In preparation for the upcoming vote on May 15, the four candidates hoping to occupy one of the three available seats on the Cazenovia Central School District Board of Education gathered for a forum on May 3 in Cazenovia High School.
The event was hosted by the League of Women Voters of Cazenovia and attended by about a dozen area residents. Anne Redfern moderated proceedings, and audience members submitted candidate questions regarding topics such as declining enrollment, areas of potential improvement, next year’s budget, incorporating preschool at Burton Street Elementary School and religious education in the district.
Incumbents Cindy Bell Tobey, Karin Marris and Pat Vogl, along with newcomer Nicole McLean, presented their platforms and took turns answering the submitted questions.
Voting will take place at the high school auditorium during the May 15 budget vote. Board member terms last three years. Additional information on the candidates can be found at caz.cnyric.org.
Marris is a lifelong resident of Central New York and has lived in the CCSD for more than 25 years with her husband, Richard. She is seeking re-election for a fourth term, having served on the board for the last nine years. The youngest of her three children is a senior at the high school this year, with her two older daughters enrolled in area colleges. Marris is a graduate of Onondaga Community College, SUNY Upstate Medical Center and Syracuse University College of Law, and has been an attorney for the past 23 years.
She said she thinks a diverse set of opinions on the board allows the best possible solution to be reached, and hopes to continue to enhance the quality of education students of CCSD are given. Marris said although some things have had to be eliminated from the budget in recent years, decisions were made on programs that could possibly be absorbed by community organizations. She discussed the possibility of consolidating the district’s buildings if enrollment continues to decline, and forming a constructive work period for those students who are not dismissed for religious education classes.
McLean was born in Herkimer and moved to Cazenovia eight years ago with her husband, Jim. She is mother to three daughters who currently attend Burton Street Elementary School, and a sales representative for Lilly USA. McLean graduated SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, with a bachelor’s degree in environmental forest biology, and is a member of numerous local organizations.
McLean has not previously served on the board, but said she would like the opportunity. She initially decided to run after observing this year’s budget talks. She believes strongly that academics should come first, with cuts being made to all other areas before affecting educational programming. McLean also suggested budgets be presented to voters line-by-line, allowing them to personally choose how the budget is formed. She is a proponent of renting out space in BSE to an area preschool program, and said she hopes more young families move to Cazenovia to combat declining enrollment.
Cindy Bell Tobey
Tobey has lived in CCSD with her husband, Jim since 1996 and has two daughters currently enrolled in Cazenovia High School. Raised in Baldwinsville, Tobey received a bachelor’s degree from SUNY ESF for construction management, and is employed at the New York State Department of Transportation in Syracuse as a project manager. Having served on the board for the past four years, she is seeking re-election and hopes to continue improving the district’s students and offerings.
Tobey said she strongly believes in community service and open communication between board members and the community. She discussed offering open-tuition to students who reside outside of district lines, and finding creative ways to save funds amid tight budgets, instead of cutting programs. Tobey is open to the idea of vacant BSE classrooms being rented out to a preschool program, and believes there are other times in the week for students to receive religious education, other than during school hours.
Vogl has lived in CCSD with his wife, Laura, for more than 20 years. He is seeking re-election for a fourth term, having served on the board for the last nine years — two of them as president. Two of his children are currently enrolled in Cazenovia High School, with his oldest already graduated both the high school and college. He received a master’s degree in audiology from the University of Buffalo and an MBA in marketing and international affairs from Syracuse University.
Vogl has volunteered for numerous local organizations, including the Cazenovia Parent Teacher Association, and said it is important the district’s tradition of excellence continue with the utmost fiscal responsibility to taxpayers. He said instead of cutting programs, incorporating distance-learning more often and right-sizing classes by alternating years they are offered might help keep costs low. Vogl said he would approve a preschool program in BSE if the space was being rented, and he is in favor of weekly religious education for those students whose parents want them to partake.
Voting will take place from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday, May 15 in the Cazenovia High School Auditorium. Voters will also have the choice of approving three propositions; the proposed 2012-13 budget, school bus purchases and public library support. A detailed pamphlet regarding the budget was recently mailed to district residents, and is available at caz.cnyric.org.
For more information, or to request an absentee ballot, contact the district office at 655-1317.
Pierce Smith is editor of the Cazenovia Republican. He can be reached at 434-8889 ext. 338 or email@example.com.