A new look in the form of youthful insight was officially brought to the Frontier Central School Board at Tuesday’s (Oct. 2) meeting, as Frontier High School senior Hannah Booth was welcomed in as the ex-officio, non-voting student member of the board.
Booth was sworn in by District Clerk Nancy Racine, as were chosen student alternates Courtney Schmidt and Thomas Krajewski, who are both seniors and student government members at Frontier High. The trio will serve in their duties through June 30, 2013. Booth thanked the board and district voters who approved a proposition item last May for the student representative to serve on the board in 2012-13. She added that the majority of her duties will include reporting to Frontier’s student community related items discussed during the board’s regular meetings. The student representative is not permitted to sit it on executive sessions or vote on matters.
“I’m very excited to report to the school on things that really matter, such as the budget,” said Booth, who is in her second year of serving as secretary of the student government committee. The senior additionally said she has attended a number of Frontier board meetings during the last year and is looking forward to forming productive working relationships with board members. Booth reported to the board Tuesday that the recently completed Homecoming Week at Frontier High served as a “great success” for overall student and staff involvement.
Since the proposition item was approved last May for a student to serve on the board as an ex-officio member, there had been much discussion among district officials on how to select an individual, as well as the designation of stated duties for that person. Frontier High Principal Jeff Sortisio said Tuesday that an 11-member advisory board had worked to bring about and mete interest in the student rep/alternate positions. Eventually, five student essays were submitted requesting their interest in the position, and the written items of Booth, Schmidt and Krajewski were selected as the most suitable in the individuals serving the district.
“(The essays of Booth, Schmidt and Krajewski) were three that stood out above the rest,” said Sortisio. “We’re very proud of them and they will serve the community well.”
The selection of the student member and accompanying alternates to the board is a new matter of interest to the district. In the past, district officials had encouraged student government students or administrators to communicate related information to the board during public comment sessions at meetings, or by other means.
During the 2011-12 academic year, however, former student government President Davis Podkulski had lobbied the item of a non-voting, ex-officio serving on the board to district officials. The matter was eventually brought before district residents as a proposition item during the May budget vote and was approved by a large margin.
Another meeting item included board members continuing discussions regarding the possibility of reducing district polling sites from five to one, with the incentive being $10,000 in savings to the district. Ultimately, the item was tabled by officials, as Board Member Jeremy Rosen made a motion for the tabling and fellow Board Member Thomas Best Jr. seconded it. Board Member Jack Chiappone had earlier made a motion for the board to vote on the matter of reducing the number of polling places, with Board Member Lynn Burke seconding Chiappone’s motion. Chiappone and Board Member Larry Albert were vocal proponents of reducing the polling sites in an effort to save the district money, with Albert mentioning the use of absentee ballots in the case of an elderly resident not being able to travel to a hypothetical, further site in a central location.
“We’ve heard that we cannot continue to do (budget/financial) business as usual,” said Albert, who added that maintaining the current five voting sites has presented problems to the district, also challenging fellow board members to come up with another way to find $10,000 in savings. “We should look to cut as far away from (programs of) students as we possibly can. (Reducing polling sites), to me, is a good way to start. My vote is to go with one polling place.”
Best, Rosen and Board Members Nancy Wood and Martin Lalka spoke notably in favor of keeping the current five polling sites in operation, stating the need to service the needs of elderly residents or those who have a busy schedule and want to vote. It was also stated among the four board members that the matter of consolidating polling sites should be brought before district voters, not decided upon by board members.
“We asked our voters to take a survey (on the reduction of polling sites) a few years ago, and they stated they’d like to keep the current setup,” said Wood. “(Residents) are not going to go all around the district to vote.”
Rosen echoed that sentiment, stating, “(Residents) like the convenience of going to their (nearby) location.”
Board Member Patrick Boyle said that although he is leaning in favor of the district consolidating polling sites to save money, further information should be obtained regarding the matter before an ultimate decision is made. Specific data, Boyle noted, can possibly be found by researching other school districts that opted to have just a single polling site, with an eye on resulting voter turnout being either maintained or diminished.
Board President Janet Plarr said the priority of the district is to provide residents with the most possible information regarding the matter, including cost savings, alternate means of voting contributions and other related material. Booth had chimed in when asked about her view on the matter, stating that finding ways to save costs in Frontier is important.
The senior student added that residents invested in voting will find their way to a polling site, even at a central location.
Superintendent James Bodziak noted that district officials have until early January to make a decision on moving in a direction regarding the item, encouraging board members to have sufficient background information before voting on or making directives regarding the reduction of polling sites.