May 18, 2009 Ami Olson Uncategorized
I am a 1987 graduate of West Genesee; hold a bachelor’s degree in History from SUNY Potsdam and a master’s in education from SUNY Cortland. I am currently pursuing a certificate of advanced studies in the Leadership program at LeMoyne College. I have been a social studies teacher at Onondaga Central for 17 years. After briefly living in Solvay for a few years, my wife Jennifer, also a teacher at OCS, and I moved back to Camillus in 2001. I have coached in the basketball programs at Bishop Ludden and Holy Family for many years and worked 11 summers in the Town of Camillus Parks and Recreation Department. I recently began as a volunteer in the Camillus Youth Baseball and Softball Program. I have three daughters: Erica, Meredith and Mollie.
Briefly describe your involvement with the school district in the last five years.
In October of 2008, I was appointed to fill the vacancy on the West Genesee Board of Education when Jeff Fusco resigned. I am a member of the Policy committee, and recently joined the ad hoc employee benefits committee. It has been a privilege to work with this current board as well as the district and building administrators.
What is your motivation for running for a position on the school board?
My motivation for running for the school board comes from my father Larry James. His 40-plus years as a volunteer in the Fairmount Volunteer Fire Department taught me that public service, while time consuming and often very demanding, is also very rewarding.
With two meetings a month, the board is relatively limited in what it can accomplish. How should the board decide what is most important?
I do not believe that this board is relatively limited to what it can accomplish. We have been broken up into many committees to frame certain issues that are brought to the full board for discussion and sometimes a vote. We have an extremely dynamic administration in place that keeps us informed on daily and weekly events.
What are the current challenges facing the board?
Right now the biggest challenge facing the board is budgeting. While revenue from the state decreased dramatically, costs have risen. I believe that we handled this situation responsibly. It was a collaborative effort on many fronts, and all groups should be pleased with the result.
What do you think will be the board’s biggest challenges in the next three years?
The board’s biggest challenge in the next three years is going to be the same as this year — the budget. It is almost certain the health care costs will rise. It is guaranteed that pension costs will double. This is coming at a time when our revenue may continue to shrink, and I do not believe that this is the time for significant tax increases. Some of the cuts this year were painful; future ones may hurt even more. Another challenge we face, as all schools do today, is safety. Society is changing, and we need to be proactive about issues relating to the safety of our students.
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?
The community should always have a say when prioritizing budget items. There are a number of avenues to do this. There are a number of budget presentations each year, along with open forums at board meetings and a public hearing on the budget.