2023-24 Board of Education Elections

Who is running for the Board of Education on the 2023-24 ballot?

On May 16 residents may elect three members to the Board of Education for three-year terms.

There is a Meet-the-Candidate Night on Tuesday, May 9 at 7 pm in the BH-BL High School Library. The event is hosted and run by high school Student Government Organization (SGO) members. Follow this link to watch a live stream of the event.

Board of Education Candidates (in order as they appear on the ballot)

Don Marshall is seeking his third term on the board. He served as a teacher in the Peace Corps in Africa after graduating from Butler University. He also holds a master’s degree in social work from Syracuse University. Don was an educator and therapist for at-risk adolescents and their families his entire professional career, and was the Executive Director of The Charlton School for 30 years. Don was involved in leadership roles with community youth sports programs and served on several school committees. He also served on a statewide NFP Board of Trustees. He and his late wife, Karen, have lived in Burnt Hills for more than 30 years. Their three grown children are BH-BL alum. See his position statement below.

“I have always understood that being on the Board of Education is a responsibility and a privilege. As a current school board member, I am very aware that I represent the students, the families, and the entire BH-BL community.

I was president of the Board when our school district was confronted with the sudden crisis of the COVID pandemic. I am proud of how quickly and professionally our district responded to this generational challenge to our students’ health and education. We adjusted swiftly to this challenge with a comprehensive plan that focused on keeping our students safe, while maximizing our resources and opportunities to keep them in school and learning. The implementation of this ambitious plan was aided by the fact that we had a modern technical infrastructure in place, including providing every student in grades 4-12 with a computer. The plan was complex, but what made it effective was the tremendous effort on the part of our entire district staff, at all levels, as well as on the support and extraordinary efforts of our families and, of course, the maturity of our students. There were many heros.

Still, the data shows that some learning losses occurred for almost all students. Our current efforts and highest priority is focused on implementing the strategies and structures necessary to help our students recover from their learning losses as completely and quickly as possible.

The data also shows that some students experienced emotional challenges during the pandemic. The District is adding resources to provide additional support services to these students as they move forward in their social, emotional and academic growth.

I ask you to consider voting for me for a final term on the Board as we complete this important process. In return, I renew my commitment to work hard at expanding upon tradition of providing our students with a relevant, comprehensive, and fact-based education that they and our community have come to expect. I will do this with an eye on cost containment and the efficient use of our, and your, resources. Thank you.”

Lakshmi Nagarajan is seeking her second term on the BH-BL Board of Education. She has always been very involved in the school community and is currently serving as secretary for the High School PTSA and the O’Rourke Middle School PTA. Lakshmi continues to stay involved in the district through volunteering in PTA, school, and athletic activities. Lakshmi is the Director of Operations at Holistic Wealth Advisors. She holds her MBA from the University of Connecticut and holds the professional designation of Certified Financial Planner. She and her husband James moved to the District in 2007. They have two children currently enrolled in BH-BL schools. See Lakshmi’s position statement below.

“It is my honor to have the opportunity to run for the Board of Education. Having served one term already, I now feel I have a level of understanding of processes and issues and I look forward to using this knowledge to continue to effectively serve our community. I am passionate about community involvement in our district. Constituents should be able to voice and debate different policies and proposals while administrators and educators should be empowered to implement best practices. This process should be transparent to all stakeholders to encourage open communication and support. This is so important to students’ education as so much occurs outside of the traditional school day.

The connection between the district, its taxpayers, and government leadership is vital to the prosperity of the community—affecting everything from quality of life issue like crime rates to economic factors like housing prices and employment. Our district’s ongoing success will continue the current work of the Board balancing fiscal responsibility with educational proficiency.

While local involvement is important at the district level, we need to stay innovative and competitive at state, national and global levels. Our community has the best perspective to determine what our needs are to continue the high levels of achievement for BH-BL. We do rely on financial support from the government, but we should push back on broad educational mandates that do not make sense for us while maximizing monetary and infrastructure support for which we qualify. Competing demands for resources at all grade levels must be considered when difficult decisions arise. These needs must be balanced against budgetary restrictions and constraints and the reality that taxpayers have priorities for tax dollars outside of education. Balancing all stakeholder views leads to the community’s overall success.

As a resident for over 15 years, I love our community’s commitment to all its residents. I am fully committed to continuing to serve the district that influences our families, our children, their minds and futures. I am invested in the best interests of our community and our children so I will always look for a path that considers the betterment of both. I would be truly honored for the opportunity to continue to serve on the Board of Education.”

James Ireland is seeking his first term on the Board of Education. He and his wife Kim have been district residents for 21 years. They have two children who attend the high school. Jim is a graduate of St. Lawrence University where he studied math and economics, and earned a Bachelor’s degree. He works as a Mortgage Loan Originator for Ballston Spa National Bank. Jim is also a 2015 graduate of the award-winning Leadership Saratoga program. Over the years, Jim has been heavily involved in numerous school committees and associations as well as community activities. He and his family also play an integral role in the BH Track Club, both within the district and the community. See Jim’s position statement below.

“More than 20 years ago, my wife and I moved to Burnt Hills knowing that we would be raising a family and wanted to live in a good school district. We made the right decision. We are raising two amazing daughters who we are so very proud of. One is a senior headed to SUNY Geneseo in the fall and our youngest is a freshman.

For the last 13 years, I have worked for Ballston Spa National Bank, which has encouraged me to volunteer in our community and schools. For many years, I have been an active member of the BH-BL Business Professional Association (BPA), having served as President and a member of the board. Through the BPA, I have helped organize the Community Flag Day Parade. Additionally, I have been a volunteer soccer coach for Burnt Hills United and as a driver for the Saratoga County Office for the Aging Meals on Wheels program. Specific to the school, I have volunteered and served in a number of capacities that provide me insight from different perspectives. When it comes to school operations, I have participated on two hiring committees and Co-chaired the last Bond Referendum Committee and I am serving again in that role for the current Bond Referendum Committee. I also served on the O’Rourke Middle School Building Council, taught Junior Achievement at Charlton Heights, participated on the Charlton Heights Playground Build Committee, and currently serve as President of the BH Track Club (the booster club for the three running sports).

BH-BL has made shared decision making a priority and I have experienced and participated in it first hand. During my six years on the middle school’s Building Council as a parent representative, I saw the importance of bringing all parties to the table to create and make recommendations to the Board. The Building Council worked on literacy, project-based learning, block scheduling, and the impact COVID had on learning.

I bring a proven track record of serving the community and I would welcome the opportunity to help guide and ensure our district’s success going forward. Please consider voting for me to serve and represent you on the BH-BL School Board.”