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BBP BOE Race: Q&A With Board Challenger Bill Milligan

As the school budget vote and board election nears Patch talks with candidates on the issues.

Patch is asking all school board candidates to complete a Q&A to offer up insight on why they're running and their respective qualifications and backgrounds for serving on a school board. All board candidates are asked the same set of questions and also asked to provide some bio information.

Here is the Q&A for Bill Milligan, who is challenging incumbent trustee Jane Burgess.

Full Name: William Milligan (nickname Bill)
Years in District
: 15
Children in District
: 2
Occupation
: Solutions Architect/ Systems Engineer
Educational Level: Some college; United States Army, 1985 to 1989; German Language Course, Language Studies International, Frankfurt, Germany; Technical Courses Attended at Suffolk Community College, Dowling College, New York University, Apple Computer- Munich, Cisco 
Systems & Hewlett Packard; HP Master Accredited Systems Engineer, October 2011
Special skills/licenses/accomplishments you believe will help in your role as a board member

I have 22 years of experience working both domestically and internationally for tech industry bellwethers such as Cisco Systems and Hewlett Packard. Additionally I have learned to “think out of the box” while employed at several Silicon Valley-based startup companies. In 2003 I founded a technology-related small business. As a business owner I have made the critical decisions that have allowed my business to remain strong, even during the recession. Education continues to play an important role in my career.  I attend numerous training sessions, both onsite with real instructors and virtually via online, self-paced courses. Additionally, I personally deliver training to customers and business partners.

What is the biggest/top issue facing the school district and what is one proposal you have for solving it?

The top issue facing our school district and community is how we will address the challenge to both sustain and strengthen programs for our students moving forward, while operating within the confines of the new NYS property tax levy cap. Strong support for legislative action is required to both repeal the Triborough Amendment and further pension reform, to ensure the quality and sustainability of public education within New York State. In a parallel effort, we will need to justify each dollar spent and measure it against the academic value and opportunity provided to our students. While the new property tax cap does create significant challenges, it forces us to rethink our behavior and enact the necessary changes to preserve our schools and communities in the future.

Next year’s budget will likely be tougher than this year’s in the quest to meet the tax cap. Name one specific budget area you believe can be reduced going forward.

In order to enhance student achievement and preserve/strengthen our programs we will need to maintain a very strong focus on fiscal responsibility, so in my opinion there is no budget area or line item that should be singled out- every expense item should be carefully evaluated. I would like to advocate a program that recognizes employees of our school district who identify real potential cost savings and exhibit "out of the box" thinking. To name a specific expense item that may potentially be reduced- we should review the cost of ongoing maintenance contracts for older technology equipment and consider implementing a sparing strategy instead. Spare parts for many of the older technology products that are currently deployed within our school district may be easily acquired second-hand from sources such as Ebay in a cost effective manner. The creation of a technology standard that in part reduces the number of disparate product models for technology items facilitates significant savings in several areas, including the reduction of cost associated with vendor maintenance contracts.

Consolidation is a hot topic during budget and board election time. Do you favor consolidating school district operations wherever possible, and what is one specific area you believe would be a substantial cost-savings. If you don’t favor it, name one specific reason why not.

I support the use of shared resources (for example, BOCES) where appropriate along with a leaner, more efficient administration. Are you specifically asking whether I would support the consolidation of school districts? While this is a potential direction that New York State may move toward in the future, we should make every effort to not be forced into consolidation due to insolvency. I would not want to lose the community aspect of our school district.

Do you believe parents should have access to teacher evaluations? If yes, why, if no why.

Partially, if we can maintain a proper balance between a parent's right to access valuable performance data while respecting the rights of an individual teacher. The real motivation behind the public support of teacher evaluations is simply to provide a vehicle to both identify and reward our teachers who excel, and remediate and/or dismiss teachers who do not meet performance standards. I support an evaluation process that will be fair to our teachers and allow flexibility at a local level to address geographical and socioeconomic differences. As an employee within the private sector, my performance evaluations are not made available to the general public. While we can greatly benefit by encouraging the use of some private industry practices to help address our fiscal problems, we should avoid invoking double standards.

What is one specific goal you have established if elected to the board?

A specific goal that I have is to strengthen the relationship between our community and school district. Open communication and transparency are key elements required to create a strong bond and lasting relationship that is based on trust. In December I initiated this process by videotaping board/budget meetings and creating a website for our community, where these meetings may be viewed online. This type of activity should not only continue, they should be expanded.

There are two referendums Bayport-Blue Point taxpayers will vote on this year. Patch asked candidates to state whether they're in favor or not of the propositions:

Do you favor reducing the BBP school board from 7 to 5?  Y

Do you favor the transportation proposal on the ballot this year?  N

Bill Milligan May 08, 2012 at 09:44 PM
Do you favor reducing the BBP school board from 7 to 5? a. If we agree to encourage greater community involvement and participation thru the expanded use of committees, then “yes”. As already proven by many school districts on Long island, a smaller board that leverages community-based committees that are focused on specific issues can provide a very effective model in better representing the needs of our students and community. In some cases a larger board has only created an illusion of better community representation. Do you favor the transportation proposal on the ballot this year? a. I am sympathetic to the needs of our parents that choose to educate their children within parochial and private schools, however I cannot support the current transportation proposal. I feel that the stated cost is inflated and viable alternatives were not explored. The pending closure of the Prince of Peace Catholic School in Sayville later this year will effectively provide parents with one less local alternative, so the issue of transportation limits and methods should be reconsidered. I will promote a creative approach toward producing a revised transportation proposal.
Ed McQuillan May 09, 2012 at 01:53 AM
Bill, Please reconsider your opposition to the transportation proposal on the ballot. The district is saying that the cost of this proposal is approximately 180k. What they don't say is that the state reimburses the district approximately 75k. Also consider the cost to the district if the parochial and private school students were to transfer to BBP schools! Ouch!
retired resident May 13, 2012 at 11:54 AM
WHAT IS HAPPENING HERE? Nothing more than open, level headed, respectful communication! Can't argue with that!

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