MASSENA — Five candidates are running for two open seats on the Massena Central School Board of Education, and the community will have an opportunity to meet them during a candidate forum scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Massena Community Center.
The seats are currently held by board President Patrick Bronchetti, who is not seeking another term, and incumbent Kristy Baker. She had been elected to a one-year term in 2020 to fill out a five-year term for former board member Jason Premo, who resigned his seat in February 2020. Following his resignation, the board appointed Patrick Serguson to serve until Ms. Baker’s election in May 2020.
This year’s candidates are Ms. Baker, Patricia Murphy, Timothy Hayes, Christopher Castell and Angela Frost. Terms will run from July 2021 to June 2026.
Ms. Baker is a lifelong resident of Massena and a 1999 Massena Central High School graduate. She holds an associate’s degree in liberal arts from SUNY Canton and a bachelor of arts in sociology from SUNY Potsdam. She was a substitute teacher for several years with the Massena Central School District and is employed as a lead teacher for Headstart.
“As a current member of the Board of Education, I have seen firsthand how demanding and rewarding this position is. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about a series of challenges that are very unique and I’m hopeful and excited to experience a more ‘normal year,’” she said.
Ms. Murphy has been an educator for 35 years, teaching at four of the five school buildings in Massena. She also taught at all grade levels pre-kindergarten through 12. She holds two degrees — an undergraduate degree from SUNY Potsdam and a master’s degree in supervision/administration from SUNY Plattsburgh.
“COVID-19 and the subsequent effects on education, I believe, should be one of the most important focuses of this pandemic. Our children have been deeply affected; I care about what happens to them in the future,” she said.
Mr. Hayes has also been an educator, working for 30 years in the St. Lawrence and Massena school districts. He taught in various special education classrooms, worked in administration as athletic director, coached, and worked with clubs, organizations and committees. He is a graduate of Massena Central, SUNY Cortland (BS in physical education and adaptive physical education) and SUNY Potsdam (master’s in instructional technology and media management).
“Having lived, worked, and raised children in Massena, I see the need to be involved with the youth of our community with regards to the education that is available to them. The world is changing constantly and it is important for our educational system to stay alive and vibrant,” he said.
Mr. Castell attended college at SUNY Plattsburgh where he obtained his bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. He currently works as a shipping coordinator for Corning Inc., Canton Plant. He is also the shop steward for his department and holds a position within United Steelworkers local 1026.
“I want to become a BOE member first because of my interest to continue to improve as well as preserve the quality of education at Massena Central. I also strongly believe in quality public education and as a BOE member hope to serve my community by improving student achievement for current and future students,” he said.
Ms. Frost is a Massena Central High School graduate and lives in the district with her husband and four children. She co-owns and operates a small business in the village and also sells real estate.
“I care about public education because I personally have three current students in the district with one about to graduate. I can see a need for more parent input for changes in our district. I am a hard worker and have a genuine interest in the betterment of our education system for our kids of Massena,” she said.
Tuesday’s candidate forum is sponsored by the Massena Music Friends and will be moderated by Courier-Observer reporter Bob Beckstead. Attendees must wear a face mask and practice social distancing. Anyone who is unable to attend may email questions for the candidates to mcsmusicfriends@gmail.
The board of education and school budget vote are scheduled for noon to 8 p.m. May 18 at the Massena Community Center.