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The Telegram
  • 21 candidates vying for Ilion-Mohawk school board

  • With 21 candidates running for the new Ilion-Mohawk Central School District Board of Education, voters have their choice from candidates with a variety of backgrounds and experiences.

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  • With 21 candidates running for the new Ilion-Mohawk Central School District Board of Education, voters have their choice from candidates with a variety of backgrounds and experiences.
    Board candidates were welcomed to submit profile information to Herkimer-Fulton-Hamilton-Otsego BOCES in order to get the information out to the public. The candidates’ information and their responses to two questions are listed below.
    The Board of Education election will take place from noon to 8 p.m. on Wednesday at Ilion Junior-Senior High School. Absentee ballots are available at the Mohawk and Ilion district offices.
    The candidates receiving the greatest number of votes will serve the longest terms. Three board members will serve for three-year terms expiring June 30, 2016; two members will serve for two-year terms expiring June 30, 2015; and two members will serve one-year terms expiring June 30, 2014.
    Here is a look at the candidates – listed in the order they were randomly selected to appear on the ballot:
    Jeffrey Sperl
    Residence: Mohawk
    Family: Married to Sara (VanWormer) for 10 years. Two children: Daughter, Jordan, is in third grade, and son, Nathan, is in second grade.
    Education and employment experience: Graduated from Mohawk in 1991. Received an associate degree in criminal justice from Herkimer County Community College. Attended SUNY Brockport from 1994-1995. Served nine years in the New York state Army National Guard, earning the rank of sergeant. Employed with Fiberdyne Labs since 1995 – currently serving as the contract administrator and managing shipping/receiving and inventory.
    Organizational affiliations or other relevant experience: Coach of his children’s American Youth Soccer Organization teams for the past five years. Member of the Herkimer Elks. Member of the Mohawk Board of Education and the School Board Institute Committee.
    Question 1: Why are you interested in becoming a Board of Education member of the Ilion-Mohawk Central School District and what do you believe prepares you to undertake this responsibility?
    Answer 1: My interest in becoming a Board of Education member of the Ilion-Mohawk Central School District stems from the desire to ensure that this new district is able to provide the highest quality education in a fiscally responsible manner for all children.
    After I was elected to the Mohawk Board of Education in July 2012, I completed trainings that include fiscal oversight, as well as the required six hours of new school board training mandated by the New York State Education Department. I have also participated in several board workshops and have met with area legislators and policy makers in regards to current state regulations, curriculum requirements and state aid equity issues. I would like to take the knowledge and experience I have gained and apply it to the Ilion-Mohawk Board of Education for the benefit of all.
    Question 2: What are the most important issues you believe face the Board of Education of the newly formed Ilion-Mohawk Central School District?
    Page 2 of 17 - Answer 2: This new District was voted for by the people to give their children the best possible and fiscally sound education that we could provide. There will be many important issues that the new board will face. The board will need to ensure that the district policies encompass the beliefs and values of both villages as well as keep our children safe. There will be issues regarding transitioning both teachers and students whom are going to be displaced from the closing of Remington Elementary, as well as those with special needs, to feel comfortable in a new environment. This new board will need to map out a new road map of our children’s educational needs. There will be a need to create new courses and activities that will certainly raise financial questions about how to deliver this in a fiscally responsible manner. This new district will be faced with multiple decisions about how to provide our children the tools needed to keep up with advancing technology and be prepared to succeed in the future.
    William Lennox
    Residence: Ilion
    Education and employment experience: Graduated from Ilion and graduated from the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy in Boston with a Bachelor of Science degree. Was a partner and pharmacist in Lennox Bros. Pharmacy for 36 years and a partner in the Lennox/Day Construction Co. for 22 years.
    Organizational affiliations or other relevant experience: Former board member of the Mohawk Valley YMCA, past president of the Ilion Central School Foundation, past president for the American Youth Soccer Organization, coached AYSO teams, coached weightlifting at Ilion for 13 years, past president of the Ilion Community Club, member of the Ilion Elks and member of the MV Firebirds flying club.
    Question 1: Why are you interested in becoming a Board of Education member of the Ilion-Mohawk Central School District and what do you believe prepares you to undertake this responsibility?
    Answer 1: I decided to run for the Board of Education after attending most of the merger meetings and being chairman of the Board of Canvass. I felt that I still wanted to be part of the process. It is a very exciting time for the valley. I have a strong business background, which is essential for being fiscally responsible. Over the years, I have hired many high-school students and have seen a decline in the basics skills they possess. I would like to be involved in improving their education to meet the demands of the business world.
    Question 2: What are the most important issues you believe face the Board of Education of the newly formed Ilion-Mohawk Central School District?
    Answer 2: The most important issues for me are: Fiscal responsibility; improving discipline and respect; improving graduation rates by offering more tech and vocational classes, classes to improve young women’s self esteem and life study courses; expanding the music and art programs; expanding the advanced placement courses (very important in college applications); and using student hall monitors and student mentors to help stop bullying.
