Best, Boyle show enthusiasm for Frontier School District
Thomas M. Best Jr. and Patrick Boyle are seeking to fill the two vacant seats on the board, as Board President Michael Comerford and Board Vice President Stanley Figiel are not seeking reelection. The election will take place on Tuesday, May 15.
Best introduced himself to the audience as a “life-long resident of the Town of Hamburg and the Frontier School District.” Having graduated from Frontier in 1986 and now the father of two children who attend Frontier schools, Best said his decision to run for the Board of Education was in part to “ensure the best education for (his) children.”
He said that he loves the quality of the buildings, facilities and staff that Frontier offers.
“We are very lucky to have the facilities and the faculty that we have. Having experienced a Frontier education myself, I know it was a great experience. We should continue to give our kids everything for them to be the best they can, within the budget,” Best said.
Best has been employed by the Town of Hamburg Police Department for 21 years, has been with the Detective Bureau for 14 years and is a detective sergeant. He is the current president of the Hamburg Police Benevolent Association and has served on the Frontier Safe Schools committee.
Patrick Boyle described himself as a “life-long learner,” who is looking forward to gaining a deeper knowledge of the school board and Frontier district as a board member.
He has been a Hamburg resident for 26 years and is the father of three children, two of which who graduated from the district and one who is still a student.
“I really believe we have a responsibility as educators to our children,” Boyle said, adding “We really need to prepare our young people for jobs…. All those things (students) need to do, to earn a trade or PhD, they get the foundations here in the district.”
Boyle is a technologist, running information services for a gas company. He said that the ideas and skill sets he possesses will be an asset to the Board of Education.
One of the things he wishes to accomplish on the board is to “raise the visibility of academics.”
“I would like to see us focus on...graduation rates and placement of students after high school,” he said.
During a question-and-answer portion of the forum, the candidates were asked for their opinions on some of the referendums up for a vote next week.
When it came to the decision of reducing the school board from nine to seven members (which would go into effect July 1, 2013), both candidates were strongly opposed.
“I cannot understand why anyone would want to downsize the board? It’s a big district, there’s a lot to do,” Boyle said. “Why would we as a district want to cut down the number of people that help the district get better?”
Best agreed. “I have not heard one logical reason for downsizing the board. It’s a board of volunteers, it’s a board of oversight,” he said. “Town of Hamburg is an example, they put it up for a vote and downsized from five to three in the town government and it has caused nothing but problems.”
Yet Boyle and Best disagreed when it came to the decision of appointing a student as an ex-officio, non-voting member to the board.
Best believed that having a student on the board would be more of a hindrance than help.
“They are not tax-payers and they are not parents,” Best said about students. “We definitely have to listen to them but I struggle to think of when they are in the board meetings with us, not having a vote and having to leave the room under certain conditions as we talk about...other matters that they would not be privy to.”
He added, however, that while he is against appointing a student board member, he is for increased communication between the students and the Board of Education.
Boyle, however, said that he “does not see a downside to having a student on the board.” While he agreed with Best that it might be uncomfortable to have to excuse the student to discuss personnel and other matters, Boyle believes that “most high school kids are operating with no information.”
He added, however, that the administration must choose a student that is “mature” and a “good communicator” to serve on the board.
The proposed 2012-2013 budget was supported by both candidates. Both Boyle and Best acknowledge that tough, “heart-wrenching” cuts had to be made, but that they were right decisions to make during difficult economic times.
“I think the administration and the school board did a great job in putting together a budget that I believe the people should, and will, pass,” Best said.
Also up for vote on May 15 is a decision to purchase school buses and grounds and maintenance equipment.
“I think (Best and I) have a lot to offer and I am looking forward to it. I’m pretty excited,” Boyle said.