May 13, 2010 Erin Wisneski Uncategorized
Three Baldwinsville Board of Education seats are up for election this year with four candidates vying for the three seats.
The candidates are incumbents Lawrence Ordway (current vice president) and Joan Reeves, as well as contenders Kenneth Dwyer and Steve Schweitzer. Current board member Greg Hudson has decided not to run.
Residents will have the opportunity to cast their votes during next week’s budget vote and board election. The polls will be open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday May 18 in the auditorium of Baker High School at 29 E. Oneida St. in the village. Once elected by the public, the board members will elect the president and vice president during the annual organizational meeting in July.
The Baldwinsville Messenger recently interviewed the candidates to see what issues they feel are facing the Baldwinsville Central School District. Featured below are candidate Lawrence Ordway’s responses:
Lawrence Micha Ordway
Years living in Baldwinsville:
“I have lived in Baldwinsville since 1999 (11 years). I decided to move to Baldwinsville because it reminded me so much of my hometown of Plaistow. I met my wife Kristen (Boivin) Ordway shortly after moving to Baldwinsville and decided to make Baldwinsville my home.”
“I have been on the board for six years (in June) and am currently its vice president.”
Experience in the Educational Field:
“I am not a professional educator, but I have gained a significant amount of experience through being a member of the board and simply by paying attention. In the interest of full disclosure, my wife is a middle school teacher in another school district, and I have learned quite a bit about education from her.”
What makes you qualified to serve on the Baldwinsville Board of Education?
“I am qualified to serve on the board due in part to my six years on the board itself and my many years of experience as an attorney practicing in the area of labor and employment. During my time on the board, I have learned how extremely complicated it is to operate a school district and to develop a budget that provides funding for both the programs that service our students’ educational needs and that is fiscally sound. School districts are charged with balancing their primary goal of providing a high quality education to students with its fiscal responsibilities to taxpayers. Balancing these seemingly counter-opposed purposes has become increasingly difficult in light of the fiscal challenges facing New York.”
“Currently, most school districts in the state receive significantly less educational funding from the state. Less state aid forces school districts like Baldwinsville (incidentally, state aid comprises approximately half of Baldwinsville’s budget) to reduce their budgets. Unfortunately, budgets can be reduced only so far without affecting program or personnel. In Baldwinsville, we have tried to minimize the effect of decreased state aid on program by developing a zero net increase budget from last year’s budget. However, these reductions alone cannot negate the total amount of the district’s loss of state aid. This forced the district to reduce personnel because it comprises the largest part of our budget. Fortunately, the district was able to make most, but not all, of its reductions through attrition and retirements.”
What are the issues facing the Baldwinsville Central School District?
“As you can see, operating a school district in these uncertain times is extremely difficult and requires a great deal of experience, insight and foresight. I have gained this experience during my tenure on the board and due to my experience as an attorney. I hope to use this experience to do my part to guide Baldwinsville through the fiscal uncertainties that we will face over the next few years.”
If elected, how do you intend to address those issues?
“I have discussed the most significant challenges that Baldwinsville will face in the future. Unfortunately, I foresee these fiscal challenges continuing for the next three to five years (and possibly longer). The difficulties caused by state aid reductions will be compounded by the recent reduction in the county sales tax revenue sharing, by the possible reduction or loss of real property tax revenue due to an Article 7 tax cert. cased that is ongoing in Baldwinsville and by the loss of federal stimulus aid after next year. The district also faces greater operational expenses due to increases in healthcare costs and retirement contributions. These revenue losses and increased expenses will cause the district to make very difficult choices over the next few years. I will fight to minimize the impact of these issues on programs (our children) and on district employees. Let us not forget that district employees have families and are dependent upon their employment. Dramatic reductions in staffing and benefits will also have a larger effect on our community through the further loss of highly educated people from our region. Reductions in our program that affect the quality of education in our district could harm the greater Baldwinsville community. Unlike other communities, Baldwinsville has enjoyed significant growth over the last few years. The reputation of the school district and the quality of education provided to our children contributes to this growth. Any loss of reputation and quality of education could dramatically harm our community through a loss of growth. I will do my part to ensure that Baldwinsville continues to be a great place to live and does not suffer the same fate as many of the other upstate suburban communities.”
When it comes to the district budget, what are your priorities?
“As a parent with a child in this district, my first priority for the district is to continue providing a high quality education for our children. As I have discussed, this priority must be balanced with our obligation to be fiscally responsible to the taxpayers in Baldwinsville and to minimize the impact of the losses of state aid and other revenue streams. The real property, income and ad velorum taxes paid by the citizens of New York are some of the highest in the nation. Our tax burden is simply unsustainable, but it could be reduced in upstate New York as it relates to education through a fair and equitable distribution of state educational aid between upstate and downstate. A reduction in unfunded educational mandates would also help.”
Regarding the budget, how do you propose to deal with federal, state and local cuts to financial aid?
“As a sitting board member, I cannot discuss the manner in which the district may address these challenges in great detail. However, the district is in sound fiscal position to weather the current economic environment, and I will advocate for the use of its reserves (which are the equivalent of its savings) to offset the aforementioned revenue losses and to minimize the staff reductions that will ultimately affect programming (which will itself affect the education received by our children). I also believe that the costs of benefits could be reduced through self insurance without altering the benefits received by district employees. Finally, the district should expand its existing energy efficiency plan to create greater awareness about simple methods to reduce our energy expenses, which are significant.”