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Eldred voters meet candidates

ELDRED, NY — Four candidates are vying for three seats on the Eldred school board, and just a few days away from the election, a smattering of interested individuals came to hear what they had to say. The forum was emceed by Beth Deyermond, a member of the Mackenzie Elementary PTA.

The four were asked to make opening remarks in a randomly assigned order. Speaking first was Joana Dutcher, who was appointed to fill a vacant position on the board in August 2018. Calling upon her 19 years of experience as a teacher and as one who had learning difficulties as a student, she stated her commitment to, among many concerns, student growth in academics, arts, extra-curricular and community involvement, and the need to build programs scaffolding off each other so that students build skills, including trade skills.

Up next was Stacey Kuhn, who was also appointed to fill a vacated seat in August 2018. With a background in retail, banking and finance, she would channel that knowledge and expertise to help the district progress toward fiscal success. She stressed making logical and responsible decisions to deliver the highest quality education, safest facilities and allow for fulfilling extra-curricular activities within a reasonable financial construct.

Dr. Richard Malenky, a retired scientist and educator, said that the district’s aim should be to provide as rich an array of experiences, critical thinking, hands-on skills and exposure to as many new ideas as possible to facilitate a rich, diverse education. He championed the idea of attracting and taking advantage of those with local expertise in the arts and sciences, and for businesses to volunteer to enrich the education experience.

Kristen Smith, along with the others, stressed the positive environment within the district and promised to approach the position with open ears, an open mind and an open heart. Said she, “Nothing great has ever happened going in reverse. Let’s work together to move forward.”

Questions posed to the candidates included naming their top three goals for the district; defining their role with the administration, faculty and public; how they would enhance transparency in the district, whether they would have the backbone to say “no” when necessary; and what their hope was for the district. 

To that last question, Smith responded that she wants everyone to be kind and get along. Malenky emphasized the importance of science education, independent thinking and a respect and love for the truth. Kuhn envisioned the district becoming a model of excellence and Dutcher foresaw an environment where students feel valued for the career they choose to go into.

Eligible voters will be able to cast their ballots to elect three candidates as members of the board of education to serve (1) a five-year term, (2) a three-year term and (3) a one-year term. The terms will be decided by the number of votes the successful candidate receives. The candidate with the most votes will serve the five-year term. 

Also on the ballot is the authorization of $17,196,500 in spending for the 2019-20 school year and $15,200 to fund the Sunshine Hall Free Library.

The vote will take place on May 21 at the Eldred Junior-SeniorHigh School between 11 a.m. and 9 p.m.


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