School board and budget elections will be held Tuesday, May 16. For an overview of the school budget, see our infographic above.
Baldwinsville Central School District voters will choose from the following four candidates for three open seats. All are full three-year terms. Of the four candidates, Matthew Yager and Jeffrey Marier are incumbents, while Joel Lorenzo and Jennifer Patruno are challengers.
My family and I have had the pleasure of living in Baldwinsville since moving back to New York in 2006. My wife, Dena, and I have two children in the district (at Ray Middle School and Durgee Junior High). I work at Syracuse University as an academic counselor in the David B. Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics. Prior to SU, I worked in similar roles at Michigan State University and at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and had an opportunity to take time off to spend with my children as a stay-at-home dad.
With the school district being the cornerstone of the community, I am grateful for the opportunity to contribute. Being engaged in our great community and supporting students through education and extracurricular activities is important to me.
Having completed my first term as a member of the board of education in Baldwinsville, I believe I have had a positive impact and I truly want to continue supporting our schools and community as a board member for a second term.
I believe having diverse experience and viewpoints is critical to the success of any Board of Education. The board needs to work as a cohesive team. While differences of opinion are healthy, members need to be able to have a respectful and productive debate about what is in the best interest of our students, staff and community. My background provides me with the insight to understand the skills our students will need to achieve to become career and college ready. I also have the ability to help build consensus, resolve conflicts, as well as listen to and understand the concerns of others.
I have proven board experience having already served on the board of education since 2014. I am a member of the Policy and Technology committees as well as chairperson of the Audit Committee. Additionally, my career experience positions at several universities prepares me with the knowledge of challenges and expectations facing college students. As an academic counselor, I assist students with overall curriculum and career planning as well as helping them resolve other educational, social and emotional concerns.
In my opinion, one of the biggest issues all public schools are facing is state funding. Albany is making progress; however, schools are still under tremendous pressure to provide essential and required services, while not overburdening our local taxpayers. We will continue to work through our local and state organizations to encourage New York state to provide adequate funding to public education.
Additionally, we are not immune to the challenges our students and families face everywhere with regard to mental health and substance abuse. The district has recently made tremendous strides to address and educate our students and community of these epidemics and as a board member I will continue to encourage and support the district in its efforts to provide the education and resources that will ensure our students have the safest and healthiest learning environment possible.
Finally, Baldwinsville’s reputation for excellence continues to attract families with children to our district. While our reputation is a source of pride, it also brings challenges. It is critical that the board and administration has to ensure that we have long-range plans that provide a flexible annual budget to accommodate growth in the district and at the same time are mindful of our fiduciary responsibility to our taxpayers.
I moved to Baldwinsville in 2011 with my husband, David, and our sons, Jonathan and Christopher, because of the opportunities Baldwinsville schools have to offer inside and outside of the classrooms. Our boys attend Van Buren Elementary School.
I earned a B.S. in health and sports science from Wake Forest University, a B.S. in secondary education science in biology from Oneonta State, and an M.S. in health education from Cortland State. I am a NYS certified teacher in biology, chemistry, general science and health. Prior to having children, I taught seventh grade Life Science and high school Chemistry.
I am the founder and director of Aim High Running Camp, which was started in 1997 for middle and high school distance runners. The camp focuses on developing skills in team building, goal setting and leadership. I develop the safety plan, ensure NYS Department of Health regulations are followed, hire and manage 58 employees and conduct staff training. I work collaboratively with the site’s facility, health, waterfront and food service directors.
I sat on a science ad-hoc committee and volunteered for two budget committees for the 2017-18 school budget. My other volunteer activities include assisting with the Van Buren Elementary running club, coaching my son’s Upward basketball team and being active with various Van Buren PTA programs.
Serving on the school board would be an incredible opportunity to serve the community in two areas I am passionate about — kids and education. With that said, I initially got involved because I brought concerns to the board that were not being addressed, at least not publicly, and they should have been. My major concerns up to this point have been policies in the area of curriculum. Students only have a finite amount of time in our schools, and every student deserves an education that is challenging, yet appropriate, so they can reach their full potential. It is important students are treated as individuals and not lumped into a one-size-fits all model. They must be given every opportunity possible to excel by being provided a solid foundation each step of the way. Our kids go to school to get an education and the curriculum is the core. The goals and policies tied to it are very important, and every decision matters. For further detailed information, please visit my website, patruno.com.
