Four running for three postitions on Eden School Board
Due to the resignations of former school board members Patrick Howard and Brian Burgstahler, and the decision of Andrew Breier not to seek re-election, the term of each newly elected board member will be different.
The top vote getter of the May 15 elections will have a three-year and six-week term. The candidate with the second highest total of votes will have a three-year term, while the candidate with the third highest total will have a two-year, six-week term.
In alphabetical order, the candidates are:
• Michael M. Byrnes, 25, is a lifelong resident of Eden and a graduate of Eden Jr./Sr. High School. He is a member of the Eden Conservation Board and is the owner of M&B Horse Stables. He is a former member of the Eden School District Shared Decision Making Committee and is a volunteer for the Eden Farm Museum.
“I enjoyed all that was offered to me at Eden when I went to school and I want to see that kept,” Byrnes said.
“Every year a budget gets a passed and every year it seems that the sports, music and art curriculum are always being threatened.
“Budgets need to be fair for the taxpayers, but it also needs to focus on how to keep these programs. We need to reduce overhead costs, administrative costs and actively apply for grants.”
According to Byrnes, an audit of the district revealed they did not apply for or take advantage of different types of funding opportunities.
“Other schools get funding, why don’t we?” Byrnes said.
This is Byrnes’ second bid to be elected to the Eden School Board. He was narrowly defeated three years ago.
• Scott Henderson, 48, has been a resident of Eden for the past 10 years, is an engineer employed by Northrop Grumman in Williamsville and is active with the Eden Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts.
“I want to dig in and help the district. Tough decisions need to be made and I’m not afraid to get into it,” Henderson said.
“No one wants to raise taxes, but one needs to look at the whole picture. This is going to be about nickels and dimes, not a lot of dollars, that can be trimmed from areas within the budget. This is going to be tough and there are no easy answers, ” Henderson said.
According to Henderson, he would like to see the school district’s ratings get up to be one of the top 10 in Western New York. He said he believes the district needs to find the best approach and stay with it.
“I am not afraid of a challenge and I am willing to put the work into it. I was always there to pitch in with the Cub Scouts, grab a mop or do whatever. I’m willing to put the effort into making this work. I’m not afraid to get my hands dirty.”
Henderson and his wife, Kirsten, have two sons, George and Kyle, who both attend the Eden School District.
This is his first time running the Eden School Board.
• Barbara Henry, 53, has been in Eden for the past 16 years. She and her husband Martin, are preparing to open a home garden center in the town.
“I have wanted to run for the school board for several years because I believe in education and giving back to the community,” Henry said. She added that she waited until her children were a bit older before throwing her hat into the ring.
“I have a passion that all students deserve a good education, no matter what. I believe that teachers and students are working together and that we need to let them do that.”
According to Henry, one really needs to understand the budget process to get a perspective on what is going on.
“One cannot stand on the sidelines and point fingers at the process and make promises that cannot be kept. It is a triangle we have that is made up of the state, the school and the taxpayers.
“I believe that the taxpayers and the students need an advocate and I want to be the voice for them,” Henry said.
Henry and her husband have two children, one of whom is attending Eden Elementary.
This is her first time running for the Eden School Board.
• Robert J. Reed, 50, is a lifelong resident of Eden, a 1979 graduate of Eden High School and is employed by NYS Office of Children and Family Services as a day care fire inspector. He is the chairman of the US 62 National Veterans Highway Project, adjutant of the Sons of the American Legion, Post No. 880. He is the past chair of the Eden Corn Fest, past chaplain on the SAL Post No. 880, past fire commissioner of the North Evans Fire District and a former Eden soccer coach.
“I’ve spoken to a lot of parents about A.B. block scheduling and I think we need to ask if this really works,” Reed said. “My concern is that I’m not sure if students are getting the proper classes they need, when they need it.
“I don’t believe the system is completely broken but I believe we can come up with a happy medium. I personally think it needs to be closely looked into,” Reed said.
According to Reed, the Parent Portal aspect of the school’s website is pretty bare bones and that he knows there is much more available for the teachers.
“We need to give every child a chance to succeed, we need to give the teachers the tools to do that and we need administrators who will work with the teachers,” Reed said.
He added that his work in the fire districts, where he helped write successful grants and worked on significant budgets, makes him a strong candidate for the school board.
“With my job I see schools with a lot less than Eden, doing a lot more. Why is that?
“I believe I have enough time to make things better at our district. I care about all the children in the town and I know once on the board I can help.”
Reed and his wife JoAnne have four children, three of which are Eden graduates. This is Reed’s second bid to be elected to the Eden School Board. He was a candidate last year.
A “Meet the Candidates” will be held from 7 to 8 p.m. on Thursday, May 10, at the Eden Jr./Sr. High School library.
District residents are also being asked to vote on the 2012-13 school budget for a total sum of $25,180,031. According to Superintendent Ronald K. Buggs, this is a decrease of 3.75 percent from the current budget.