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One incumbent, two newcomers vie for two Ogdensburg school board seats

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Three candidates are vying for two seats on the Ogdensburg Board of Education in Tuesday’s election.

Voters will vote for two candidates to serve five-year terms.

Ronald N. Johnson, an incumbent, is currently serving as school board president. Michael C. Myers and Kimberly A. Scharff-Snyder are hoping to serve their first term.

Mrs. Scharff-Snyder has lived in the district for over twenty years with her husband, George H. Snyder, a teacher in the district. Mrs. Scharff-Snyder works for Pro Player Insiders, an online news agency that reports on the lives of professional athletes off the field. Mrs. Scharff-Snyder has two children, ages 11 and 13, who attend the school district.

She said her biggest concern is making sure students in the district receive a well-rounded education.

“I think it’s important to provide visual arts and community outreach outside the core curriculum, so that we’re providing students a lot more opportunities so that their interest will find them,” Mrs. Scharff-Snyder said.

She said recent cutbacks in arts and after school programs motivated her to run for school board.

“I am a huge proponent of visual arts programs and I am hugely in favor academic clubs,” she said. “Sports are great. But those other programs are equally important and they help keep kids in school and make a difference in the lives of other people that have other choices of interest.”

Mr. Myers, a conservative, said he believes in advocating more money for school districts, more arts in education, and eliminating the Gap Elimination Adjustment, legislation that redistributes school district state aid designed to help close the state’s 10 billion budget deficit.

“I want to see control of the classroom given back to the teachers and for the state to stop using money for education to pay off its debts, or if they are going to use that money, which they will, to have it actually benefit poorer districts,” Mr. Myers said.

Mr. Myers also said he disagrees with the Common Core standards and its “rushed” implementation.

“Teachers are basically being told to use packets or the modules to teach and the administrators decide what modules you use and from what company,” he said. “But there are people that want a common sense approach to education. We want to have the teachers have more pre-decisional input in what is being taught.”

Mr. Johnson so far has served one five-year term on the board. Mr. Johnson and his wife Rita have two children who graduated from Ogdensburg. He has two grandchildren who are currently attending the district. He decided to run for school board five years after serving on the building committee for the $56 million district building project for over eight years.

Mr. Johnson said that he continues to work with Assemblywoman Addie Russell, D-Theresa, and state Sen. Patricia A. Ritchie, R-Heuvelton, to eliminate the Gap Elimination Adjustment. He said he is confident the Gap Elimination Adjustment will be eliminated next year.

“This year we traveled to Albany to emphasize to our legislators that we need to eliminate the Gap Elimination Adjustment,” Mr. Johnson said. “We cannot balance the state budget on the backs of education. Our tax base is about 20 percent, compared to other districts in the area that are at 90 percent. GAP kills the school and taxpayers. We’re spreading the cost of education to only 20 percent of our area of school district. And without appropriate state aid, we have no means of raising money other than raising taxes. We are already the highest taxing school districts in the county. Aid is not getting where it needs to be the most. Our district is probably as impoverished as some New York City schools.”

He said the school has worked hard to maintain its programs without much help from state aid.

“We dug our heels in this year and have presented a budget under the tax cap with a reduced levy, while still maintaining programs,” he said. “Some positions will be eliminated through attrition, but we are working hard to make sure the budget stretches as far as it can.”

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