Voorheesville school board: Timothy Kremer

Timothy Kremer said his qualifications for school board come from serving and advocating on behalf of school boards since 1979. Kremer is the former executive director of the New York State School Boards Association, a job he held for 21 years. He previously spent 19 years at the Ohio School Boards Association.

Kremer and his wife, Jaye, have three sons who attended Voorheesville schools.

Kremer said one job of a school board member is to advocate for state and federal dollars, with which, as a former registered lobbyist, he thinks he can be helpful. 

On the finance question, while he can’t answer the question specifically, Kremer said he thinks everything is on the table. 

He thinks it will be a “really hard time” to be a school board member because members are going to have to provide some real strict policy and fiscal oversight, and make some tough decisions. 

In the short-term, Voorheesville is fortunate because there isn’t “a lot of fat” on its budget, Kremer said. There isn’t “a lot of wiggle room,” which is a good thing, because the district won’t have to make dramatic cuts. 

But he also thinks there will be lean budgets in the years ahead, and, if aid remains flat, then there will be issues. 

When Kremer led the state school boards association, one avenue recommended to rein in costs was to reopen union contracts, because 65 to 70 percent of a school budget is salaries and benefits. But he also makes it clear that a budget should not be balanced on the backs of teachers. 

Kremer would not advocate for going over the tax cap. 

He said that data shows it’s a near certainty that school budgets will pass if districts seek tax increases at or below the levy limit. Once it goes over the levy limit, only 50 percent of budgets pass, Kremer said. 

For many, he said, the tax cap has become a fait accompli; voters know there will be an increase, but at least it will be smaller than it used to be, which has had another consequence: Turnout at the polls has dropped. 

When he worked for the state school boards association, Kremer said he had issues with the tax cap, but he also said it’s one of those things that is painful to swallow but good for you because it’s fairly predictable.

On remote learning, Kremer said the feedback he’s received from some faculty, staff, and students is that some were “really embracing it,” while others were not, and there are some students who were having broadband-access and technology-access issues, which “make it almost impossible to suggest this is the way.”

A blended system, in person and distance learning, “might be in order,” he said, because the fears and “taboos” some may have had about distance learning may have been broken because school districts were forced, “in the heat of the moment,” to just make it happen.

Kremer said that he’s always believed the role of the school board is to provide a high-quality education at a cost the community can afford. 

On growth, he’s thrilled that people want to move to Voorheesville and attend its schools. Yes, there are costs associated with that, but there’s also an assumption those people moving to the district are property-taxpayers and supporters, who want what’s best for their kids. 

On the expectation that people moving to the school district would be willing or would be aware that they’d likely be paying close to the maximum levy limit increase every year, Kremer said, if those people were previous residents of New York State, it’s likely they were already paying at or near the levy limit, so paying for education in Voorheesville shouldn’t be anything new.

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