    Page 3 of 17 - M. Bridget McKinley
    Residence: Ilion
    Family: Married to Kevin McKinley. Two children: Marc and Erin McKinley.
    Education and employment experience: Registered nurse from Crouse-Irving Memorial Hospital, BSN from SUNY IT, major in nursing MSN from SUNY IT, ANCC - certified ddult and family nurse practitioner for 16 years, health care provider for 31 years. Experience as an adjunct professor at Utica College and SUNY IT. Employed at SUNY Oneonta providing primary care to Students at the College Health Center. Past employment in urgent care/emergency care, primary care, occupational health, rheumatology and education.
    Organizational affiliations or other relevant experience: Member of the Herkimer County Democratic Committee and the Diabetes Performance Team with Faxton-St. Luke’s Heath Care. Volunteer at Herkimer Humane Society, American Red Cross, Relay for Life, Great American Irish Festival and Boilermaker Road Race. Active Participant in America’s Greatest Heart Run and Walk, Sitrin Stars and Stripes Walk; Race for a Cure and Wiggle-Waggle Walk a Thon.
    Question 1: Why are you interested in becoming a Board of Education member of the Ilion-Mohawk Central School District and what do you believe prepares you to undertake this responsibility?
    Answer 1: I am interested in becoming a board member because I feel I can bring enthusiasm and new ideas to this new school and merger. Having lived in Ilion for most of my life, I have seen the school go through many changes. I am a graduate of Ilion, as are my two children. Over the past several years, I have watched as the surrounding valley schools have struggled as they faced the financial crisis that has plagued both the state of New York and our country. Our schools have endured drastic cuts in state funding, while the burden of that shortfall has been placed on the taxpayers. I am confident that I can be a valuable part of a team effort to develop sound strategies regarding the funding that will be made available as a result of this merger – with the end result being an even brighter future for our children.
    Question 2: What are the most important issues you believe face the Board of Education of the newly formed Ilion-Mohawk Central School District?
    Answer 2: Over the course of the first several years, there will be a sharp learning curve for everyone involved – Board of Education, administration and teachers – but mostly the students. That being the case, I do think, however, that the merger should be seen as an opportunity to bring back the hope and faith of the community in public education. I have heard from many parents in our community that they have lost trust and faith in public education. This ought to be a priority with the goal of making people proud of their schools again and encouraging them to be active in and support school activities. It takes a community to raise a child, and bringing back the public trust in our education system and working together as a team is critical for this merger to succeed and is in the best interest of our children.
    Page 4 of 17 - James Vitale
    Residence: Ilion
    Family: Wife, Kimberly. Four daughters.
    Education and employment experience: Master’s degree from Syracuse University. BFA degree from University at Buffalo. AAS degree from Mohawk Valley Community College. Leadership Institute, ILR School Cornell University. National Special Leadership Conference. Employed as a professor at MVCC.
    Organizational affiliations or other relevant experience: Academic Program Review Committee at MVCC. Chair of the Learning Communities Design Team at MVCC. Serves on the Visual Communications Craft Committee for Herkimer-Fulton-Hamilton-Otsego BOCES. Past member of the Ilion Central School District Foundation. Assistant coach for MVCC women’s soccer team. Coliseum Soccer Club girls coach and trainer. Ilion American Youth Soccer Organization coach. National Coaches Soccer Association of America level five diploma.
    Question 1: Why are you interested in becoming a Board of Education member of the Ilion-Mohawk Central School District and what do you believe prepares you to undertake this responsibility?
    Answer 1: In 2009, I was elected to the Ilion Central School District’s Board of Education. I have served to promote student success and academic excellence while remaining fiscally responsible.
    As a college professor, I am able to see what tools are necessary for success after high school, especially for those students who intend to further their education. I consider the acquisition of these skills an important goal even for those students who may not be planning to attend college immediately after they graduate from high school.
    Question 2: What are the most important issues you believe face the Board of Education of the newly formed Ilion-Mohawk Central School District?
    Answer 2: The new board and newly formed district will face many hurdles and may experience growing pains. A focus of the board is to maintain and create opportunity for all students while managing limited resources.
    As we come together as one district, the new board must support an alignment of goals. We must lead by example and demonstrate respect for all students, teachers, staff, administrators and community members. We have a great opportunity to accentuate the best features from both Mohawk and Ilion, while making improvements in areas where necessary. This will allow us to emerge as a “super school,” providing the best for our students and bringing our communities together.
    This is an exciting time for all stakeholders. Every decision must reflect unity among communities as we prepare to transition. The board members will need to keep the focus on the great benefits this merger will provide. Board members serve at the pleasure of the voters. The voters recognize the value in combining districts, and it will be the responsibility of the new board to ensure that the voters’ agenda is executed as efficiently and effectively as possible.
    Matthew Shedd
    Residence: Ilion
    Page 5 of 17 - Family: Married for 15 years with three children ranging in age from 5 to 13.
