GERMANTOWN—Some school districts have a hard time finding candidates for the Board of Education. Not the Germantown Central School District.
Two seats on the board are up for election this year and four candidates have filed the necessary signed petitions to run for them. None of the four is an incumbent.
Running for the school board this year are Edward Colwell, Donald Coons, David Forman and Jeremy Smith. Mr. Coons lives in Elizaville; the others live in Germantown.
Board president Eric Mortenson is not running for a second four-year term. “I’m proud and happy about what we have done in past four years, and the direction the school is headed in at this time,” he said. But Mr. Mortenson is also a member of the Gallatin Town Board and has a full-time job and a four-year old. “I don’t want to run and then not be able to devote time and energy to serve the district well,” he said.
“The school is in really good shape, in the third year of a 0% tax increase,” he said. And, in Superintendent Susan Brown’s proposed budget, programming for students is increased. Further, he said, “I’m hopeful that before I leave the board in June, we’ll have a contract with the teachers.”
Teresa Repko also is not running for another term. “After two terms on the board, I felt it was time to step back,” she said in an email Tuesday. “I appreciate all the things I was a part of in reference to our school, and it was an honor to congratulate all the graduates I met. Perhaps next year I will want to run again, but for now I’m looking forward to being an audience member.”
Mr. Colwell, 34, is a graduate of Germantown Central School. His stepson is in fifth grade and his daughter will start school in September. He works as a car inspector for Metro North.
Mr. Colwell regularly attends school board meetings, he said, and “when they started talking about closing the school, I wanted to run. That and because of the situation with the money they just found,” he added, referring to the $2.5 million the district has in a reserve set aside for no specific purpose, reported at the end of last year.
Mr. Coons, 62, ran unsuccessfully for the school board last year, but he has served on the board previously, for a total of 19 years beginning in 1991. He and his four children are all graduates of the Germantown Central School.
Mr. Coons is retired from Becton Dickinson, an international medical technology company in Canaan, CT, where he worked as a production mechanic for robotic machines.
Referring to Ms. Brown, who was appointed superintendent in 2013, Mr. Coons said, “I feel that with the new superintendent I could work to make the school as it was,” with, for example, more electives offered to students. “A lot of programs were cut that I didn’t think needed to be cut,” he said. “I’m running again so we can get those programs back and have our kids better qualified for college.”
Mr. Forman, 65, also served on the board previously, for a total of 11 years, before he lost an election in 2012. His four children graduated from GCS. He is a songwriter, singer and producer of recordings.
“Lots of people asked me to consider running,” he said, including “faculty, administrators, school board members and the general populace. And I miss the engagement, The sense of purpose of helping to guide the futures of children is very compelling. I did it happily for 11 years. I just hope that people will remember the stability and growth the district enjoyed while I was on the board.”
Jeremy Smith, 75, retired as an executive in the merchant shipping industry. His stepchildren graduated from GCS, and his late wife, Cynthia Smith, was a teacher in the district and served on the school board. Mr. Smith served one term on the Town Board and now chairs the town’s History Committee.
His main interest in running for the school board, he said “is the interest of the children, that they get best education possible on the limited funds available—and also to support Susan Brown as superintendent.”
The board election and budget vote are Tuesday, May 20. Polls will be open in the Main Street lobby of the Germantown Central School from noon to 9 p.m.