CAZENOVIA — This spring, three individuals are running for two seats on the Cazenovia Central School District Board of Education (BOE).
The seats up for election are currently held by Jennifer Parmalee and Kathy Hahn.
While Hahn will be vacating her position, Parmalee is seeking re-election. Also running for the school board are newcomers Jack Sessler and Judith Hight.
Each of the candidates responded to the following questions from the Cazenovia Republican:
- What is your background?
- Why are you running?
- What do you see as the most important issues facing the district and how would you address them?
Their responses (300-word limit) are printed below.
I serve as the Deputy Commissioner and Director of Community Services for the Onondaga County Department of Children and Family Services. Prior to this position, the Director of School Based Initiatives for the same Department and before that as the Director of Child and Youth Services with the Onondaga County Department of Mental Health. I have significant experience working with schools solving complex problems. I am passionate about education and supporting all students in the district. I have been working to address complex challenges in multiple school districts since 2008 and have a reputation as a national leader in the area of mental health and school collaboration.
I have dedicated my life to the education of young people in the most safe and supporting environments possible. My work is devoted to supporting the many school districts in Onondaga County in addressing the mental health crisis our youth are currently facing. I would like to offer that experience and passion to Cazenovia School district.
If elected, my approach will be to engage all stakeholders (teachers, parents, administrators, support staff, students, staff, board, etc.) in open and honest dialogue to ensure the best possible decisions.
The top three issues the district faces and how I would address them:
- I will support the effort of the district to achieve access to the highest quality curriculum and instruction for all children through advocacy, policy development and financial considerations through the budget process.
- I will support the implementation of the Strategic Plan through required advocacy, policy development and financial considerations through the budget process.
- I will work to ensure a healthy financial position given the decreased funding and additional mandates from the state.
I am a 2003 Graduate of Cazenovia. I moved back to raise my family in 2011 after graduating from Williams College in Massachusetts and living in Buffalo and Syracuse for four years. My wife and I have three children who will be in grades 5, 3 and K next year. I’ve served on and currently serve on several Boards locally including the Cazenovia Public Library, the Community Memorial Hospital Foundation, the Cazenovia Community Preschool (currently Secretary) and the Cazenovia Community Foundation (currently Treasurer). Professionally, I am a Senior Vice President and Lead Commercial Lender for Berkshire Bank in East Syracuse.
I am running to give back to a school that has done so much for me, my family and my community. I will help the school continue and expand its commitment to excellence. I will also help ensure that CSD continues to provide the highest quality education for our students and parents, a rewarding and meaningful workplace for our talented staff, and by doing that, provide great value for the taxpayers that I will represent.
We need to ensure that CSD has the ability and commitment to meet each student where they are. My wife and I chose to move back and raise our family here in part because of the incredible economic and social diversity our district has. I firmly believe that it is one of the biggest assets of our community. I also acknowledge that it drives a broad spectrum of needs for our student body and for our staff. Supporting the students that need the most help while also making sure that the academic high-achievers have the opportunity and instruction to reach their potential is the biggest challenge a school like ours faces. I will be a part in making sure that we continue to meet that.
Cazenovia Central School District Board of Education
The BOE is the official policy-making body of the school district. The board is composed of seven members who serve a three-year term of office without pay.
BOE meetings are generally held on the third Monday of each month in the Board Meeting Room in the District Office in the Middle School. Meeting dates are listed on the district website and on the school calendar.
For more information, visit cazenoviacsd.com/board-of-education.
Election and budget vote
The BOE election and annual school budget vote will be held on May 17, from 12 to 8 p.m. in the Middle School Auxiliary Gym.
The proposed 2022-2023 budget totals $34,372,000 and represents a 4.64 percent spending increase over 2021-22.
The 2022-23 tax levy is a 2.33 percent increase over the 2021-22 tax levy.
“In our budget, our cost-saving measures include energy performance contracts, shared services, cooperative purchasing through BOCES, and alignment of resources through our strategic plan,” said BOE President David Mehlbaum in the district’s budget newsletter. “In addition, the district has put forth a budget that does not exceed the tax levy [limit]. For example, the Cazenovia Central School District continues to boast one of the lowest tax rates in our area, with some of the highest performing schools. To keep taxes low, the district also plans to increase the amount of appropriated fund balance by $436,575. This increase will provide cost savings to taxpayers by keeping the levy down.”
According to the district, the proposed budget reduces positions to address declining enrollment but maintains all existing academic, fine arts, athletics, and extracurricular opportunities for students.
In addition to the BOE candidates and the budget, residents will also be asked to vote on two other propositions.
Proposition #2 authorizes the district to borrow the funds to purchase three 65-passenger replacement school buses at a total maximum cost of $347,883, which will be offset by transportation aid.
Proposition #3 authorizes the levy of a library tax to support the Cazenovia Public Library in the amount of $470,038.68 and the New Woodstock Free Library in the amount of $182,285 for a total of $652,323.68.
The district’s Spring 2022 Budget Review/Newsletter is available at cazenoviacsd.com.