    Education and employment experience: Has worked in the insurance industry for 18 years. Currently a corporate officer for a local insurance company. Has served in various capacities including employee management, corporate portfolio management, finance, cash management, policy and claims administration, purchasing and managing corporate banking relationships. Bachelor of Science degree in accounting from SUNY IT and an AAS degree in accounting from Herkimer County Community College.
    Organizational affiliations or other relevant experience: Former Mohawk Central School District PTO treasurer and audit committee member. Coach for girls ASA softball, Mohawk Little League, and Mohawk Youth Basketball and served as an assistant American Youth Soccer Organization coach. Member of Annunciation Church in Ilion, serving various capacities including Parish Council, “Called to Be Church” Merger Committee and Marriage Prep Team. Member of Baileys Karate School in Herkimer.
    Question 1: Why are you interested in becoming a Board of Education member of the Ilion-Mohawk Central School District and what do you believe prepares you to undertake this responsibility?
    Answer 1: Ensuring a quality education and providing opportunities for all students of the new district motivates me to become a board member. Putting our children first will help us provide a brighter future for them. I will be instrumental in providing leadership for the new district. I am prepared to undertake this responsibility as I provide leadership on a corporate level every day. I ensure the efficient operation of each department under my direction. I provide cost effective solutions to problems and issues and operate within budget constraints to ensure appropriate allocation of resources from a staffing and operational standpoint. I take the time to understand how administrative processes work to make effective decisions that improve the quality of workflow for my employer. I will take the time to understand both sides of any issue and help establish a workable solution. I will put children first.
    Question 2: What are the most important issues you believe face the Board of Education of the newly formed Ilion-Mohawk Central School District?
    Answer 2: The newly formed district faces many challenges, but the largest issue surrounds establishing a sense of community among the students, parents and residents of both villages. This can only be achieved by remaining focused on what is important – focusing on our children and improving the education opportunities for them to succeed.
    The second challenge will surround balancing the wants and needs of the students, administration and staff given the constraints of the resources the newly formed district has available. Focusing on operating within those constraints will lead to the long term viability of the district.
    The third challenge will surround the allocation of staff to ensure all programs promised in the merger study can become a reality while meeting state guidelines.
    Page 6 of 17 - Jennifer Pedersen
    Residence: Ilion
    Family: Married, with five children.
    Education and employment experience: Served in the U.S. Air Force from 1996 to 2000. Had management responsibilities in the Air Force and has held other management positions since. Has attended seminars regarding special needs in all classroom settings. Has been a substitute teacher of all grade levels in the local schools for more than two years. Parent Member for CSE meetings since 2009.
    Organizational affiliations or other relevant experience: Treasurer of the S. Fifth Ave. Fundraising Committee in Ilion. Held a fundraiser in Russell Park for autism awareness in 2010.
    Question 1: Why are you interested in becoming a Board of Education member of the Ilion-Mohawk Central School District and what do you believe prepares you to undertake this responsibility?
    Answer 1: I’m interested because I want to serve and support the district as a team member. I have strong personal interests and experience in special education, but most importantly, I have children in the district and want to have a direct impact on their education. I volunteer as a parent member during CSE meetings to help advocate for families and their children. I am fortunate enough to work with many of our students as a substitute teacher and have developed a strong bond with them as well as a huge desire to give them what they deserve.
    Question 2: What are the most important issues you believe face the Board of Education of the newly formed Ilion-Mohawk Central School District?
    Answer 2: The important issues are making strategic choices for the well-being of the district, the ability to see the long-term implications of an action, encouraging the community’s trust in its school system and most importantly making the children’s future our only real agenda.
    Lori Sementilli
    Residence: Mohawk
    Family: Husband, Dave Sementilli, and son, Joel.
    Education and employment experience: Graduated from Mohawk in 1980. Graduated from Utica College in 1984 with a Bachelor of Arts in psychology and gerontology. Completed 18 hours towards a master’s degree in social work administration.
    Organizational affiliations or other relevant experience: Belongs to the New York State Probation Officer Association. Member of the VFW Auxiliary. Volunteer with the Herkimer County Humane Society. Certified pharmacy technician.
    Question 1: Why are you interested in becoming a Board of Education member of the Ilion-Mohawk Central School District and what do you believe prepares you to undertake this responsibility?
    Answer 1: Merging two districts is a major undertaking, and I believe that I have the knowledge and the skills to facilitate the transition with the students and staff. I have been on the Mohawk school board for 10 years, during which time I have chaired the Policy Committee and the Audit Committee. I have also sat on the Building and Grounds Committee and the Bus Garage Committee. I actively negotiated contracts for the administrators, teachers and non-teaching staff. I am knowledgeable in the areas of Civil Service law and union regulations. I was the board president for two terms and vice president for two terms.
    Page 7 of 17 - Question 2: What are the most important issues you believe face the Board of Education of the newly formed Ilion-Mohawk Central School District?
    Answer 2: The most important issues the newly formed district will face are remaining fiscally solvent, providing the maximum educational and extracurricular opportunities to the children and becoming a cohesive unit. Other major issues will be building and classroom configurations, contract negotiations and various other secondary issues.
