COLTON - After serving for four years on the Colton-Pierrepont Central School Board of Education, Jo Ann Roberts is looking for a second term on the board, as is her opponent Scott A. Baxter, who served one term on the board from 2008 to 2012.
Jo Ann Roberts
When asked why she decided to run for re-election, Ms. Roberts replied, I think its an important position. I think people in the community should be involved, Ms. Roberts said. I find it very rewarding for myself, as well as those who rely on me for information.
Since being elected to the board four years ago, Ms. Roberts said the board has handled some pretty important business including the hiring of a new superintendent two years ago and a new principal, who will start next year.
With the previous superintendent and principal retiring, I feel we have been extremely successful in filling these positions with quality people who will continue to keep our school and our kids on the forefront of technology, safety and academics, she said. The one thing I realized when we were doing the hiring for these position is candidates from other districts confirmed that Colton-Pierrepont is as a leader by other schools in our district (BOCES) in technology and academics.
Ms. Roberts also said she feels like the board had done a good job with its budgets over the years, despite the trying fiscal times.
With cutbacks in funding and school aid, its always challenging, but Im confident that our school is in the best position it can be, she said. Our superintendent is continuing to look for ways to share services so that we can continue to offer the best education for our students.
And while many districts have had to resort to massive layoffs and the elimination of programs, Ms. Roberts said thats something that so far Colton-Pierrepont has been able to avoid.
Weve been successful in doing so (creating responsible budgets) without compromising the staff and programs that make us who we are, she said.
As for the next four years, Ms. Roberts said she would like to see the school focus on the safety of its students.
In an age of increased bullying and violence, I believe in an open door policy so that every voice may be heard, she said, noting that every voice includes community, staff, parents and students.
Its also crucial for school board members to be objective in their decision-making practices, looking carefully at policies, budgets, and programs that impact the students and faculty, while at the same time balancing the needs of the residents and taxpayers within the community we represent, she said.
Ms. Roberts graduated from Potsdam Central School in 1975 and graduated from SUNY Canton in 1979 with a degree in secretarial science. She has also taken continuing education classes at both R.I.T. and Monroe Community College.
She is employed by the St. Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce as its events and promotions manager, while also owning and operating a small business of her own, The Nut Shop International.
Ms. Roberts lives in Pierrepont with her 12-year-old daughter, who is in the seventh grade at Colton-Pierrepont and their two-year-old family dog.
Scott A. Baxter
When asked why he decided to run for the school board again, Mr. Baxter said education is something that has always a been important to him.
Education to me is a very important thing, he said, adding he spent 15 of his 20 years in the U.S. Air Force working as an instructor.
Its that experience plus his work as safety director at La Valle Transportation in Potsdam, where he oversees 100 drivers and works to ensure that all state and federal regulations are met, that Mr. Baxter said would make him a good school board member.
With all of the challenges that are happening, financially and with everything else, they need good leadership to make the best decisions possible, he said. The teachers need a supportive board, but the kids are the biggest reason Im running.
As for the districts accomplishments during his time on the board, Mr. Baxter noted the district was identified by U.S. World News & Report as a Silver Medal School and one of the top schools in all of New York state, an honor that the district also received again this year.
Thats a very prestigious honor, he said.
He also noted that the district has been able to avoid layoffs.
A lot of schools have been forced into layoffs, but we havent had to do that, he said. Weve had some attrition, but weve been able to maintain our curriculum and programs.
That was another thing he liked about this years budget, the first in four years that he didnt have a part of.
The administration and school board kept the increase as small as possible and were able to maintain all of the programs. Theres nothing I can say I would have done differently.
Should he be elected, responsible budgets without negatively impacting the quality of education offered at Colton-Pierrepont is something he said he would like to see continue for the next four years.
When asked what his goals for the next four years would be, he replied, To ensure the students have the highest level of education possible and to keep the tax levy increases as low as possible for the taxpayers.
Mr. Baxter graduated from Potsdam Central School and then entered the Air Force, spending 20 years in the military before retiring. He lives in Colton and now works at La Valle Transportation.
Mr. Baxter and Ms. Roberts are vying for one avalable seat on the board. That seat is a four-year term. Polls will be open from noon to 8 p.m. on May 21 at the school.