BKW candidate: Nathan Elble

Nathan Elble

Nathan Elble

HILLTOWNS — First elected in 2016, Nathan Elble, 39, is currently serving as president of Berne-Knox-Westerlo’s Board of Education.

His wife of almost 14 years, Carli Elble, was a year-long substitute teacher for BKW during the 2018-19 school year, and the couple has four children, all of whom are enrolled in the district. 

Elble works as a union electrician with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 236. He’s also involved with his children’s Little League and is a director at large with Helderberg Family and Community Organization, a not-for-profit that aims to support local children and families. 


Going forward

On the issues the school board will face in the next three years, Elble homed in on the precarious nature of state aid, which may be cut drastically for schools as a result of the coronavirus pandemic’s devastation of the United States economy, and the potential downsides to remote-learning as the school accommodates new health concerns. 

“Up front and center will be budgeting and aid,” Elble said. “I know, for instance, this year our budget has been very difficult to kind of nail down. It’s been a moving target that the governor and the state has given us with the potential aid reductions coming up, and not knowing what those potential aid reductions are going to be is going to be really difficult to deal with.”

The state budget deal allowed Andrew Cuomo three “look-back” periods, where, based on revenue, he could adjust the amount of money sent to public schools. 

As for remote learning, Elble is concerned that, without a traditional school environment and in-person facetime with teachers, kids will have to shoulder even heavier burdens of inequity, but added that the health and safety of students remains a crucial point of focus.

“I think [remote learning] also broadens the discrepancy between the haves and the have-nots,” Elble said. “The students that have a solid, supportive homelife and those that don’t. Those that have access to … fast and reliable internet and those that don’t. This lack of face-to-face time with teachers and staff is really going to expand on those discrepancies.”



Elble told The Enterprise that he was happy with the 2020-21 budget given the circumstances, but regretted that layoffs had to be made.

“Most of what we have left is really necessary for our students’ success,” Elble said. “Dr. Mundell was very meticulous in how we planned this budget, and luckily the majority of the layoffs weren’t really layoffs — they were lost through attrition. We just decided not to rehire a position that was being vacated.”

Mundell told The Enterprise earlier this month that a secondary English teacher, two tutors, and an aid were laid off. A bus driver, maintenance/operations worker, and teacher’s assistant all retired this year, he said, and another teacher’s assistant resigned.

“I applaud Mundell for ... approaching his budget preparation the way he did,” Elble went on, “and being, I think, an out-of-the-box thinker for a lot of things. It’s hard to say because, going forward, we don’t know what else is going to come down on us. But I feel like we’re in a really solid position to handle whatever reductions and cuts come our way.”


Chain of command

Elble said that, throughout his tenure on the board of education, his community involvement has made him accessible to taxpayers who want to voice their concerns outside of board meetings, and that, with the closures caused by the pandemic, he’s taking a lot more calls.

“Up until this COVID-19 pandemic, I was very out and about at a lot of different functions,” Elble said. “ … Those were basically how I would make my time available to talk to the public. I’m fairly approachable. Most people at those gatherings know who I am and if they have an issue they’re more than welcome to come and approach me about it. 

“It’s been more difficult since we’ve had this lockdown,” he continued. “Obviously we haven’t had Little League, we haven’t had in-face meetings … I’ve seen a lot more text messages come from the public to me, some phone calls — more than usual. More than it has been in the past. I know some other board members, they receive more phone calls and more emails than they do the face-to-face communication. So it’s kind of a blend of what works best for you as far as the best way to go about communicating with the public.”

Elble said that, because the superintendent is so community-oriented, there isn’t much friction between the elements of school government. 

“I think maybe there are those in the community who disagree with some of Dr. Mundell’s decisions,” Elble said, “but ultimately, everyone has the same interests: To produce the best students we possibly can with the resources that we have … I again would applaud Dr. Mundell for doing that. We are in a much better place than we were six or seven years ago before he came.”

Elble concluded, “I don’t believe that he has a difference of philosophy or difference of interest for the community as a whole and his own interest.” 

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