Here’s what I would like to accomplish on the BKW School Board

To the Editor:

Hi, my name is Randy Bashwinger and I am running for the Berne-Knox-Westerlo Board of Education on May 15 and I’m asking for your vote.  I am a father of six (four school-age attending BKW), active member of the Berne Fire Department, vice president of the Helderberg rescue squad, former member of the BKW Budget Advisory Committee, active Little League volunteer, a founder of “neighbors helping neighbors,” was born and raised in this district, and am a proud Bulldog graduate of 1989.

As a member of the board of education, there are specific goals that I would like to accomplish over the next three years:  

— 1.  Building Project / Safety

— 2.  Hiring Practices

— 3.  Curriculum and Programming

— 4.  Taxes

One: As many of you know, the school board has begun the process of planning a building project just short of $20 million. I am in support of this project and would like to work with the board to see this project through.

I have spent the last 28 years in the building industry in sales, service, and construction. I have spent my adult life working with architects, engineers, and construction/project managers and would like to use my experience to help the board bring this project to a close.

I believe a focused approach to this project to make sure that every tax dollar goes towards student and employee safety and working with the staff and faculty to fully fund the district’s academic needs, and addressing the district’s buildings that are in much need of repair is the right approach.

As a parent, I recognize that we live in very different times. I fully support the creation of a school-resource-officer position and for the past year or so I have worked with the Albany County Sheriff's Office and Sheriff Craig Apple (for the past six months) to help bring this position to our school.  I was happy to see the school board finally act on this this past Monday and, once elected, I commit to seeing this through and working with the district in tying this position into the security piece of the building project.

Two: Several years ago, a former board member, Gerry Larghe, created a hiring package that the board used for a handful of years. It was very effective. Many of the employees and administrators hired with the package were quickly poached from BKW, which tells me the right people were hired.

In recent years, the board has debated its effectiveness and stepped outside the box and has been criticized for not having proper hiring practices in place. Employees are what make or break an organization and it starts with proper hiring. As a board member, I commit to making sure proper transparent procedures are in place so that only the best and most qualified are hired. In addition, I commit to working with our current employees to make sure they receive whatever support they need to succeed and work with the school board and the administration to keep our great employees.

Three: It’s great to see the district add programs such as STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) and STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics) offerings as well as Future Farmers of America and other programs and as a board member I will look to expand that growth into vocational offerings as well.

Not every child will become a scientist, lawyer, or surgeon, and we need to support children who are very talented in other areas. There is a need for skilled tradesmen and we need to do what we can as a district to reach every child.

Four: Our school taxes make up the vast majority of our tax bill. In many cases, as much as 75 percent of our property taxes go to BKW.  As a board member, I will commit to making sure that every dollar spent is a dollar worth spending.

As an example, recently the district hired another administrator (at a cost of $120,000 to taxpayers) and I attended the meeting. There were virtually no questions asked by any of the board members prior to the vote.

Had I been on the board, I would have acted differently. I would have asked questions like: Was this position posted, how many applicants were there, do we need this position, what impact will it have on our staff, will we be replacing staff as a result, what impact will it have on our students learning, and so on.

Only by asking questions can a board member determine whether or not the money is best spent on another administrator, spent someplace else, or not spent at all. It is this type of detailed approach I commit to our district and our taxpayers.

On May 15, I am asking for your vote and I would be honored to serve our BKW district.  Anyone interested in discussing issues or topics is welcome to call me at 518-410-3409 or you can email me at . Thank you for your support.

Randy Bashwinger


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