Onteora Board of Education Vice President Tony Fletcher: Letter to the School District
Dear Onteora Resident;
Having served my three-year term since being elected by the community in 2009, the last year-plus as Vice President, I am seeking your vote for re-election to the Onteora School Board on TUESDAY MAY 15th, from 2-9pm, at your town Elementary School, because I believe in the following:
1) Accountability. I was one of the six board members (out of seven) who supported the specific reconfiguration model for our elementary schools that will go into effect in September. I desire to see this model succeed, and I am willing to hold both myself as an individual Trustee, and the Superintendent of Schools as the Board’s sole direct employee, accountable to that end. I know that the reconfiguration makes significant short-term demands on our elementary parents which, being one such parent, I have never attempted to underplay; to that end, I am thrilled that the Administration was able to provide an alternate transportation model for Grades 4-6, which the Board has now approved, and only regret that this option was not on the table back in January. (These grades will now have their own busing and stay on the later, Elementary schedule.)
The reconfiguration provides a positive long-term solution for many of the District’s perceived problems. It allows us to improve educational opportunities, as parents have long been demanding, via the establishment of Early Literacy Centered Environments at the Woodstock and Phoenicia K-3 Elementary schools, and Project Based Learning at the Bennett Grades 4-6 School. It addresses the years of declining enrollment (which have thankfully now bottomed out) by reducing our number of classes per grade. In turn, this has allowed us to reduce the budget for the first time in memory, and with it present a 0% tax levy increase at a time when the recession and years of hefty tax increases still threaten the finances of many home-owners. And it has kept all three Elementary schools open, great news for a District spanning almost 300 square miles.
2) Continuity. After years of rapid turn-over, the Onteora School Board has become settled in recent years, allowing business to be conducted in a civil and productive manner. The hiring of a new Superintendent dedicated to the education and welfare of all our students has been a major step in the right direction. Beyond the configuration of the District, the School Board’s responsibilities extend from Pre-Kindergarten to Graduation, from the annual Budget to Policy. Over my three years’ volunteer service (the role is entirely unpaid), as well as District Board and committee meetings and countless school events, I have chosen to attend various conferences across the State, been a regular presence with the Ulster County School Boards Association, championed public education in letters to regional newspapers and magazines, and sat down with our State politicians to ensure they understand our needs. I greatly enjoy contributing – positively I hope – to the culture and success of the Onteora School District, and to that of public education in New York State in general. I would like to continue in that role, as does Laurie Osmond, my fellow Trustee who is also seeking re-election, and I believe our proven commitment and what is now considerable experience is an asset for the District as we move forward.
3) Community. My social, shopping and sporting time is divided almost equally across the entire District; I have become familiar with most of our 300 square miles. I do not get embroiled in the town politics that have proven such a distraction to the District over the years. Unlike the two challengers for the School Board seats currently held by myself and Laurie Osmond, I have never called for the closure of another child’s school over that of my own; I do not think that is a positive way to represent a District as an elected official. I believe in the big picture of the Onteora School District. We have considerable work to do, especially to ensure the successful transition into the new model in September. But we are absolutely on the right path. I would appreciate your support at the Budget Vote and election on May 15, 2-9pm at your town Elementary school, so that we can continue down that path.
Tony Fletcher is a professional author with several music biographies to his name, a keen runner with many marathons under his belt, and an amateur musician who can occasionally be seen playing in the group the Catskill 45s. He has two children in the Onteora School District. He joined the School Board in 2009, was elected Vice-President in 2011, and also serves on the Health and Wellness Committee. A strong supporter of public education, he considers himself an advocate for children across the entire District, working to ensure that they get the most thorough and creative education possible within budgetary constraints. His biography of the band The Smiths, “A Light That Never Goes Out,” is being published by Crown in September 2012.
Vote Tony Fletcher and Laurie Osmond, ballot lines 1 & 4,Tues May 15, 2-9pm, at your town elementary…