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Grand Island Board of Education: 3 running for 2 board seats

Fri, May 13th 2016 09:15 pm

By Larry Austin

Island Dispatch Editor

Voters in the Grand Island Central School District will chose between three candidates for two seats on the Board of Education during the trustee election May 17.

Donna Tomkins

Tomkins is seeking her third term as a trustee of the Grand Island Board of Education.

Tomkins is a 1981 graduate of University of North Carolina-Wilmington. Her husband, JT, is a graduate of Grand Island High School, Class of 1974. They live on Bishops Gate Road right behind the high school. Tomkins has two sons, Nicholas and Benjamin, who attended Sidway, Kaegebein and the middle school. They both graduated from our GIHS, Nick in 2008 and Ben in 2011.

"We were fortunate to host many exchange students, including Eduardo Toledo, who arrived from Brazil in 2007, graduated from our high school and is still an important part of our family," Tomkins said.

"I have lived on Grand Island since 1982 and am proud to have served my community in many ways whenever possible," Tomkins said. "My husband and I took on Little League teams, soccer teams, basketball teams and Cub Scout dens. I served as treasurer of the Cooperative Nursery School and was an officer in the Sidway and Kaegebein PTA. I have also served on the Grand Island Parks and Recreation Advisory Board, Niagara PAL Board, West River Homeowners Association Board, Relay For Life and numerous other community and political committees.

For the past 27 years, Tomkins has worked full time at Sevenson Environmental Services as their corporate travel coordinator.

"I am fortunate to have served two terms as a trustee in a school district where the residents have the foresight to let us tackle some difficult issues," Tomkins said. "Our community passed a bond issue that allowed us to improve the infrastructure in every school building on the Island. At the high school, we built a new technology wing, greatly improved the auditorium and built an improved track with a turf, multi-sport field. Our current board just finished up our No. 1 priority, the search process and hiring of a new superintendent."

"I promise to keep asking the tough questions and will continue to hold our administrators accountable, while promoting what I feel is right for our children," Tomkins said. "I am proud of being involved in the development of our current capital project and look forward to seeing it completed. These much-needed infrastructure improvements will go a long way towards the growth and education of our children, while maintaining Grand Island's tradition of excellence in education, music and sports."

Lisa Pyc

Pyc said she is honored to have served on the Grand Island School Board for the last three years, two as board president.

"I have decided to run again for a seat on the school board because there are many issues that I am passionate about. I feel confident that I have a proven record of advocating for the best interest of children and the community," Pyc said. "As an incumbent I can ensure cohesiveness, stability and consistency for many years to come if I am re-elected."

Pyc said she approaches the work on the Board of Education with great respect and takes tremendous pride in being a board member. "I find it deeply rewarding to work on behalf of our children, families, and our district. It is because I am so dedicated to this work that I am seeking re-election to the board of education," she said.

Her educational background includes:

•Bachelors in psychology

•Master's in counselor education from Canisius College

•New York state licensed mental health counselor.

•Over 11 years experience in her degree field.

"It will be my personal mission to develop and support programs that increase the support and wellness of our students, families, and community," she said.

"At this time I have the wonderful opportunity to be a stay-at-home mom, which enables me to be actively involved in my three children's classes," Pyc said. She has a son in fourth grade and two children in second grade at Huth Road Elementary. "These experiences have given me a well-rounded foundation for my work as a school board member."

"I will continue to promote school, teacher, and parent communication to allow for student success. Our community is our school's biggest asset. I will continue to be available to all stakeholders to further promote transparency between the school board and the community. It is the taxpayer's right to know how our tax dollars are used in the school district they are supporting. I will continue to work with the members of our community and the current board members to make sure this continues into the future."

She described herself as accessible, accountable and passionate.

Dawn Lawley

Lawley is a lifelong resident of Grand Island who looks at her hometown and its school district with pride.

"I grew up here, I love it here. I am Grand Island, blue and white," she said.

Lawley is a Grand Island High School graduate. She and her husband, Kirk, have two children who, like their mother, are products of the GICSD system. Her son Jake is a 2013 graduate of Grand Island High School and her daughter Julia will graduate this year.

Now that her children are grown, she wants to run for the school board and "remain a part of the community and a great school system."

She has a degree in psychology and social science from the University at Buffalo. She has worked in the insurance industry for the last 25 years and is currently an underwriter.

Lawley said she would like to see the board "moving toward greater relations between everyone involved in the best interests of our kids, meaning the administration, the teachers, the SRPs, the bus garage, the custodians."

"What I would truly love to see is healthy school district relations between all of those parties," she said.

She has been a soccer and softball coach and manager, and has taught religious education.

She wants to see a team of seven school board members that reflect the community and that represents the best interests of the kids.

"To run an efficient team, you need everyone working together toward the same goal with no other interest," Lawley said.

Lawley has been a regular attendee at board meetings for the last year. She supports the budget that will be voted on the same night as the election. She believes in "being fiscally responsible for the portion that a board can control. You need to be responsible and accountable for that, but you also need to keep up the excellence we need in our schools," Lawley said.

Lawley called herself "loyal, honest and committed" in dealing with others.

"I can work with people well. I believe in respect for others, and bringing different opinions together creates the greatest answer for everyone involved, and I believe in our kids," she said.

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