• Board Candidate Questionnaire Responses

     

    Michael Johnson

    1. Please tell us about yourself and why you are seeking to serve the Cassadaga Valley CSD community?

    Hello,my name is Michael Johnson. I am a life long resident of the district. I am a proud graduate of the CVCS class of 1994.I am happy married to my high school sweetheart,also from CVCS. We have two children. I am proud to be able to be a stay at home dad. I am seeking to serve on the school board because I believe a school board should be receptive to the students , parents ,teachers , staff and community .So any group ,person should have the right to express their concerns and be heard,not just to speak.If elected I hope I can build trust,support,and understanding from the students,parents,teachers,staff and community. I think this will be a great learning experience.

     

    1. What do you feel are the greatest strengths of the Cassadaga Valley Central School District?

    The greatest strengths I think of Cassadaga Valley Central School District is the heritage of the district, the students and the teaching staff.

     

    1. In your opinion, what are three of the most important challenges facing the Cassadaga Valley Central School District and why do you feel those are important for our school community at this time?

    The most important challenges facing Cassadaga Valley Central School District is first technology. With technology advancing it is important that the teachers have the learning and tools to keep up with the times. Second is enrollment. We need to show that Cassadaga Valley Central District is a place where families want to bring their children, by having the best teachers and programs for the students. Last is commutation. There is a need for the school to have more communication with the community.

     

    1. What positions have you held or experiences do you have that will help you serve as part of the team that provides fiscal oversight for our school district?

    I was the manager of the Sinclairville Superette for many years. President of the Cassadaga Midget Football Program and a scout leader for the Cassadaga Pack 219. Also help out with Gerry baseball. I might not have as much experience as the other candidate but I am willing to learn and work hard. Willing to go against the status quo.

     

    1. What are your hopes and dreams for our school district as we move forward?

    My hopes and dreams for Cassadaga Valley Central School District is knowing that we provide the education needed at the highest level. Provide a safe and secure building and provide organizations and competitive sports programs. Most importantly is to make sure that all students, parents, teachers and staff feel welcome and feel like they belong.

     

     

     

    Jeanne Oag

    1. Please tell us about yourself and why you are seeking to serve the Cassadaga Valley CSD community?

    I am seeking my third term as a Cassadaga Valley school board member.  It has been a pleasure to serve with my fellow board members and I appreciate the dedication and professionalism of our staff, Administrative personnel and the Superintendent.  There are many exciting opportunities being created for our students and I want to continue being a part of that momentum!

     

    I have been a Chautauqua County resident all of my life – attending Bemus point schools in my childhood and continuing my education at SUNY Fredonia, majoring in Elementary Education with a minor in English.  With my husband, Alistair, we have owned and operated Interprep Performance Tuning in Jamestown, NY for the past 25 years.  My family has lived in Gerry for 27 years and our daughter, Catherine, is a 2016 CV graduate.  She is currently a Junior at SUNY Fredonia, majoring in History with minors in Italian Studies and Museum Studies.

     

    There have been many opportunities to volunteer in my community over the years.  I have volunteered at Sinclairville Free Library for 18 years as a board member/Treasurer, Storytime leader, and until last year, a NYS Summer Reading Program director and teacher.  Currently I am working with the library on their Healthy U initiative, which highlights the many fun and inexpensive or free things available to people of all ages and abilities looking to live a more active lifestyle.

    Before joining the Board of Education in 2007, I was a member of the Student/Parent Organization at Sinclairville Elementary and served as its President for 2 years.  I continue to volunteer at the school a few hours every week in Mrs. Hallberg’s Kindergarten class.  The early years of educating our children are so important and I’ve always felt that devoting my time in the elementary school kept me focused on the important issues affecting our students – PreK through 12th.

     

    After a short time away from the school board, I am eager to join in on all of the exciting progress being made in our district!  The two-year capital improvement projects are almost complete and I’ve been hearing about many new program initiatives at the recent board meetings.  I continue to support the Board of Education in their efforts to provide the taxpayers with a budget that will continue to address the needs of the district and the efforts of our dedicated staff.

     

    1. What do you feel are the greatest strengths of the Cassadaga Valley Central School District?

    Cassadaga Valley has many strengths!

    I would narrow them down to the following three:  Community, Creativity and Collaboration!

