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Candidates vie for Watkins, Odessa school board seats

SCHUYLER COUNTY—Both Watkins Glen and Odessa-Montour school boards have positions that will be filled at the May 19 vote.  Following are profiles for candidates.  Some information was edited for length.


Watkins Glen

Voting for the Watkins Glen school board candidates will take place in the district office lobby at the Watkins Glen High School, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., Saturday, May 19.  There are three candidates for two seats.


Joe Palumbo listed five issues he feels are most important:

1. Academic excellence; continue to support and build on the diverse programs and opportunities that we offer our students. 

2. Excellence in sports and sportsmanship; We need responsible coaches who facilitate development and sportsmanship by all the members of their teams. 

3. School budget/taxes: Maintain our excellent programs while taking full advantage of our resources, and finding alternate resources of revenue. I support this year’s budget. We can do more.

4. We need to improve communications between the community and the school board in regards to their agenda and the decision making processes they use. This is an area the board has repeatedly failed at. 

5. Leadership; the school board is in a unique position to help guide our schools and community towards positive change and growth, providing our students the tools to succeed in an uncertain future.


Robert J. Dill, incumbent, listed four issues he feels are most important:

1. Continued improvement in education is a  never-ending process.  I feel we must always look for new ideas and methods, stay current with new technology and strive to improve existing programs.

2. Due to the current financial position of New York state, the next two years will be critical with respect to the fiscal management of our district.

3. I will continue to look for innovative ways our district can share services that will allow us to operate efficiently and eliminate duplication of effort.

4. With more focus now on healthy diets and exercise, I will continue to encourage the improvement of cafeteria and vending machine healthy choice offerings.


Michael Dominic Myers, incumbent, listed four issues he feels are most important:

1. The economy.  Over the past six years, the Board has met the challenge of keeping our tax rate among the lowest in the area without sacrificing services.  As one would expect, the recent economic meltdown has proved the biggest challenge yet.

 2. NCLB (No Child Left Behind).  Federal testing standards are good as long as they complement local and state standards, and as long as they are funded.  Unfortunately, this has not been the case with the NCLB Act.

 3. Communications.  This is a perennial problem; how does the board make sure to communicate enough with the public?  More letters and notices could be sent to the residents of the District, but this would cost thousands of dollars. 

4. Expanding facilities use.  The Watkins Glen School District has a wonderful athletic facility that is heavily used, but it could be used more efficiently.  There is a challenge here in that the primary purpose of the facility is for instruction.

5. Technology.  The recent purchase of the Promethean Boards marks a sea change of technology use in our schools.    I hope to continue to rollout of Pro Boards - when financially feasible.



Voting for the Odessa-Montour school district will now only take place at the H.A. Hanlon Elementary School, room 12, noon to 8 p.m.  There are four positions open, with seven candidates.  


Scott McCray listed four issues he felt were important.

1. When the budgets come to the table, I will be asking questions about every line item that is present. 

2. I am interested in some of the policies that have been set in place with the district, especially concerning home schooled children and the policies that don’t allow them to participate in extracurricular activities in the school district.

3. There has been talk of mergers of school districts based on the governor’s budget cuts.  Although I think this is probably not going to become an issue, it is something that I would not support in any way.

4. I know that the Odessa-Montour school district has made great strides over the past few years in state testing results, but I think there is still much room for improvement.


Philip B. Pitcher listed the five issues he felt were important.

1. Smaller schools being forced to combine into a large district: to make people aware that almost always large institutions seek to benefit themselves and become self-serving.

2. More emphasis would be given to each student to prepare for a practical education which would help in every day living and how to accomplish personal goals.

3. Students going on with further education will hopefully be better prepared with skills to help them with successful study habits.

4. The schools depend too much on state government spending.  We must return to more community efforts and less government.

5. Respect with authority.  Board members, administration, teachers and bus drivers must teach with respect and live a life that is honorable, worthy of respect.


Debra Harrington, incumbent, listed the three issues she felt were important.

1.  Budget.  The expected zero percent increase in state aid for the next two years will require diligent and watchful eyes on the program, administration and capital areas of the budget.

2. Administrative transitions.  With two new principals, one at B.C. Cate and the other at the MS/HS, the board will make appropriate recommendations to the superintendent.

3.  Technology.  With the amount of technology throughout the district, the board of education will continue to provide staff development and new training opportunities to all students.


Don Roberts Jr. listed the five issues he felt were important.

1. To promote the safety and academic future of the children in this district by enhancing technology-based learning.

2. Improve test scores and the graduation dropout rate.

3. Budget reform prioritizing fiscal responsibility.

4. Maintain board agendas in a positive constructive manner.


Karen Rock, incumbent, listed the three issues she felt were important.

1.  Student success is the number one issue for a school board member.  I will support the faculty, staff and administration as they work to continue improving student achievement.

2. Another important issue is the following year will be the proposed zero increase in state aid.  I will carefully consider all expenditures and try to help develop a budget that will serve our students and not be a burden to our taxpayers.

3.  Our school district will soon be in the implementation phase of our Excel project.  As a board of education member, I will continue to monitor this project.


Matt Walters listed the five issues he felt were important.

1. Cuts in state funding.  The district will face a cut in state funding which we rely heavily upon.  If elected I plan to ensure that these funding cuts have as little an impact as possible on our children’s learning.

2. The concern over layoffs and job cuts.  If a position does need to be cut, I will work to make sure that employee is handled the way I would want to be handled.

3.  Low graduation rates.  We need to do better in this area.  For some students college is not an option.  We need to identify these children as early as possible and get them involved in something they are good at and enjoy.

4. Adding more technology based learning.  It is my belief that this is the future of learning in our schools.

5.  Early guidance.  Out students need to be informed about what opportunities are available to them.  Selecting a college that fits a student can take time, there is no “one size fits all.”


The final candidate, Paul LaRow, did not return the candidate profile form or phone calls by press time.


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