I have no agenda other than improving the educational experience for all students. The district has struggled with curriculum, especially in the areas of math and science. With the adoption of the Next Generation Science Standards by NYS, the science curriculum will again be going through new changes. Ultimately the board of education will have to approve the changes and oversee the implementation of this. My knowledge in this area can be an asset to the board.
I feel I am prepared for the position. I have attended every board of education meeting since Nov. 9, 2015, and spoken at many. My efforts and submitted reports resulted in the district adding NYS-mandated math and science curriculum back into our classrooms. This experience has given me a solid understanding of what has been going on in our district in the many areas I would be responsible for overseeing. I have already been doing what I promise I will do if elected — ask the tough questions, examine and research all issues and listen to all stakeholders. Lastly, you will never have to guess where I stand on any issue. I am asking for your vote and in return you deserve to know where I stand on everything, and you will.
Residential development is growing in our school district. Right now, most of our elementary schools are at capacity and some students are currently displaced and not in the same school as their neighbors. Planning will need to begin to address what this may look like for our community.
Another issue is the reading scores. We need to find ways to make improvements in this area. The district is starting a new reading program at the elementary level, which is a great start. Having a good foundation in reading is very important so one can succeed in all areas.
Our district offers a nice selection of college level and AP courses at the high school. Voids need to be filled for our students who don’t want to take college level classes. More variety needs to be offered at various levels that meet the needs of all students.
I am a resident of Baldwinsville with my wife, Susan, and two children, Natalie and Nathan, who both currently attend the Baldwinsville Central School District. I received a M.S. in electrical engineering from Syracuse University and a B.S. in electrical engineering from the University of Toledo (Ohio). I am currently an engineering manager at Anaren Microwave in East Syracuse. I am a US Air Force Persian Gulf veteran, an Eagle Scout and a member of the Leadership Greater Syracuse Class of 2009.
I am currently the school board vice president and am serving (or have served) as a member of the following district committees: Technology, Facilities, Policy, Communications and Health Insurance. I am a strong advocate for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math (STEAM) education and I remain focused on long range planning to ensure the Baldwinsville Central School District will continue to be a high performing school district well into the future.
Over the last six years of serving on the Baldwinsville school board, I have learned a great deal about the roles of a school board: develop and oversight of yearly budgets, create a long-term district vision and plan, set the direction for high academic achievement, adopt and maintain district policies and hire and evaluate the superintendent.
The current composition of the Baldwinsville school board provides the district with a very diverse range of professional expertise from the health care, banking, engineering, nonprofit and teaching professions. My professional experience as a school board member, electrical engineer, business and community leader as well as my strong working relationship with all current school board members and superintendent make me one of the most qualified school board candidates running this year.
As a member of the Baldwinsville school board, I have dedicated a significant amount of time to the school district and have a strong understanding of the duties and expectations of a school board member. With my experience, dedication and strong working relationship with the current school board, superintendent and the rest of the district staff, I am well positioned to continue as a highly effective member of the Baldwinsville school board. I have also learned the importance of providing sufficient board oversight but still allowing the superintendent, administration and teachers to run the day-to-day operations of the district and educate our students without school board micromanagement.
When I first joined the Baldwinsville school board in 2011, the biggest issues facing our schools in Baldwinsville, as well as statewide, were fiscal challenges of increased budget needs and unfunded state mandates at the same time New York state was cutting education funding. During this timeframe, the district was able to successfully plan and manage our finances to stay within our budget limits.
Today, with some state funding being restored and some fiscal stress reduced, we are able to focus more on other issues that face our district with a few of the top ones being:
For more information, please visit bville2017.com. My contact information is available on this website so feel free to call or email me directly with questions or comments.