    Stephen Coupe
    Residence: Ilion
    Family: Married to Kendra (Burdick) Coupe for 22 years. Children: Kayleigh Coupe and Courtney Coupe.
    Education and employment experience: Graduated from Ilion in 1984. Herkimer County Community College associate in applied science, business administration in 1988. SUNY IT Bachelor of Science in finance in 1992. Syracuse University Whitman School of Management MBA in strategic management in 1995. Has held various positions with the Carbone Auto Group dating back to 1985 – including assistant parts manager, administrator of central administrative operations, chief operating officer and general manager of Utica/Adirondack Harley Davidson.
    Organizational affiliations or other relevant experience: Ilion Board of Education member since 1997 and the current vice president. Member of the Herkimer-Fulton-Hamilton-Otsego BOCES Audit Committee. Served as chairman of the Oneida-Herkimer-Madison BOCES Occupational Education Advisory Board from 1994 to 1999. Mohark Valley Community College Foundation member since 1996, past vice president and current board treasurer and chairman of the Finance and Investment Committee. Member of Mohawk Valley Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors.
    Question 1: Why are you interested in becoming a Board of Education member of the Ilion-Mohawk Central School District and what do you believe prepares you to undertake this responsibility?
    Answer 1: I was first elected to the Ilion Board of Education in 1997 at age 30. I felt I was too young to run at the time but was encouraged to do so by the then-superintendent of schools who had observed my contributions on the original Ilion-Mohawk merger study a few years earlier. Fortunately, I was successful, and that decision to run has been one of the most rewarding decisions of my life.
    Fifteen years as a board member has certainly cured my feelings of being too young for the job. At the same time, it has also given me a thorough understanding of the complexities of education in today’s world and the challenges our young people face. My experience as a board member and my background in business and finance uniquely position me as a person who can help make sure the Ilion-Mohawk merger is done smoothly and done correctly.
    Question 2: What are the most important issues you believe face the Board of Education of the newly formed Ilion-Mohawk Central School District?
    Answer 2: The most important issue facing the new district is how to organize quickly and be ready for business when school opens in September 2013. It is critical that our students are able to attend school with as smooth a transition as possible.
    Page 8 of 17 - But achieving that objective only means we are as good as we used to be. That is a significant first step. But the second step is accepting the challenge of being as good as we are capable of being. One of the most important hallmarks of a good education is helping students find their place in this world and then preparing them for it. Every employee of our district needs to be focused on the task of preparing students for meaningful careers or for entrance to the college that will prepare them for those careers. Only after that goal is achieved can we move our sights elsewhere.
    Fred Schell
    Residence: Mohawk
    Family: Married to Anne Schell for more than 18 years. Two sons, ages 14 and 15.
    Education and employment experience: Owner of Better Homes & Transport lnc. Started the business from scratch and has helped almost 500 families into new homes. Graduated from Mohawk in 1985 and from Herkimer County Community College in 1987.
    Organizational affiliations or other relevant experience: Member of the Mohawk Audit Committee for the school district and the Mohawk Community Club, which supports youth in the community.
    Question 1: Why are you interested in becoming a Board of Education member of the Ilion-Mohawk Central School District and what do you believe prepares you to undertake this responsibility?
    Answer 1: My love and loyalty of our community and children are the main reasons l am interested in becoming a school board member. I became interested in a school board position once l heard discussions of the merger studies. My wife and I started attending board meetings to familiarize ourselves with all of the options that were put onto the table. Most of which we agreed with, but much of it we did not. I realized passion and emotion drove many people to the decisions on whether or not we should or should not merge. I feel my ability to look at things objectively, my willingness to understand multiple views and my experience meeting strict deadlines will be strong assets. I own and operate a successful business built on integrity and hard work ethic. These qualities will enable me to make fair and correct decisions needed at this critical time.
    Question 2: What are the most important issues you believe face the Board of Education of the newly formed Ilion-Mohawk Central School District?
    Answer 2: The important issues for the board to team with the administration on are: preparing classes to make sure no child gets lost in the transition and will be able to take full advantage of this new opportunity; child placement for the elementary schools; making sure we have the right teacher in place teaching the right classes; formulating a budget to keep the teachers that are so valuable to us; giving the children the best education, advanced placement classes, extracurricular activities and sports while planning, saving, reducing debt and preparing the district for the years ahead once the incentive aid runs out; transportation; safety and security; incorporating the policies of both schools along with new policies that will suit the best interest of the students; educating the students, teachers and parents of these new policies and procedure; and working with the transition teams to accomplish the team’s objectives.
    Page 9 of 17 - Daniel LaLonde
    Residence: Ilion
    Family: Married to the former Carole [Katovich] Binney, with three children.
    Education and employment experience: Graduated from Ilion in 1975. Received an accounting degree from Herkimer County Community College. Worked for several years as an assistant manager at the Ilion Big M. Hired as a professional firefighter/cardiac care technician with the Ilion Fire Department. In 1992, injured fighting a fire that ended his career.
    Organizational affiliations or other relevant experience: Member of the Association of Professional Police and Fire Retirees of Upstate New York. Member of the Knights of Columbus.
