On May 18, in addition to voting on the 2021-22 School Budget and the continuation of an ex officio student board member, residents will elect two of the three candidates running for the board. The candidates, in the order they will appear on the ballot and in the budget newsletter, are incumbent David Versocki, newcomer Ben Riehlman, and incumbent Lisa M. Morse. (The order is based on a random drawing names.)
Learn more about the candidates at Meet-the-Candidates Night on Thursday, May 13 from 7-8 pm. This event will be both in person and streamed live. The event will be held in the Spartan Center LGI Room at the High School, 88 Lakehill Road. Due to limited seating, please reserve a seat by emailing Tara Mitchell at firstname.lastname@example.org. [LIVE STREAM LINK]
Additionally, below is information about the candidates that is in the budget newsletter mailed to resident the week of May 3.
Please Submit Questions in Advance. The Saratoga County League of Women Voters will be moderating this event. They are kindly asking that residents who have questions for the candidates to try to submit them ahead of time. Questions should be sent to email@example.com with Burnt Hills- Ballston Lake in the subject line.
David is seeking his second term on the board. Before becoming the Director of Technology at Capital Region BOCES, he was a school administrator and a high school math and computer teacher. Versocki is a 1986 graduate of BH-BL High School. He holds a BA from Hartwick College, a master’s from Union College, and earned his Administrative Certification from Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts. In the past, he was a co-chair of BH-BL’s 2013 Capital Project Committee, a member of the Galway Lake Sailing Club, and a coach for the Burnt Hills girls travel basketball, youth softball, and youth lacrosse teams. Versocki is a lifelong resident, and he and his wife, Amy, have a daughter who is a senior at the high school. *See his position statement below.
“During the past three years, I have had the privilege of serving on the BH-BL Board of Education. This experience has added another perspective to my broad range of educational experiences that include: teaching mathematics, coaching, and being a district/regional administrator. With the bulk of my professional career spent on either directly educating or providing technology programs and supports for students and teachers to be successful, I believe I have a well-rounded background to serve the BH-BL community in a second term as a Board of Education member.
The past 13 months have forced all of us to pause and reflect on how we deliver (or shouldn’t delivery) education including all of the supports required for student and staff success. The lessons learned and struggles experienced should provide us all with a solid basis for considering how we can potentially deliver instruction or run the business of education. These conversations will bring students, parents, staff and community members out of their comfort zones, but will ultimately provide a self reflection of who we are and what we want to be for our children.
With a goal of developing life-long learners, we must adapt to a changing environment. As I stated three years ago, lifelong learning is not solely about academic endeavors. I strongly believe that all of the other opportunities we offer our students in areas such as community service, extracurriculars, clubs, arts, social events, and athletics are all a part of this development. These opportunities provide students a connection to the district and community through something they are passionate about. As the state fiscal climate changes in education, so will our thinking.
In order to deliver the high-quality education we expect for our students, we continually face fiscal challenges. As we take a hard look at the delivery of instruction and related services, we will also need to continue to use our 5-year budget planning process to keep our eyes on the future as well as setting annual budgets. Also, we need to continue to maintain and improve our facilities. Our 5- year cycle of capital projects has served the district well.
I look forward to serving the BH-BL community in a second term as a member of our district’s Board of Education.
Ben is seeking his first term on the Board. He grew up on a dairy farm in Central New York. He worked in construction and was a cook at Friendly’s while attending college. As such, he has a deep appreciation for those who work with their hands and believes trade apprenticeships should be a focal point in education. Ben earned multiple college degrees (math, science, technology, education and world history) and holds two teaching certificates in social studies and technology. He is a technology teacher to special education students at Madison-Oneida BOCES. He also adjuncts at SCCC. Ben and his wife, Brenda, were drawn to the district due to its high-quality reputation, and during the eight years they have resided, their expectations have been consistently exceeded. They have two children: a 7-year-old son and a 3-year-old daughter. *See Ben’s position statement below.
“NYS’s effort to “re-imagine” education will result in the degradation of our schools. Our community, not feckless state leaders, know what is best. The botched Covid response, resulting in exceedingly high death tolls, livelihoods ruined, civil liberties violated and never-ending social programming, highlights the state’s ineptitude.
