by Keith Fox
I wish to announce my intention to run for a third term on your Lew-Port School Board of Education.
Since I first ran for the Lewiston-Porter School Board in 2007, much of the turmoil that Lewiston-Porter was noted for has moderated. Some issues that needed to be addressed have finally been resolved.
Our current board of seven people has many talented individuals. Our board is functioning as it should be; I feel I have contributed to this. Looking at the next few years, there are some significant challenges that I feel I would be well suited to help in addressing. These include our struggles to maintain services with ever increasing state mandates and contractual burdens while minimizing tax increases; our ongoing extensive capital projects; our challenge of being so near to the Lake Ontario Ordnance Works site; and our need to replace retiring senior administrators.
Our district, like all around New York state, has faced many challenges beyond our local control. We have been faced with so many dictatorial mandates like the "Common Core" and limits to our spending that have cut into our ability to offer some courses. We have had to make some difficult decisions. As a senior citizen who prepared personal income taxes for lower income people, I know the difficult time seniors have meeting their school tax bill each year. I keep this in mind as we make our way through these tough choices.
Being retired allows me to go to meetings during the day with our bonding agents, our financial consultants, municipal solutions; architects, engineers, construction managers and contractors; along with various staff and teachers. The technology of today is far advanced from what it was in 2007, and is a constant challenge too.
Our current board is working to update our financial operations after the retirement of our longtime business manager and is actively advertising for his replacement. We are updating our state approved computerized accounting system. We also have an impressive staff that is constantly working to improve our education system. I have had the opportunity to spend the time to get to know not only students and staff, but also the nuts and bolts of the facility - from heating and ventilation to grounds maintenance.
I have a strong interest in the environmental health of our students and staff. Our proximity to the LOOW site is a constant cause for concern. I sit on the steering committee of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Lake Ontario Ordnance Works Advisory Board. I am the only school board member who has the time to devote to this concern.
I was the only board member to actively meet with the architects and construction contractors during the middle and later stages of the last major construction project. I have been active in the recent five-year building condition study that was completed in 2011 and is the basis of the current $26 million project that you have approved. It will go out for bids soon. Again, these are mostly meetings that must take place during the day.
In the next few years, we will be hiring a new superintendent. I believe that my experience in the past - as a veteran of the Korean War, a teacher, the vice president of a construction company and a registered Representative of Sun America Securities - will continue to serve the school district well. Currently beside the school board, I am an elder in my church, a longtime member of the Town of Lewiston Environmental Commission, a member of the 1-3 Luncheon Club, and Masonic Lodge 875.
I hope to earn the community's support in our election in May, to continue to contribute to making Lew-Port a school system one that people can continue to be proud of.
On a side note, currently the Lew-Port School Board is meeting weekly to prepare a budget for next year. I hope that you will come out May 20 to vote "yes" for this budget and to vote to support my next term on the board.