Meet the BOE Candidates

On Wednesday evening, May 15, the Lisbon Central School Student Council members held a Meet the Candidates event for the upcoming Lisbon Board of Education election. The race for Board of Education membership features Jennifer Gray, Nancy Addison, Angela McLear, Nicole LaPage, James (Larry) Doyle, John McBath and Becky Buckingham in ballot order.

 

The event was open to the public. It was a great opportunity for the candidates to voice their opinions, and for the students to be involved in a hands-on democratic process.

 

Questions were prepared and presented by Student Council members, and were asked by random selection to prevent foreknowledge. The students were responsible for recording candidates’ answers.

Below is a summarized version of their responses:

Jennifer Gray
What particular experiences or skills have prepared you to serve as a board member?

Jennifer has experience as a Middle School English teacher with over 16 years of experience in public education. This has allowed her to serve on several professional leadership committees and to attend NYSUT Lobbying Days in Albany advocating for educational funding in St. Lawrence County. As a veteran teacher she offers a unique perspective on the workings of a school district; which allows her to weigh the situations with experience from both sides of the aisle and make decisions that would prove best for the students, school and community.

What do you think about the current and the proposed budget?

Although the budget is below the tax cap it also calls for eliminating positions. Jennifer believes when positions are eliminated it can cause additional work and stress on the staff as well as the students. Losing a physical education teacher will most definitely increase class sizes in which she has numerous concerns about, particularly the supervision and safety of our children. Also, eliminating 1.5 custodian positions will inadvertently have an negative impact on the learning in our building as well.  She understands the need to keep our budget below the tax cap of 4.92%, but doesn’t like the idea of adding capital projects while cutting positions. While she can see the benefits of the multifunctional learning lab and the relocation of the band/chorus rooms at this point they seem frivolous when we don’t have the money in our budget to maintain our current staff.


How does a school board balance the need to provide a quality education with the need to respond to the local taxpayer burden?

Jennifer believes the board needs to remain cognizant of the poverty level in our district.  This is a delicate balance, but necessary in our district. Educational programs need to be our focus, and we need to explore and “think outside the box” to look for ways to be fiscally responsible while providing the best education possible for all students.

What issues do you believe our district needs to address in its academic program and offerings? What changes would you recommend?

Jennifer stated that she doesn't have any major concerns regarding the academic programs and offerings other than she is not sure every student is aware of the opportunities or able to afford the ones that are offered.

If elected, how do you plan to improve our facilities/building in the next 5 years?


Jennifer would like to see us prioritize improvements. Safe windows in elementary classrooms, chipping floors, bathrooms, etc, should be a priority.  There are many items in the capital project which may save money in the long term, but at this time our district is not fiscally in a position to make unnecessary upgrades.



Nancy Addison
What particular experiences or skills have prepared you to serve as a board member?


Nancy has served three prior terms on the Board of Education. During those terms she has served on a number of different school district advisory boards and as well as serving as Vice President of the Lisbon Board of Education during the last term. Nancy is executive director of the Canton Day Care Center. She is a good listener, keeps things professional and wants what is best for the students.

What is your vision for education in this community?

Nancy’s goal for education is to make all students feel safe and make them all feel involved. She wants all students to be connected. She wants to involve the community more educationally and in the lives of the students.

What do you think about the current and the proposed budget?

Nancy stated that she thinks the proposed budget will have a positive impact. She is in favor of the idea of a new fitness center and thinks it will benefit the students and the community. Nancy priorities health in her personal life and understands the need to promote fitness.

How does a school board balance the need to provide a quality education with the need to respond to the local taxpayer burden?

Nancy addressed how the board does not like to cut programs and wants the best education for our students. She would like to keep the budget as low as possible without putting the students education in jeopardy. If the community has concerns about the budget, the board will address them.

What issues do you believe our district needs to address in its academic program and offerings? What changes would you recommend?

Nancy wants to see more Advanced Placement or college courses offered that meet every students’ needs, not just those students who are able to afford the cost that comes with them.  She believes that we need more quality training and resources for our teachers.

If elected, how do you plan to improve our facilities/building in the next 5 years?


Because they go above and beyond, Nancy wants more support for our maintenance staff. She recognizes that it is very costly to maintain our facility but it is necessary. She believes in using capital projects to help improve our facility and including the community in the board’s plans.

Angela McLear
What particular experiences or skills have prepared you to serve as a board member?

Angela has spent five years working with St. Lawrence-Lewis BOCES program. She is constantly in contact with multiple other schools and believes she can strengthen Lisbon by implementing their ideas into our programs. Angela has also been part of the Lisbon Town Recreation for twelve years and knows many students personally.  She associates with kids of all ages outside of school through the Town Recreation community.


What is your vision for education in this community?


The support that is given to our school by the community is ever growing.  Friends-and-Family school lunches are happening more frequently and parking is scarce during school assemblies.  More merger sports have recently been added, involving students with other school communities as well. The school needs to keep parents involved and to keep planning for future growth in the community’s interest.