    Question 1: Why are you interested in becoming a Board of Education member of the Ilion-Mohawk Central School District and what do you believe prepares you to undertake this responsibility?
    Answer 1: The question of a merger came up about four years ago. I was president of the Ilion board, and we felt it was worth exploring. The Citizen Advisory Committee was selected and did a wonderful job investigating all the issues. The voters overwhelming accepted the proposition. Now, I want to see the merger through to fruition. This is a new beginning, with new traditions and most of all, better opportunities for all students.
    I feel that my 14 years on the Ilion board, currently the president, and serving nine years on the Herkimer-Fulton-Hamilton-Otsego BOCES board, currently the vice-president, has prepared me to handle any situation that might arise and to continue to help the board function properly.
    Question 2: What are the most important issues you believe face the Board of Education of the newly formed Ilion-Mohawk Central School District?
    Answer 2: The main two issues that face any board are finances and setting policy. State issues that plague the board are unfunded mandates. Federal issues that have surfaced are due to the sequestration. Federal funding cuts will cause major issues with special education. As long as the new board members don’t have any agenda, they can work together to solve any issue.
    Melissa Reed
    Residence: Ilion
    Family: Married to Shannon Reed since June 2006. One son, Cooper, 5. Brother, Zakk Zuranski, 17.
    Education and employment experience: Graduated from Mohawk and attended Herkimer County Community College for paralegal. After college, moved to Florida and worked at Disney World for a year. Returned to Mohawk, worked at the Wilber Wenner Insurance Agency and has worked in the insurance industry since. Currently employed at the Belfield Insurance Agency in Waterville and is a licensed insurance agent and a notary public.
    Organizational affiliations or other relevant experience: Volunteer at the Barringer Road Elementary School since her son started going there. Member of the Barringer Road PTO. Volunteer for the American Red Cross and the Salvation Army. Family has been members of the Ilion Elks Club for more than 70 years, starting with her late grandfather John B Morris.
    Page 10 of 17 - Question 1: Why are you interested in becoming a Board of Education member of the Ilion-Mohawk Central School District and what do you believe prepares you to undertake this responsibility?
    Answer 1: I am interested in becoming part of the school board to help build the framework for the district that my son and all the other area kids will depend on to be there and to be strong with every opportunity available to them. I was raised here, I attended the schools here and I live here with a child who will be in this district for many years to come. I have also lived in other areas and have seen what they are doing to provide the most for their students. I work in Waterville, which has a merged school district blending Waterville, Oriskany Falls and Deansboro kids into one central district in Waterville. They are providing a top notch education for all of the students with AP and special education classes.
    Question 2: What are the most important issues you believe face the Board of Education of the newly formed Ilion-Mohawk Central School District?
    Answer 2: I think that the new school board will need to work hard to create a blended district. They will need to manage the funds that the district is receiving to ensure that the district will be sustainable. We need to ensure that the kids truly benefit from this merger and are offered the courses that are going to make them well-educated and well-rounded as they are applying for colleges and going out into the world.
    Deborah Schoff
    Residence: Ilion
    Family: Husband, Richard, and two children who are 10 and 12 years old.
    Education and employment experience: Graduated from Ilion. BS/MS in education from Oneonta State University. Employed as a teacher in the Herkimer Central School District for 24 years.
    Organizational affiliations or other relevant experience: Little League volunteer and concession stand coordinator. American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life participant. Miles For Missy volunteer. PTA member/volunteer. Hunger Coalition Annual School Food Drive organizer. Interview committees for teachers and administrators. School crisis team leader. Knowledge and experience with APPR, state- funded and unfunded mandates. Contract negotiations team member. Knowledge of labor contracts and school budget process.
    Question 1: Why are you interested in becoming a Board of Education member of the Ilion-Mohawk Central School District and what do you believe prepares you to undertake this responsibility?
    Answer 1: Being a lifelong resident of Ilion, I have a vested interest in the success of all children. My experience in education gives me a well-rounded perspective that will assist when making decisions regarding how to support curriculum and instruction. Having the ability to think globally and consider what is in the best interest of students, staff and the communities prepares me to undertake this responsibility.
    Page 11 of 17 - Question 2: What are the most important issues you believe face the Board of Education of the newly formed Ilion-Mohawk Central School District?
    Answer 2: The Board of Education must work together to create both a short and long term financial plan that manages our funds wisely. This would include planned savings to prepare and maintain our school now, as well as in the future. We will need to create an integrated administration and faculty, which will maximize the resources of administration and staff and provide ample opportunities for our students to become career and college ready. The board will need to ensure a smooth transition, which includes merging contracts, district policies and procedures.
    Walt Roginski
    Residence: Mohawk
    Family: Married to Shar for 40 years. Four children: Jon, Steven, A.J. and Kristin.
    Education and employment experience: Earned his AAS from Herkimer County Community College in 1973. In the last 15 of his 37 years with the Otis Elevator company (retired in 2011), he was responsible for all aspects of the business including financial and field performance. Promoted to service quality engineer for Otis-North American Operations (including the United States and Canada). As an SQE, he was responsible for consulting on process and operational improvement, helping struggling offices meet their goals.
