May 08, 2009 Ami Olson Uncategorized
Community involvement, support a must
I was born in Syracuse and grew up at Kelly’s Corners with my three sisters and parents, Alice and Jack Kelly. I attended Marcellus Central Schools and graduated in 1972. In 1976 I graduated from LeMoyne College with a Political Science/ Economics degree. After three years in New York City, I chose to return home. I have lived in the Marcellus district for virtually my entire life. I, along with my wife, Linda, and my two sons, Greg and Jeff, currently reside on Fairbanks Drive. Greg is a senior at Marcellus and Jeff a freshman.
For the last 15 years I have been an account manager for Forsythe Solutions Group selling information technology and consulting services.
I am proud to be running for re-election to the MCS Board of Education.
Briefly describe your involvement with the school district in the last five years.
I was appointed for the 2008-09 school year, to fill the vacancy created by Tom Sopchak’s departure. Serving as a member of the Board has allowed me to gain an understanding of its responsibilities. The Board provides oversight and leadership to the district. We set instructional goals, develop policies, adopt budgets and monitor spending. We also oversee the expansion and maintenance of school facilities. It has been an honor to serve the district as a member of the BOE.
In the community, I’ve been involved Boy Scout Troop 66 for 7 years. I am active with Parish Council, Knights of Columbus, and Religious Education at the Church of St. Michael/St. Peter. I have participated in the MCS Booster Club for years.
My favorite activity, however, has been with the many school-related activities with my two sons and nieces and nephew that are students at MCS.
What is your motivation for running for a position on the school board?
I am passionate about public education and the role it plays in the community. Therefore I want to be the best possible representative of the concerns and ideas of Marcellus residents to the board. I feel that my unbiased and common sense views can benefit all. I will work to listen to people’s feelings and share them with the BOE to facilitate good decisions and choices. The community needs to be involved and supportive of the public education system.
My primary impetus is to be sure that all students are represented; students of all ages, those in the fine arts programs, athletics, special education programs, and vocational interests. All levels of academic performance deserve attention. Some students go on to college, some do not, but both are equally important.
Another motivation is to verify the district’s directions, policies, plans and goals are best for all of our students, administration, staff, and residents. The concept of continued improvement in curriculum and performance must remain. Budgets must be accurate, and taxpayers fairly treated. Teachers and staff should be recognized for their hard work.
In summary, my motivation is to be involved, make things happen, listen well, contribute ideas/solutions, and promote a flow of accurate information in a timely manner.
With two meetings a month, the board is relatively limited in what it can accomplish. How should the board decide what is most important?
Yes, there are only two scheduled meetings a month, but they are well organized. The time together is used effectively. The BOE is constantly involved with School issues. Members receive information from the CNY and NYS School Board Associations. This helps stay current on topics affecting education and school operations. Each BOE meeting agenda is prepared well in advance and very content packed.
Outside of the meetings, members attend school functions, activities, and meet with and lobby local legislature to discuss issues that affect our schools. We also interact with the community, school personnel and students.
What are the current challenges facing the board?
The single biggest challenge we face this year is the economy and its impact on school funding. The NY State and national economic conditions have already and may continue to reduce State Aid.
Our focus is to provide the best school environment, experience, and education that can be provided in a financially prudent responsible manner.
This year, Federal stimulus funds allowed the restoration of NYS aid. Without this the district would have faced significant teacher and program cuts, a reduction in student activities, and larger class sizes.
We are also challenged to continually strive to improve.
What do you think will be the board’s biggest challenges in the next three years?
I believe the BOE and all public and private schools will face many challenges within the next three years such as:
NYS and national economic conditions could further reduce State aid
Possible legislation for a Property Tax Cap
Annual budgets will increase in cost due to contractual obligations and benefit costs
With budget cuts comes elimination of teaching positions, larger classes and program elimination
Continued pressure to enact and fund state and federal mandated programs
MCS has a large district and campus. Thought and action is required to maintain and improve facilities.
Like all districts we face student safety issues and a growing drug and alcohol abuse problem. We must keep students safe and work with the community to address abuse and behavioral issues.
If it becomes necessary to make significant budget cuts, to what extent should the community be involved in deciding where such cuts should be made?
With the economic uncertainty, the possibility of significant budget cuts is real. MCS is a $30,000,000 business providing for the all around education and safety of our children. The School also provides an identity and a physical focal point of the community.
However the budget is a very significant expense to our taxpayers.
The community should be involved in decisions on budget cutbecause it impacts all. If this situation does occur, I am confident that input from the community would be solicited and used in any decisions. People need to contact school representatives and express opinions. Residents should attend Board and Town Hall meetings. We vote for elected officials to represent our feelings but we must provide input so that a consensus can be reached and decisions made.