Monaghan, Canfora unopposed in re-election bids to VCSD board

Cindy Monaghan

Michael Canfora

VOORHEESVILLE — These questions were posed to the two candidates, Michael Canfora and Cindy Monaghan, both incumbents on the Voorheesville School Board, seeking re-election on May 15 in an uncontested election:

– Why did you run for the seat originally?

– What is your biography? Job, kids in the school; did you attend Voorheesville schools?

– What is your view on open data and transparency of information? What kinds of school-district information should be made public?

– What steps would you take as a school board member to improve transparency and make school-district information more widely available?

– In your view, what is the role of the teachers’ union in this district? Is the union a hindrance to learning?

– What is something that the board of education is doing well?

– What is something that the board of education needs to improve upon?

– What accomplishments has the board of education had during your tenure?

– Are there any initiatives, plans, or programs that you’ve advocated for that have been implemented?

– Is there a “pet project” of yours that you’d like to see the district implement?

– What did you think of this year’s budget; is it good for the district? Should the board have levied the maximum amount allowed?  

– How would you convince residents of the district to vote for the budget and capital project, given that the present tax system, equalization-rate mess. What do you tell voters?

– Does every student need to go to college?

– Is Voorheesville doing enough to let students know there are other, lucrative opportunities out there following graduation? Is the district under any obligation to do so?

– Did the district push Coach Robert Baron out of his job? What should be done about the lawsuit?

– There are 13 offerings for boys’ sports and eight for girls’ sports in Voorheesville. Is this a problem?

– In February 2017, The Enterprise reported on a school board meeting where Rachel Gilker, a parent, pointed out the discrepancy between school grades and standardized test scores. She said that 90 percent of current Voorheesville sixth-graders have averages of 85 or higher — with 70 percent in the 90s — and yet on the state’s standardized tests for math and English only 20 to 30 percent score in the top category of four, for mastery. Before grade inflation nationwide, Gilker said, an average grade was C; in Voorheesville, the average is an A or A-, she said. Is there anything wrong with grade inflation? Is it a problem in Voorheesville? Does Voorheesville adequately prepare students for college?

– Is there an achievement gap in the district?

– How should teacher performance be measured?

– What do you see as challenges inherent in evaluating teachers?

– What training do school leaders need to perform fair teacher evaluations?

– How should the district balance using evaluations for accountability and using them to help teachers improve?

– Does Voorheesville need a school resource officer? Why?

– Are there additional steps the district should take to ensure school safety? What, if any, are those steps?




VOORHEESVILLE – After five petitions were picked up from the district office for two available seats on the Voorheesville Central School District Board of Education, only current members Cynthia Monaghan and Michael Canfora returned them and will be unopposed in the May 15 election.

Canfora was first elected to the board in 2015; Monaghan in 2010.

The Enterprise repeatedly reached out to Monaghan and Canfora to get their views on district-related issues (see related list of questions).

After repeated emails and phone calls, The Enterprise received the following email responses from the candidates.  

From Monaghan:

“I live in the Village of Voorheesville with my husband and 2 children both of whom have attended Voorheesville Schools since Kindergarten. I am a Family Nurse Practitioner and Director of an outpatient hospital program specializing in Urology and Wound Care.  I am active with St. Matthews Parish, Boy Scout Troop 73, Voorheesville school booster clubs and the Voorheesville Community Alliance for Healthy Choices committee.

“Being an effective School Board member requires having an open mind and a willingness to develop knowledge and understanding of all aspects of the district.  Board members need to represent the district at large not just a subset of the community. Over the past eight years I have sat on all subcommittees of the BOE which include curriculum, audit, facilities and policy and governance. When I started on the board my two children were in elementary school. My son will graduate this year and my daughter will finish 10th grade. Having children who have attended each school has deepened my appreciation for  the school district as a whole and participating on sub committees the district at large.

“The BOE and administration have been working diligently on both short and long term strategic plans which enhance options for students in creative ways (example distance learning), increase communication and transparency (board docs), enhance safety of students and staff, capital projects to fix, maintain and improve the district's facilities  along with enhancing athletic opportunities. I have decided to seek another term of office to see many of these projects through.

‘I truly appreciate the opportunity to serve on the Voorheesville Board of Education!’

From Canfora:

“I am a CPA for a large public accounting firm.

“I have lived in Voorheesville for 18 years.

“My wife and daughter are Voorheesville graduates.

“My son is currently a student in the high school.

“I have served on the Board for three years and have been a member of both the Facilities Committee and the Audit Committee for all three years.

“I look forward to perhaps serving on a different committee next year.

“One of my goals is to help the school community better understand the role of the Board of Education in the District.

Serving on the Board of Education is a community service role and I am grateful for the opportunity to use my education and experience to help the community I live in.”

Budget and capital project

Also on May 15, voters will be asked to decide on a $24.7 million school budget; a $7.7 million capital project; a new capital-reserve fund; and two new school buses for $178,000.

The budget, which is up about 2.2 percent from this year, was unanimously adopted by the school board in April .

To close a gap, Superintendent Brian Hunt recommended raising the tax levy to 2.5 percent (the original draft recommended a 2-percent levy).

The total tax levy for next year is estimated to be about $17.7 million.

For this year, the 2017-18 school year, New Scotland residents paid $18.98 per $1,000 of assessed value; in Guilderland, residents paid $24.61 per $1,000; and residents of Berne paid $29.06 per $1,000 of assessed value.

At the April school board meeting, to illustrate the tax-rate increase, a “true value” example was used, which was only an average – a generic model – and did not take into account issues that individual municipalities were dealing with, like Guilderland’s equalization rate.

This year, using true value, residents paid $18.60 per $1,000 of assessed value; next year, residents would pay anywhere between $19.09 and $19.20 per $1,000 of assessed value. Under this example, the increase in taxes on a $250,000 home would be about $20 per year.

The $7.7 million capital project includes, among other things, new boilers for both schools; an expansion and renovation of two high school Earth-science labs; a renovation of the middle school technology lab; a new roof on the older section of the elementary school; new windows in the older section of the high school; and an upgrade to the middle and high school fire-alarm system and emergency lights in the high school.

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