    Organizational affiliations or other relevant experience: His community involvement includes Boy Scouts Troop No. 26, Mohawk Little League and the Mohawk Board of Education (for 13 years, including president of the board for several years). I was honored to serve on the Mohawk Board of Education for 13 years (leaving due to time demands resulting from a promotion at Otis). Was board president in 1994, when the school burned, and the district turned to Ilion Central School District, which shared its facilities.
    Question 1: Why are you interested in becoming a Board of Education member of the Ilion-Mohawk Central School District and what do you believe prepares you to undertake this responsibility?
    Answer 1: I would like to see our district be financially sound and offer a superior academic experience for all our students. I believe our students must feel safe, secure and comfortable regardless of such factors as religion, race, sex or sexual orientation. Our students should also have opportunities for enrichment through a wide variety of responsibly executed extracurricular activities.
    Question 2: What are the most important issues you believe face the Board of Education of the newly formed Ilion-Mohawk Central School District?
    Answer 2: All of our children in this district deserve the opportunities that a merged district can offer. Our advanced students need the course structure that will allow them to excel in their continuing education. Our special needs students deserve all the services that enable them to be productive citizens. In addition, classes that teach life skills to young adults must be offered to all students, easing their transition into society.
    Page 12 of 17 - Hans Hendrick
    Residence: Mohawk
    Family: Wife: Tammy. Daughter: Chloe, 6. Son: Jesse, 18.
    Education and employment experience: Studied human services at Mohawk Valley Community College. Owner of Hendrick’s Demolition and Salvage.
    Organizational affiliations or other relevant experience: Volunteers at Ronald McDonald charities.
    Question 1: Why are you interested in becoming a Board of Education member of the Ilion-Mohawk Central School District and what do you believe prepares you to undertake this responsibility?
    Answer 1: As a parent of two Mohawk students, I wanted to be involved in the future of their educations. I am also interested in being involved with the newly established district to help lay the ground work for setting Ilion-Mohawk on a successful path for the betterment of both communities. I have been a self-employed business owner and entrepreneur for most of my life. It’s my belief the experience I have acquired and practical business sense will be a great asset to the newly formed board.
    Question 2: What are the most important issues you believe face the Board of Education of the newly formed Ilion-Mohawk Central School District?
    Answer 2: The most important issues are: ensuring that the newly merged school district will be able to remain viable and expand educational, athletic and arts programs to meet the demands of future students; properly appropriating incentive monies to retain and acquire qualified educators, administration and support staff; and setting fiscally responsible and realistic goals to fulfill the needs of the newly formed district.
    Robert Berger
    Residence: Ilion
    Family: Married for 28 years to Sharon, and they have no children.
    Education and employment experience: Graduated from Ilion in 1976. Graduated from Herkimer County Community College with an associate degree in psychology in 1984. Retired from the Navy in 2002 with 24 years of service. Currently employed as lead electrician at the F.X. Matt Brewing Co. and has been three for 21 years.
    Organizational affiliations or other relevant experience: Current president of the Ilion Winter Club. Former secretary treasurer of the Ilion Winter Club for 10 years. Former chief union steward at the F.X. Matt Brewing Co.
    Question 1: Why are you interested in becoming a Board of Education member of the Ilion-Mohawk Central School District and what do you believe prepares you to undertake this responsibility?
    Answer 1: With the formation of a new school district, I am interested in the challenge of developing a new administration. I believe that new people would give a different prospective on solving the problems of a new district. I believe I am prepared because of my experiences with balancing budgets, negotiating two union contracts and I have learned problem solving skills through my trade and my Navy experience.
    Question 2: What are the most important issues you believe face the Board of Education of the newly formed Ilion-Mohawk Central School District?
    Page 13 of 17 - Answer 2: The most important issues that the new school board will face are as follows: Ensure that every student is given the opportunity to achieve their potential and be prepared for the new challenges after graduation; be fiscally responsible, so in the long term the financial health of the district is secure; and have an inclusive process when merging the two school districts into one school district.
    Vicki Judd
    Residence: Mohawk
    Family: Married to James, for 10 years. Three children: Ava, 8; Deacon, 7; and Reese.
    Education and employment experience: Graduated from Ilion in 1988. Received an A.S. in communications in 1990 from Sage Jr. College of Albany and Bachelor of Science in communications and technical writing from RPI in 1992. Worked for Anderson Consulting, developed software for Dun & Bradstreet Software and developed policies and online training for a holding company, KeyCorp. Has worked at IBM since 1996 – currently managing multiple IBM resources, corporate budgets and project work plans. Is a cross-industry certified ERP project manager and IT services subject matter expert.