What do you think about the current and proposed budget?

Angela stated that school budgets are a standard that is important for school safety, as well as making beneficial additions to the school. The new windows that will be installed are a necessity for student safety. The proposed fitness center would care to the needs of student interests, such as those who play sports or take conditioning classes. The fitness center will also be open to the community.  Overall, she gives support the school budget.


How does a school board balance the need to provide a quality education with the need to respond to the local tax burden?


Angela believes the money that is spent each year to improve the school and provide a quality education should not be seen as a tax burden, but rather as community investment. Students who receive a high quality education and see as much opportunity as possible are more likely to be successful.  She hopes they return and benefit the community, and pay taxes to even further improve our education program. Money spent towards great education will recycle back into the community.


What issues do you believe our district needs to address in its academic program and offerings? What changes would you make?


Angela addressed Lisbon’s need to boost interest in hands on learning with classes such as workshop and home/careers where important life skills are learned. These classes are losing validity because of new technology.  There has been too much effort towards having chromebooks in every classroom; more focus should be pushed towards student interactions. More energy should be used towards these aspects of education.


If elected, how do you plan to improve our facilities/building over the next five years?


The changes to our school that are seen in the budget are mainly influenced by the school administration.  The capital project was generated by the administration, and they notify us about anything that should be added to the school. Angela believes a very good job is done of keeping an atmosphere that is comfortable for students to learn, and she trusts that they will propose new ways to improve the building physically and what goes on inside the school.


Nicole LaPage
What particular experiences or skills have prepared you to serve as a board member?

Nicole is a graduate of Lisbon Central School and has been a high school counselor for twenty years.  She and her husband have twins in 5th grade. Her children are very different from each other, academically speaking.  Academics come very easily to one of her children, and for the other one, it is much more of a struggle. Because of this, Nicole prides herself on having a deep understanding of the needs of all children, not just those for whom school comes naturally.  She also expresses a deep sense of obligation and responsibility to the people of this community. Students here are the children of her friends and the friends of her children. She feels deeply beholden to the people of this community to make sound decisions for all involved.

What is your vision for education in this community?


Nicole addressed a “community schools” model, meaning that the school is truly the “hub” of the community.  She envisions school buildings to be open in the evening for parents to take night classes to work on their degrees.  Community schools bring dental, medical and mental health clinics to the school buildings to serve students who may be uninsured, lack access to transportation, or may miss important teaching and learning time in order to get to those appointments. Nicole says that community schools remove barriers for students in poverty, but all students, parents, grandparents, families, community businesses, and public services benefit from partnership in a community school model.  Nicole says that a significant body of research supports the fact that this model improves academic achievement, school climate, and overall health and wellness. She is very excited that LCS is exploring the model. If elected to the Board, she is enthusiastic to support this work and move it forward.

What do you think about the current and the proposed budget?

Nicole believes that, despite some difficult aspects of the budget such as an increase in spending, the budget is, overall, a relatively responsible one that was created with the right priorities and values in mind.  She feels that school boards should generally always work to minimize any negative impact on instruction for students as a first priority. Whenever possible, it is important that budgets preserve quality teaching, materials, and safe and adequate facilities.


How does a school board balance the need to provide a quality education with the need to respond to the local taxpayer burden?


Nicole believes that a budget is, ultimately, an investment not just in education, but in the community itself. The key to finding this balance is to help everyone in the community find worth and value for their investment.  Essentially, if we use our buildings, facilities, and resources in a community schools model where everyone, young or old, can benefit in a multitude of ways from the high quality and relevant programming we offer, we will earn buy-in and community support for our budget because the expenses are recognized as worthwhile and beneficial for all stakeholder groups.

What issues do you believe our district needs to address in this academic program and offerings? What changes would you recommend?

Nicole believes that experiential education is critically important for students academic and career development.  While it is important for students to have access to a variety of electives and coursework for college credit, it is also imperative that students have access to internships, job shadowing experiences, Career & Technical Education (CTE) programs, and other opportunities to experience the world of work in action. We must give our students chances to explore workplaces to determine whether or not the careers they’re interested are truly good fits for them. It is unrealistic to expect graduates to be ready for post-secondary opportunities if they have not had these types of experiences while still in high school.  Nicole states that she believes experiential education to be the next frontier in education, and it is incumbent on school districts to lead the way and pioneer the development of these experiences for our students.

How do you plan to improve our facilities/building in the next 5 years?

Nicole states that she is unsure about improving the physical space in the next 5 years because she has not been privy to the architect’s assessments and facility studies.  She would need to learn these things if elected to the board. On the other hand, she is deeply committed to the consideration of school climate as a “building improvement”.  She feels that the school climate survey that was recently completed should become a guiding principle for the work of the school board. Nicole is deeply committed to the idea that that students learn best when they feel respected, they feel supported, they are treated well, and they feel safe.  This is a basic condition for learning. Equally important is the idea that faculty and support staff are most effective when they feel the same way. Relationships among adults and relationships between adults and students are the most basic foundation of learning. Nicole says that the school board is charged with doing all that it can do promote positive school climate for every single person who is involved with our district.


