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BBP BOE Race: Q&A With Challenger Michael Miller

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 Michael Miller, who isvying against fellow challenger John Lynch for a two-year seatt now held by BOE Vice President Andrea O’Neill. O'Neill's seat is a two-year term seat given the board change from nine to seven members. O'Neill is running for the three-year seat of current board member Kathy Heinlein who elected not to run again.

Full Name: Michael Miller
Years in District
: 4
Children in District
: 0
Occupation
: Physical/Health Education Teacher
Educational Level
: Administrative SBL/SDL Degree in Process; Masters in Health Education, SUNY Cortland; Bachelors in Physical Education, SUNY Cortland
Special skills/licenses/accomplishments you believe will help in your role as a board member: Being a teacher I have certain insight into the school that others do not have. I know what a school needs and does not need to run effectively. I am privy to the latest technologies, curriculum constructions, and mandates.  I am a hard working, persistent person, who always tries to see both sides of an issue. I will always make myself readily available to meet or have phone conversations with any stakeholder in the community.

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

The biggest challenge that we need to face as a district is hiring a qualified, financially savvy, curriculum orientated superintendent. The superintendent must have a clear mission/vision for the school. She/he must effectively utilize their administrative team, faculty, and staff as a vehicle to attain their vision. Characteristics of a great superintendent are he/she must be an instructional leader, effective communicator, good listener, flexible, and not afraid to take risks or make a commitment that ultimately benefits our students and community.

The best way to solve this problem is an extensive search through BOCES, which already exists and helps move the process forward.  We should be setting up interviews with board members, faculty and staff, and community members. All stake holders should have a say throughout this process.

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.

First and foremost, we need to advocate as a board and a community for mandate relief from the state. We can never be certain what is going to happen, so we must be prepared and proceed as if the relief may not be forthcoming. The biggest area of the budget that we can reduce with minimal impact to students and programs is the position of Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum. We need to absorb this position, and place more responsibilities on the principals, department chairs, and lead teachers who understand the curriculum needs of our district. Another cost saving measure would be returning special education students from BOCES. We have established a top notch special education program, so we should utilize this and educate students at home whenever feasible.

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.

We should be consolidating district operations wherever possible. As a district we have consolidated on a few purchases, but we need to do more. We should be making the most out of the great library in the community. We should be in contact with other districts buying in bulk and utilizing snow and trash removal corporations. We should be working together for sharing services in the area of professional development, curriculum development, and teacher training. We have to work together with other districts to increase revenue, and also look at how different districts do business.

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

Teacher evaluations are very important and something that is mandatory by Governor Cuomo, if we want to continue receiving state aid. We need to work with teachers to help them grow as life-long learners. We need to use this as a tool to observe and evaluate to help teachers become master teachers, not as something to punish them. There are so many factors that jeopardize evaluations; absenteeism, home-life, motivation, and mainstreamed students. For these reasons, I do not think that parents should have access to teacher evaluations.

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

As I mentioned above I think we need to absolve the position of Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum. My goal is to introduce the district to Atlas Rubicon. This is an electronic web system that facilitates curriculum mapping. It provides an overview of what is actually happening in the classroom. It aligns the curriculum with standards.  It is transparent and something that all community members can see. This will ensure that all curriculums are up to date, and linked to common core standards. As a teacher and someone who uses this system, I would be able to help with the implementation of this program.  

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? No.

Do you favor the transportation proposal on the ballot this year? No.

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