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Six seek Lockport board of education seats

BY: Rikki Cason | May 16, 2013

Six are looking to become board of education members for the Lockport City School District. Three seats are open for the three-year terms to begin July 1.

Tuesday, candidates participated in a forum, where each told the public why they would make a good board member.

Incumbents Diane Phelps, Edward Sandell and Jon Williams are seeking re-election.

Williams is looking to serve his third term on the board. He currently serves as board secretary.

He has three children, two who currently attend Lockport and one that graduated.

“We’re very proud of this district in terms of the education our children are receiving,” said Williams.

As a professor in the communication program at NCCC, Williams said he sees the result of school districts from all around Western New York.

“The Lockport kids do well at the college level,” he said. “They are well prepared. I would like to see that continue.”

Over the past six years, Williams believes he has helped to maintain quality programs at fiscally responsible levels.

“The finances are tough,” he said. “State aid goes down and we are expected to do more with less and less. I think we’ve done that very well.”

He said facilities have been updated and they are working to integrate more technology, so students are prepared when they graduate.

“I’d like the opportunity to continue the fight and continue to provide the education our kids deserve,” said Williams.

Phelps is seeking her second term on the board. She was a write-in candidate three years ago.

“I am about kids,” said Phelps. “I am about community. I am about service and I am about excellence in education.”

Phelps described her self as a fiscal conservative that thinks outside the box.

She said she has a vision for doing things in a “non-traditional manner, to funnel the resources more directly to the children.”

Phelps is a 25 year resident of Lockport. Her two children have gone through the district.

Phelps is looking forward to finishing what she began in her first term and promoting excellence in this school district.

“Sometimes my views may not be popular,” said Phelps. “It’s all about the kids.”

Phelps is the district’s liaison for the New York State School Boards Association.

Sandell is vying for his third term on the board. He is currently the chair of the policy committee, along with being the representative for the Niagara Orleans School Board Association and sits on the facilities committee. He also has been a member of the audit committee.

Sandell has two children that graduated from Lockport.

While on the board, Sandell believes they have worked to provide quality education while being fiscally responsible to the taxpayer.

“That is always in play and something we try to balance,” he said.

Working as a Delphi engineer manager, Sandell said he has learned to be a team player and how to manage fiscally responsible actions.

Looking to return to the board is Marietta Schrader.

Schrader was a board of education member from 1999 to 2011. While on the board she served as secretary, vice president and during her last term she served as president.

“I have chosen to run again because I believe I can provide positive direction during very difficult economic times,” she said.

Schrader was born and raised in Lockport. She had two sons attend Lockport and she is a nurse practitioner.

“I believe in fair and balanced negotiations that are fiscally prudent and manageable, that are fair to the tax payers of Lockport as well as to the staff,” said Schrader.

Being apart of the development of 12 budgets, she said she understands the time and commitment it takes to be a board member.

Todd McNall is seeking his first term.

He is a Lockport graduate and has two children.

“I feel providing our children with quality education will have a positive effect on our futures,” said McNall.

He has worked at the GM engine facility in Tonawanda for 16 years. He was also an elected United Auto Workers official for 14 years.

This experience, he believes, will help him work hands on as a board member.

“I believe I can be an asset to the Lockport school board,” said McNall. “We must provide our children the best education possible and as a board we must work together as a team, if possible. I want to be part of the decision making process.”

Also seeking his first term is Randall Parker.

Parker has been a City of Lockport firefighter for 26 years, where he has served as union president and vice president. In that role, he has done several contract negotiations between the city and the fire department and believes those negotiating skill will help him on the board.

Parker is the father of three kids that graduated from Lockport. As a parent, he was involved in his children’s education.

“I feel strongly about continuing a superior education system for all of Lockport children,” said Parker.

He decided to run because he became concerned over decreases in enrollment, the closing of schools and other people saying they were moving out of the district because they did not want their kids to go to Lockport schools.

“I would like to work with administration, teachers and parents to find new and creative ways to make our school district a place where parents continue to be proud of sending their children,” he said.

Voting will take place from noon to 9 p.m. Tuesday. Those living in the First Ward vote at Washington Hunt, Second Ward at the Board of Education building, Third Ward at Anna Merritt, Fourth Ward at Charles Upson and Fifth Ward at Roy B. Kelley.

Those living in the Towns of Lockport, Cambria and Pendleton vote at the high school.

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