James (Larry) Doyle
What particular experiences or skills have prepared you to serve as a board member?

Larry Doyle mentioned his father brought about his passion for education, which he wants to bring to the school board. His top priority is to make sure that every child gets what they need, and as a member of the school board for the past 15 years, has done this to the best of his ability. Because he is retired Psychiatric Social Worker, Larry has ample time to be available wherever needed.

What is your vision for education in this community?

Larry addressed the school as the center of the community. He believes the school should look to provide what is scarcely found around here, such as mental health clinics and doctors offices. A school district should provide as much to the community as possible.

What do you think about the current and the proposed budget?

Larry stated that the budget provides the ability to obtain the best programming for the students. He says that it is a reasonable tax that thinks about the taxpayers and how to get the programming. He believes it it a fiscally responsible budget.  

How does a school board balance the need to provide a quality education with the need to respond to the local taxpayer burden?

Larry believes the budget has been well thought of and a great deal of work is put into planning it. The budget does not only provide what benefits the kids but also what benefits the community.

What issues do you believe our district needs to address in its academic program and offerings? What changes would you recommend?

Larry wants the school to keep up with current technology and learning styles. He wants to have a student-to-chromebook ratio to be one-to-one. He believes the school should try to get the most of what they can to benefit the kids and the community.

If elected, how do you plan to improve our facilities/building in the next 5 years?


Larry stated that the capital project, making the school a safer environment, and making sure everything functions properly will improve the school physically. Making sure people want to attend and want to learn will improve the climate of the school. It is important to him that we keep the positives aspects that will benefit the school.


John McBath
What particular experiences or skills have prepared you to serve as a board member?

John McBath is very passionate about Lisbon Central School and has been coaching here since 1997. He wants what is best for the students because he understands they are the future. John works for the New York State Department of Corrections as a Master Instructor-- he loves to teach and show people how to do things. He is very passionate about education.

What is your vision for education in this community?

John stated that the school is the center of the community and it is the board’s responsibility to provide a nurturing setting for the students. John wants to give back to the community and provide education for all. He also believes that the community needs to continue to move forward and grow to give the kids the ability to move forward as well.

What do you think about the current and the proposed budget?


John believes that the proposed budget is positive. It gives the students opportunities to better themselves while also being responsible for the community.

How does a school board balance the need to provide a quality education with the need to respond to the local taxpayer burden?

It is of utmost importance that the board take the needs of the students into consideration first. As long as the board is responsible with their decisions there should not be any backlash or criticism.

What issues do you believe our district needs to address in its academic program and offerings? What changes would you recommend?

John stated that the toughest job is to maintain curriculum because of the need to keep up with technology. The board needs to set students up for success by providing as many Advanced Placement courses as possible to further education.

If elected, how do you plan to improve our facilities/building in the next 5 years?


John expressed that Lisbon must keep the employees happy so they can produce a desire to be at school and in turn create a comfortable environment. He believes the main cost will be to upkeep the building. The school must continue to replace things so Lisbon will be a positive atmosphere for children to come and learn and employees to come to and work.



Becky Buckingham
What particular experiences or skills have prepared you to serve as a board member?

Having worked as a teacher at Lisbon Central School, Becky’s background in education allows for her to have a unique perspective that people in the past boards have not had. She values education and wants the best for our students.

What is your vision for education in this community?

Becky believes the schools purpose should match the students needs and wants. Community schooling is something Becky is interested in developing in the near future. She would like to see the facility to come together.

What do you think about the current and the proposed budget?


The current and proposed budget fits under the tax cap. She would like to be on the board to help make the best possible experience for the students, such as keeping Advanced Placement classes and possibly expand the classes available for the students.

How does a school board balance the need to provide a quality education with the need to respond to the local taxpayer burden?

Becky would like to get the best possible results from the budget. She understands the building requires certain necessities in order to make the school functional, while also considering all of the costs for clubs, faculty, programs. She believes Lisbon should have a foundation and build upon that, and knows that the school board tries to come up with figures and make adjusts as seen fit.

What issues do you believe our district needs to address in its academic program and offerings? What changes would you recommend?

Becky stated that Lisbon Central School should find more hands on classes for the student and get lost course’s back, such as Home and Careers, that have been taught by the facility in previous years. She would like to see the school offer more life long skills the students can use for the longevity of their lives.

How do you plan to improve our facilities/building in the next 5 years?


The facility needs direct help in order to make the schools’ climate improve. Becky believes that in order to improve, the facilities committee needs to be more active within the building. She would like for all of the students, staff, and administration to be happy and in a healthy environment with unified relationships.