I am 38 years old and come from a bilingual family where I am the third of four boys whose parents were both ministers for the Salvation Army. Growing up we often moved to places ranging from Puerto Rico to Brooklyn. Throughout our childhood my father always stressed the importance of education. This never made sense to me as we were growing up in neighborhoods where many of the residents did not attend formal schooling, and Spanish was often their primary language.
In my junior year, my parents moved to Syracuse, where I graduated from Liverpool High School. I then continued my education at OCC, attaining an associate’s degree while working full time. Shortly thereafter, I attended SUNY ESC, where I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in business administration and marketing.
In 2007, I began my career in insurance began at Nationwide. Two years ago, I transitioned into my present role at The Hartford as a senior adjuster handling toxic tort matters spanning all 50 states. Recently, my wife and I purchased our first rental property in the village of Baldwinsville, which I remodeled with the help of my wife and our two sons.
My wife Colleen and I have been married for nine years and have three beautiful children (Julian, 8, Oliver, 7, and Brooklyn, 2). We built our home in the wonderful community of Radisson in 2013. Julian began at McNamara the first year in which kindergarten transitioned from half-day to full-day. My wife is currently the VP of programs for McNamara’s PTA and has seized many volunteer opportunities (Holiday Shoppe, book fair, Summer Olympics) prior to her formal position on the PTA board.
I am running for the board position because of my desire to continue the trajectory that has been set forth by past and present board members. Baldwinsville schools continue to lead the charge and are an example to the surrounding school districts. The Strategic Plan that is being set forth will advance the district’s goals to erase socioeconomic barriers and to provide all students with equal access to education and resources. I am proud to be a member of the Strategic Plan committee that will set goals for the district and assist with the continued improvement of all the schools.
As a current member of the Strategic Plan Committee and chair of the playground committee for McNamara Elementary, I believe my life experiences coupled with my passion for educating our youth would make me a great candidate. I am an advocate for S.T.E.A.M. and its integrated approach to teaching. Technology is continuously expanding into every aspect of our lives, making it a vital part of our children’s education so that they may enter into careers such as engineering, mathematics and science. Success in these areas will allow continued growth in all aspects of our student population. Our children are the future, and it is critical that we make an investment in their education. My negotiating skills and my analytical approach to problem solving will make me an asset in this position. I am a team player and will do whatever it takes to achieve these goals.
First off, I must mention that it is important that we continue to support our teachers, administrators, and of course students. We need to ensure our teachers are supported, that they are given the right tools for the job, and are treated equitably throughout the District. We must also address the new science standards that are being implemented by the state as of July 2017 to ensure these are evaluated and feedback is sought throughout implementation. Our mission should be to ensure that students perform well, allowing them to experience a sense of readiness for college and/or their career. This can be achieved through teamwork, with the input and feedback of all staff and the community.
Other main areas of focus will be growth, special education and the aging Infrastructure. When I refer to growth, I am speaking of increasing enrollment in our district. Baldwinsville has become a very sought after community for many different reasons, one being the superior school system. It is important that we maintain a good teacher-to-student ratio, support our staff and provide them with the tools needed to do the job, all while ensuring standards are maintained. Recently, we have seen increasing numbers in the population of students with special needs. Personally, I attribute this growth to the fact that our school system has done a superior job in assisting those students with special needs. We will continue to provide the resources necessary to ensure they receive the highest quality of education possible.
Aging infrastructure is a long-term issue which needs also needs our immediate attention. We must commence planning for future expenditures including remodels or new builds. This all has to be done through proper stewardship as we are being entrusted by the community to provide appropriate services while maintaining fiscal responsibility. As a board member and a team player, I will tackle this issue head on. My commitment is to build relationships with other board members, the faculty and the community as a whole. I hope that I can gain your vote on May 17, and I look forward to being at your service as a board member of the Baldwinsville Central School District.
Sarah Hall is the editor of the Eagle Star-Review and the Baldwinsville Messenger. The 2012 winner of the Syracuse Press Club's Selwyn Kershaw Professional Standards Award, she has been with Eagle Newspapers since 2006. She is a Liverpool native.