
The Saratoga County League of Women Voters will conduct Meet the Candidates Night this year at 7:30 pm on Tuesday, May 7, in the BH-BL High School Library, 88 Lakehill Road.
The public is invited to attend Meet the Candidates and to pose questions for the candidates to answer. Each candidate will make an opening statement, and then will take turns being first to answer questions from the audience.
Below, in alphabetical order, is brief biographical information about the candidates and a statement from each of them.
He is seeking his second term on the Board and has been a district resident for 18 years. As a partner at Creatacor, Inc., William manages a dimensional marketing business with 55 employees in Clifton Park. He has a communications management degree from Ithaca College, volunteers with the Southern Saratoga Chamber of Commerce and is a former T-ball and basketball coach. He and his wife live in Burnt Hills, with one son at Charlton Heights Elementary and another at the middle school.
"Three years ago, I was honored to be elected by the community to serve on the BH-BL School Board. We have gone through some tough economic times during my tenure, yet the board as a whole has been able to balance quality programs while keeping taxes at historically low rates. The board completed its most important task of appointing a new, forward-thinking Superintendent to ensure the district strives for continuous improvement. Financially, the district is on sound footing and the board is thinking strategically, developing a tool analyzing today’s decisions and their long-term effects.
Personally, I have pushed for greater community involvement believing an informed and participative public is the key to good governance. Being available to the community is essential and I’m always willing to listen to your concerns. I have participated in training sessions and attended the state School Board Conference annually in an effort to further my knowledge. I served as PTA liaison for each elementary school, updated policies and led the effort on a Board Resolution against unfunded mandates.
My guiding principle: No matter the environment, the top priority of any community must be providing the highest caliber education for each and every student. We must offer a challenging, safe and well-rounded experience, ensuring our children have the tools to be the leaders of the future. As board members, we need to consider the long term while balancing the needs of the group with the individual needs of each and every student. My commitment to these goals has only increased as a board member. As a parent, I have witnessed and appreciate the quality and dedication of our staff here at BH-BL. While on the school board, I have experienced the dedication of the administration and teachers, working together to come up with solutions to address the needs of all students.
I am proud of the work the board has done, proud to be a part of the process and ask you to provide me the opportunity to continue representing you and respectfully request your vote on election day."
Jennifer Longtin is seeking her first term on the board. A 12-year resident of the district, she owns Lighthouse Insurance Agency, LLC, an independent insurance agency, and has four employees. Jennifer has spent many hours volunteering in BH-BL classrooms and is currently in her third year as a homeroom parent. She holds a bachelors degree in business and is a member of the BH-BL Business & Professional Association. She and her husband live in Ballston Lake. They have twins attending Stevens Elementary and one child at Pashley Elementary.
“One goal, one passion! Running for my family and yours because we are in this TOGETHER!
Our children are our future and I am seeking election to our Board of Education to be an advocate for our public education, a steward of the district’s resources and a representative for not only my three young children but for the entire community. The Board of Education has one of the most important responsibilities in our society, helping plan the education of our children. The Board’s decisions affect the lives of our students and their parents, the livelihoods of district staff and the economic well-being of the community. Additionally these decisions influence what happens in a school district not only now but well into the future.
I am so proud to be a part of the BH-BL community and raising my children in the BH-BL school district. I have a strong commitment to the education of the children in our community. The dedicated teachers in the BH-BL school district are committed to our children and play a major role in nurturing the children’s talent, cultivating their young minds and making them successful individuals. I am so passionate about supporting our teachers and encourage them to continue being creative and dedicated to our children’s academic success. Working together with the teachers of our community, listening, embracing and applying what they need will ensure that not only does BH-BL have the best teachers but that we work together for the optimum goal, which is the education of our children.
If elected, I will bring my own unique experiences to the board table. I have a great deal of passion for our children and believe in keeping them first. I promise to focus on important issues, treat all individuals with respect, and get the information necessary to make good decisions. Above all, I promise to have the capacity to grow and learn as I recognize the scope of the responsibilities of service on the Board. I will work unremittingly to help the BH-BL community understand the importance of proper support for public education, whether it be in providing adequate finance, optimum facilities, staffing and resources, or better educational programs for our children. I would be proud to serve our community as a BH-BL Board of Education member.”
Lee-Ann Mertzlufft is seeking her second term on the board. Currently board vice president and Finance Committee chair, she is the director/owner of Options with Learning, LLC, a 10-person business serving students with special education needs. A Girl Scout leader for 10 years, Lee-Ann is a member of the BH-BL Business & Professional Association, the Town of Ballston Ethics Committee, and past member of the Ballston Community Library Strategic Planning Committee. A BH-BL resident for seven years, Lee-Ann and her husband live in Ballston Lake. They have one child in college, one at the high school, and one at Stevens Elementary.
“Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake is a great district with an abundance of pride and passion for our children and community. It is a place where people choose to live. Dedication from our teachers, Board members, administrators, support staff and community is evident every day in our children’s life. Yet, life is not simple and the decisions placed before each and every board member are not simple. These decisions take care, compassion and thoughtfulness. Being a Board of Education member is not an easy role to fill, but it is fulfilling. My profession allows me to bring to the Board experience that allows me to complete this role with the depth of knowledge this post requires.
Today’s children are our future and we have a responsibility to provide the highest caliber education we can offer with high expectations for all children. A new system placed by our federal government has changed BH-BL’s instruction to our children basically overnight. These changes are the main reason I supported the recommendations of our Kindergarten Task Force, and outwardly voiced my support.
Since being on the Board, I have worked with all parties to restore programs which were cut from our budget, and at the same time, I have worked to present responsible school budgets for our community members while meeting the educational needs of our district’s students. BH-BL is currently a top rate area district, and that is not by default. Maintaining this status takes cooperation from district staff and our community at large as well as the engagement of our outstanding students.
I am proud to have been involved with creating a long term, five year financial plan that puts in place new approaches for learning. As Vice President and Finance Chair this year, I have played a pivotal role in creating the budget which puts forward a tax levy below the NYS allowance for the district. It does not cut any staff positions or programs. To better protect our students, we are adding a full time Director of School Safety and Security.
My diverse experience leaves me uniquely qualified in having the ability to see issues from many different perspectives which is often needed when being part of a team that has so much influence over children’s lives. I have been a staunch and dedicated advocate for the students of BH-BL throughout my first term and ask for your support.”