    Organizational affiliations or other relevant experience: Current Mohawk Board of Education member for two years. Fisher Elementary PTO member (vice president in 2009). Former Mohawk Community Advisory Committee member (four-school merger only). Race Coordinator and founder of Mohawk’s Turkey Trot for the past three years. American Youth Soccer Organization referee for Mohawk and current Mohawk AYSO coach. Mohawk Pop Warner Football communications liaison for two years. Mohawk Youth Sports One Call Now administrator for two years. Former youth softball coach for two seasons. Gram Lorraine & Uncle Franks Back to School program volunteer. Co-founder of The Ilion Project nonprofit. Fiscal responsibility for more than 22 years of various corporate project budgets.
    Question 1: Why are you interested in becoming a Board of Education member of the Ilion-Mohawk Central School District and what do you believe prepares you to undertake this responsibility?
    Answer 1: My interest lies in preparing our kids to do well in the world, no matter what they choose to be. I’m interested in utilizing staff, programs and curriculum to support all needs of our kids. To provide education for those needing more support to those needing more enhancements and in-between. I build fiscally responsible budgets and develop roadmaps/plans as my job. I’m willing to speak up in order to represent students, taxpayers, parents and staff, as well as bring as much transparency as legally possible. In addition to my drive and business experience, my time as a Board of Education member has provided me experience in unions, the importance of a solid administration, educational law, sensible policies that support our students, the New York State Department of Education system and the need for additional communications.
    Question 2: What are the most important issues you believe face the Board of Education of the newly formed Ilion-Mohawk Central School District?
    Page 14 of 17 - Answer 2: Many topics will be addressed by great transition committees with oversight from the Board of Education. In regards to issues, first we must have the right administrators. They make the everyday decisions and are the touch points for our community, parents, staff, Department of Education and most importantly our kids. Second, ensuring we are fiscally responsible with our budget. Third, policies that support our kids. Some can be leveraged but revisions are in order to support the newly merged district. New policies will be needed, such as: details around security, communication expectations for urgent situations and new situations based our new environment. And fourth, contract negotiations. We will do this right and in time be a success. We will be the district to teach in, to move to and to be the best support system for our families.
    Orlo Burch
    Residence: Ilion
    Family: Married to Julie for 14 years. Two children: Orlo N. Burch and Alyssa M. Burch.
    Education and employment experience: Attended Mohawk Valley Community College and Herkimer County Community College. Has worked for Steet-Ponte Ford Lincoln Mazda (formerly Ed Blask Ford) for the past 19 years.
    Organizational affiliations or other relevant experience: Has served on the Board of Commissioners for the Ilion Housing Authority for the past 11 years. Has coached in the Ilion Little League, Pop Warner football and Ilion youth basketball for the past few years. Helped with Boy Scouts.
    Question 1: Why are you interested in becoming a Board of Education member of the Ilion-Mohawk Central School District and what do you believe prepares you to undertake this responsibility?
    Answer 1: My interests are to see that the Board of Education can bring the best educational opportunities for all students. I would also like to see that the disbursement of funds is managed and controlled. As a board member of the Ilion Housing Authority since 2001, I have held the titles of president, vice president and treasurer. I have experience with working with limitations and guidelines set forth by the state and federal governments. I also have experience with collective bargaining negotiations.
    Question 2: What are the most important issues you believe face the Board of Education of the newly formed Ilion-Mohawk Central School District?
    Answer 2: One of the most important issues that the Board of Education will face is making sure the new Ilion-Mohawk Central School District will have all transitions set and in place prior to the start of the new school year – such as bus runs, teachers and administration. We must make sure that all transitions are as smooth as possible with such a short timeframe.
    Bonnie Coffin
    Residence: Ilion
    Family: Married to Bill Coffin Jr. Three children: Lindsay, Abby and Andrew Coffin.
    Education and employment experience: Graduated from Ilion in 1984. Associate degree in liberal arts from Mohawk Valley Community College and bachelor’s degree in sociology from SUNY Oneonta. Was a 22-year employee of the Herkimer County Department of Social Services. Accepted a position in 2012 with the New York State Unified Court System.
    Page 15 of 17 - Organizational affiliations or other relevant experience: Ilion Board of Education member for seven years. Participates in community activities and parent clubs. The Ilion and Mohawk football parents clubs have met and joined forces.
    Question 1: Why are you interested in becoming a Board of Education member of the Ilion-Mohawk Central School District and what do you believe prepares you to undertake this responsibility?
    Answer 1: I believe my Board of Education experience makes me a worthy candidate. I am very involved in board activities and attend as many functions outside of meetings as I can. I take advantage of many training seminars offered by the School Board Institute to stay informed and educated to the many needs of our district. I strive to offer the best educational experience for our children that we can provide.
    Question 2: What are the most important issues you believe face the Board of Education of the newly formed Ilion-Mohawk Central School District?
    Answer 2: Serving the needs of our children while being a good steward of the taxpayers’ money is and has been the biggest priority as a board member. This is an exciting time for our new district, and I look forward to being involved in this transition process regardless of the results of this election. I plan on being involved, and I have volunteered to be on the transition teams.
    A solid financial plan has to be developed first, along with a solid educational plan. Currently, both districts have excellent, forward-thinking employees whose input and opinions will be crucial to our transition to the strongest school district in our area.