Never in our lifetimes have such drastic measures been taken. At the onset, social-distancing and hygiene-protocols seemed noble. However, with the benefit of hindsight, it’s clear that these measures were ill conceived and had negligible impact in culling the spread. Those dying of covid average 78.6 years old (the average life expectancy). Meanwhile, rates of child abuse, mental illness, divorce, drug abuse and suicide skyrocket.
Health bureaucrats offer dubious guidance and recommend absurd policies: “Wear masks outside, big box stores are open, small businesses are closed, liquor and pot shops open, churches and gyms closed, mask up when entering restaurants, unmask at your table.” Does this make any sense to you?
People are sick until proven healthy; a precept that is antithetical to our cultural values, of innocent until proven guilty. Students look like infirmed hostages: Daily temperature checks, segregated cubicles, masked faces and no physical contact. This is abhorrent and wrong. Teachers and administrators, hamstrung by governmental edicts, are still managing to teach despite these nonsensical protocols.
Fear-mongering politicians, abetted by media propagandists, are perpetuating this lunacy. There are many things to be feared in life, but covid is not one, with survival rates above 99.98%.
We teach our children that life has risks and to pick your battles. You can bubble wrap yourself, stay shut inside and will never get hit by a car or skin your knee, but you will also never truly live. What legacy are we leaving our children, teaching them to be afraid of a very survivable virus? Certainly, if you are elderly/infirmed, take prudent precautions, but the societal measures that we have taken have reached the level of insanity.
We must show our children resiliency in the face of adversity and choose for OURSELVES which risks are worth taking. Let’s return to the Old Normal. Re-open society and re-open schools fully. No preconditions, no social distancing, no masking and no more irrational fear.”
Lisa M. Morse
Lisa is a 19-year resident who is seeking her second term on the board. She is currently a NYS certified insurance agent. She previously worked at the Ballston Spa School District and Glenville YMCA. She has an associate’s degree and a paralegal degree from Herkimer Community College. She was a member of BH-BL’s 2013 Capital Project Committee and a past member of the Scotia Rotary. Morse is a 20-year member of the Church of Immaculate Conception where she held various positions. She’s also the treasurer (and past president) of the Field Hockey Booster Club. She lives in Glenville with her husband, has a daughter attending O’Rourke Middle School, and four children who are BH-BL graduates. *See Morse’s position statement below.
“During my time on the Board I have served on the Hiring Committee for the Assistant Superintendent for K-12 Instruction, Assistant High School Principal, and Director of K-12 Science Instruction. This year I was the Chair of the Audit Committee, a member of the Finance and Diversity Committees, a Board Representative for the Inclusive Practices Committee, and a member of BH-BL Education Foundation.
My husband Michael and I raised five children in this district. One of our first positive experiences here was when we went to O’Rourke Middle School to watch youth soccer and there were more than a hundred parents, grandparents, and siblings watching the game. Right then and there we knew we had found the right fit for our family. This initial experience has carried through with so many of the experiences that followed, from our children’s first jobs at the Glenville YMCA to band, orchestra, and athletics events. We are grateful for all of these experiences that BH-BL and the community have afforded our children and, most importantly, the lessons they learned by participating.
My previous jobs (teacher aide and teacher assistant) gave me the opportunity to work in special education classrooms and see firsthand the challenges/needs of that population of students. Throughout my time at BH-BL, in whatever my capacity, I have been a passionate advocate for all of our students, whether it be for their education or mental or physical health, and I look forward to continuing in the future with the community’s support. It is my belief that every child needs a champion, whether it’s a parent, teacher, coach, or advisor, and that every child and staff member needs to feel safe and supported in their learning/professional growth and their mental or physical health. Community members need to feel confident that their tax dollars are being spent prudently and with purpose. School should be a place where children are celebrated, staff is lifted up, and the community welcomed. I believe that with support and encouragement every child, no matter their challenges, can learn, enjoy, and participate in clubs, arts, and athletics. I am proud that four of our children graduated from BH-BL with our fifth going to the high school next year. With your support and vote, I know I can continue to assist BH-BL schools be the safe, supportive learning community that enriches all students, staff members, and residents.”
* The statements for each candidates’ bio were written 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.