    Throughout the years as a parent, Board member and resident, I have always been proud to be from “The Valley”!  The people in our district are an integral part of Cassadaga Valley’s success.     Parents have advocated for their children and community members have approached the board to not only resolve problems but also to initiate new programs and ideas for the school.  Community members are invited to be on various committees that participate in staff hires, financial audits or new program initiatives that are being created.   I could not do my job effectively as a Board member without the input of the community.

     

    Creativity is not just for the students in our district!  I have seen many great programs and events come about because a staff member(s) or community member had an idea!  The 2nd annual Spring Thing has returned, our community fitness center, the Hair and Care Clinic, Cougar U and the Science Fairs are just a few examples of what can be accomplished when an idea is promoted!   There are a lot of great ideas in The Valley and as a board member, I have always loved playing a part in them becoming reality.

     

    Collaboration has been the key to The Valley’s thriving school community.  Administration and staff are working together at unprecedented levels to offer students not only a sound education, but also opportunities to broaden their horizons beyond the walls of the classroom.  Our local libraries, businesses and churches also work hard to offer our students enrichment opportunities during the school year and continuing into the summer.  This vital working together within the district is a demonstration of just how much we value our children.

     

    1. In your opinion, what are three of the most important challenges facing the Cassadaga Valley Central School District and why do you feel those are important for our school community at this time?

    I consider the declining enrollment, lack of equitable state aid and the health and well-being of the district as our three most important challenges.  Declining enrollment across the state has resulted in a number of districts looking to share extracurricular athletics, programming and services and to tuition their students to schools outside of their district.  Cassadaga Valley is uniquely situated in the heart of the county and has been working diligently to create more programs that provide educational opportunities for all of our students and that can also be of interest to other districts.  

     

    State government continues to be one of our biggest obstacles.  Throughout my 2 terms I have worked continuously with our elected officials to end unfunded mandates and restrictions to shared services or merging districts.  The rural districts of WNY have unique needs compared to the wealthier districts downstate.   Every year a complicated state aid formula and tax cap formulation determines how districts prepare their final budget.  Long range fiscal planning continues to be difficult because each year requires that the formulas be recalculated and cuts to existing state aid are always a possibility. 

     

    The last challenge to our district is also a challenge to our nation.  Too numerous to count, the situations that many students bring to school each day – such as hunger, abuse, depression, addiction – are huge impediments to learning.  Our country guarantees the right for every child to have an education and is a cornerstone to our nation’s success.   For Cassadaga Valley, the responsibility must encompass having appropriate staff to recognize and intervene on behalf of the student & family, along with programing such as Free and Reduced Lunch/Breakfast. 

     

    1. What positions have you held or experiences do you have that will help you serve as part of the team that provides fiscal oversight for our school district?

    Upon being first elected to the Board, I requested a seat on the Audit Committee.  I maintained that seat throughout my two terms and participated in all annual internal and external audits, as well as participated in our latest State Audit completed in 2017.  This experience was invaluable as we prepared yearly budgets for the district.  I have worked with the board on 10 school budgets and am proud of the fact that all were approved by the taxpayers!  I have held the office of Vice President and President of the Board of Education spanning 5 years.  As a board member, I have also participated in several contract negotiations for administration and faculty.  The board also has the obligation to evaluate and negotiate the contract of the Superintendent on a yearly basis.  Currently, I am a member of the Chautauqua County School Board Assoc., in my 2nd term as 2nd Vice President.  This organization not only provides professional development opportunities for all district board members, they also advocate for our districts with government officials over many important educational issues, including financial.

    I have handled the financial affairs of our business for over 25 years and held the position of Treasurer of the Sinclairville Free Library.   As a district resident, I also understand the importance of keeping a reasonable tax levy that provides for our student’s success at a cost we can afford.

     

    1. What are your hopes and dreams for our school district as we move forward?

    The future is very bright for Cassadaga Valley students and residents!   Our staff and administration are working at full speed; our students are enjoying more educational and extracurricular opportunities than ever before.  In the Valley, we will continue to value our past as we prepare for our future.  That future for our students is ever changing and I hope to make sure that Cassadaga Valley is at the forefront to meet those challenges.  A student leaving our halls will have the education to pursue their dreams and to achieve a career and life that is successful for them.