    Thomas Goldin
    Residence: Ilion
    Family: Married to Diane for 33 years. Three children: Rebecca, Elaine and Gregory.
    Education and employment experience: Graduated from Ilion. Bachelor of Science degree in criminal justice from SUNY College at Buffalo. Currently employed at Remington Arms as the supervisor of security and firearms compliance.
    Organizational affiliations or other relevant experience: A 12-year member of the Ilion Board of Education. Member of the Board of Directors for the Herkimer County Chamber of Commerce. Member of the Ilion Community Club.
    Question 1: Why are you interested in becoming a Board of Education member of the Ilion-Mohawk Central School District and what do you believe prepares you to undertake this responsibility?
    Answer 1: As a member of the Ilion Board of Education, I have been supportive of the combined district and find myself increasingly anxious to see the fulfillment of this vision for the education of our children. My 12 years of experience as a board member has prepared me to undertake this responsibility. The time I have been on the board has allowed me to learn the workings of a school district. As a board member, I always have felt I have asked the appropriate questions for the community – fulfilling my role as a liaison to the district for the taxpayers.
    Page 16 of 17 - Question 2: What are the most important issues you believe face the Board of Education of the newly formed Ilion-Mohawk Central School District?
    Answer 2: First and foremost, we must achieve cohesiveness within the two communities. Clearly, not everyone was in favor of the venture to combine the two school districts. This presents a goal of the new board to work to unite all the students and their families of the new district to achieve a successful education experience. The school board members need to continue to be good stewards of the finances of the district for the taxpayers. Sound financial decisions will allow the district to achieve the best educational opportunities available for the students.
    The board must also allow the educational professionals to continue to challenge our children to achieve success. We are now on the threshold of new beginnings and opportunities for the new district. As a member of the new Board of Education, it’s important not to be satisfied until without question one can say I have done the very best for the students.
    Robert Bronner
    Residence: Mohawk
    Family: Married to Beth for 37 years. Three children: Kyleen, Janelle and Ryan.
    Education and employment experience: Graduated from Owen D. Young in 1971. Associate degree from Mohawk Valley Community College. Has worked for the Van Hornesville Co-op for 41 years as a truck driver and fleet manager for the family-run business.
    Organizational affiliations or other relevant experience: Member of the Mohawk Board of Education from 1993 until 2002.
    Question 1: Why are you interested in becoming a Board of Education member of the Ilion-Mohawk Central School District and what do you believe prepares you to undertake this responsibility?
    Answer 1: After considerable encouragement from friends and family, I decided I wanted to use the experience I have acquired as a nine year board member. During those nine years, the Jarvis fire occurred. With the help of the Ilion school district, we were able to continue to educate while recovering from the fire. Ilion residents proved their commitment to educating not just their students, but all students. I look forward to partnering with them to make this a smooth transition from two schools to one.
    Question 2: What are the most important issues you believe face the Board of Education of the newly formed Ilion-Mohawk Central School District?
    Answer 2: A. Develop a curriculum that serves the needs of every student at the Ilion-Mohawk Central School District. B. Efficient use of incentive money to protect against future state aid shortfalls. C. Develop an atmosphere of ownership for Mohawk and Ilion as equal partners in this new school district.
    Edward Jackson
    Residence: Ilion
    Family: Wife: Shelley. Five children: Andrew, Anthony, Sean, Erin and Cooper. Parents: Dick and Wendy Jackson.
    Page 17 of 17 - Education and employment experience: A.A.S. in mechanical engineering from Mohawk Valley Community College. Bachelor of Arts in organizational management from Ashford University. Vice president/operation manager at Revival Industries in Herkimer from 1998 to 2007. Has been an engineer at Remington Arms since 2007.
    Organizational affiliations or other relevant experience: At Revival Industries, managed daily operations of a 43-person, two-location manufacturing company. Also, directed all production and technical staff to include manufacturing and facilities engineering groups. At Remington Arms, has managed several projects relocating operations to the Ilion facility from sister companies – resulting in new jobs in Ilion.
    Question 1: Why are you interested in becoming a Board of Education member of the Ilion-Mohawk Central School District and what do you believe prepares you to undertake this responsibility?
    Answer 1: I am very excited about the challenges and opportunities that the newly merged Ilion-Mohawk Central School District has. I want to help ensure that the transition is a success and put into place a plan that promotes long term sustainability. My combination of education and experience provide me with an excellent skill set to help launch this fledgling district in a positive direction.
    Question 2: What are the most important issues you believe face the Board of Education of the newly formed Ilion-Mohawk Central School District?
    Answer 2: There are many topics that can be argued as the most important. Whether it is the teachers’ contract or placement, the school budget or what programs should or should not be offered, all of these decisions should be made with keeping the children’s needs in mind.
    We must be mindful that change, even for the betterment of all, comes with challenges and struggles. Not everything will go smoothly, and it is our responsibility as a school board that these challenges do not detract from the quality of education, care and opportunities that the kids receive.
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