Meet your local school board candidates

As citizens head to the polls next Tuesday, in addition to approving school budgets, citizens are also voting in new candidates for each district’s Board of Education throughout the county. The board of education for each district is made up of volunteer community members. Each member of the board is voted on publicly and serves, in most districts, a term of three years and in Afton a term of five years.


Running for the one available seat on the board this year is Margery Secrest, a 22 year veteran of the board and a 45-year resident of the district. She says she continues to run for the board because she is still concerned with giving children the quality education they deserve. She wants to maintain a quality learning atmosphere and she likes being involved in helping the district move forward.


There are currently three seats, with one rotating seat available and two candidates running for the position on the school board this year.

Barbara Renton, a 16-year resident of the district, has served the board for the past three years and says it is one of the best boards she has ever served on. She says she feels being part of the board is her way to give back to the community. She believes in the district and says everyone, from bus drivers to the administrative staff, devotes themselves to the welfare of the children. She also says she strongly believes that being a small school in a rural community can mean great things.

Nancy Hinkley has lived in the area for roughly 16 years and is running for her second term on the board of education. Previously, she had been appointed and has served a total of five years on the school board. Hinkley says she wants to continue to build community, district involvement, strengthen technology infrastructure and maintain fiscally sound budgets and programming.


Two current board of education members are running unopposed for the two available positions within the district. Joe Gonzalez a 10-year resident of the area is vice president of technology for PVS chemicals, a company specializing in environmental technology. He is also on the board of directors for Prosi-PVS Chemicals, a muti-national company with headquarters in Mexico. He carries a degree in business and a degree in chemistry. He says as a community member, taxpayer and parent of two children in the district, he feels the current system has done well at balancing the educational needs of their students and the financial means of the community. “I will do my best to provide direction supporting a high quality academic program with a high degree of fiscal responsibility,” said Gonzalez.

Mark Talbot, a 13-year resident of the area, together with his father, owns Certified Auto Outlet and Leatherstocking RV, both in Oneonta. He says he bring to the board, a strong sense of fiscal responsibility. He explains he has established good communication skills, which he says can help foster a positive working relationship between community members and the district. He says he feels his children have benefited from the education they received at the school and wants to ensure the same for future students.


Greene school board has three open positions and currently has five people running.

Christopher Cox, a 19-year resident of the district and current school board president, says he wants to continue to work with the district that he says is very productive. He says Greene is highly ranked among the DCMO BOCES facility, and he wants to keep improving in all aspects of the district.

June Cooper is a 50-plus year resident of the district and retired from a 35 year career in banking. Her financial background, she says, is an asset to the board. If elected, this will be her second term, and she says she likes working with children and staying busy.

Christopher Austin, a 35-year resident of the district, has been a member of the board for over 14 years. He says he is running to be an advocate for the children and because he has a passion for it.

Helen Hunsinger, a 45-year resident of the district, recently retired from Greene school district’s transportation department after 26 years. If elected, this will be her first term on the board. She says she is a proud resident of the community and a firm believer in Greene’s school system. She also says she has a sincere interest in the excellent reputation of the school and community and wants to continue with the success.

Timothy Regan is a three year resident of the district, and he says his years on the school board, on the village board and as mayor of Bainbridge will be an asset to the Greene school board. He is running for his first term on the board and says it is a way for him to give back to the community.


There are three candidates currently running for the two available positions.

Kathleen Coates, a lifetime Norwich resident, is finishing her third year on the board and is running again. When she is not at board meetings, Coates does photography for Made in Chenango. Coates says the school board has been moving forward and has come a long away in the last three years. “I want to continue to see the board move ahead, and I do not feel I am finished with what we started,” said Coates. She also says the district is centered around a strong family community, and she enjoys being a part of it.

Current Vice President of the board Robert Patterson is a 29 year resident of Norwich and has served the board for the past 9 years. Patterson says the district has been making progress, and he likes to keep board members on their toes. “I like to ask a lot of questions and get the board to really think about their decisions,” said Patterson. Patterson says he would like to focus on getting the community and parents more involved in the district’s decisions on a regular basis.

Brad LaPoint, a 7-year resident of Norwich, says having an extended background in finances may be an additional asset to the board. LaPoint has been a financial manager for OSG Pharmaceuticals for the past seven years and carries a 13-year background in the financial market. He explains his focus areas are fiscal accountability, using a scarce resource mentality, curriculum mixed with life skills and providing a safe learning environment.

Otselic Valley

After 10 years of service board of education member Dan Brown will be stepping down from his seat on the board of education, leaving the position vacant. There are currently two candidates for the position.

Dale (Suki) Fox has spent her life in the Otselic Valley area. Fox works at Valley Ridge CIT in Norwich as the Administrative Assistant to the business officer and is a volunteer firefighter with the South Otselic Fire Department. She is also a member of the South Otselic Fire District Board of Commissioners and the secretery/treasurer for the Maple Grove Cemetery Association. She says she is running for the position because she feels people who want to address the issues of the district need to be involved to do so. She explains she, as well as her daughter, had positive experiences at the school, and she wants to continue that for future students.

Loren Larkin is a 14 year resident of Otselic Valley and says her three years of experience working as the district computer technician enabled her to see the need to balance educational needs with costs. She says she is familiar with the physical aspects of the school as well as the work environment.

“As a parent, my focus is to provide an education for all of our students and to build a school system where excellence is the norm,” said Larkin.


There is one seat available with two people running for the position. Life-long resident William Golden says he believes in the school district, but says he also believes the district has gone downhill. “I think the board has gone sour. I think the board forgot what they are there for,” he said. He explains he wants to invest his time to see the district succeed and head in the right direction. “Myself, my parents, my children and now my grandchildren are attending the district, and I believe a sound education is the most important place to start,” he said.

Robin Debrita, a 25-year resident of the district, is running to serve another term in addition to the three terms previously served. Debrita is a credit manager and cost specialist for Amphenol Aerospace in Sidney. She says each year of service has given her the opportunity to learn more about public education. “I am excited to be running again, this is my way to give back to the community. The district is doing well, and I want to continue to see it strive to be even better,” said Debrita.


Five candidates are currently running to fill the five available seats on the board. With no real race at hand, each of the five candidates share why they chose to run.

John Brown is a 52 year resident of the district and has already served two terms on the school board. He says he enjoys being involved in school affairs and he thinks it is more important than ever today to keep kids in school and stay focused on education.

Stephen Harris graduated from Sherburne-Earlville and returned back to the area 14 years later with his family. He has served three terms on the board and says he brings experience and knowledge to the board. “I have been on the board the longest of any current member and my background of working in municipal government in the assessing field,” he said.

Thomas Morris is currently serving as an interim board member. This 16 year resident of the district says he is running to ensure the district’s focus on enabling each student to reach their personal success.

Tom Canton, a 7 year resident to the area and a three year member of the board, says he is concerned with the influence the No Child Left Behind Act and other data driven requirements has brought to the district. He says he wants to keep the board, as well as the community, in-line with what is happening throughout the district.

Patrick Dunshee is a 23-year resident of the district and will be serving his first term on the board. He is an engineer at Unison Industries and explains he thinks the Sherburne-Earlville district is great, and he wants to continue with its success.

Unadilla Valley

There are three people running for two available positions on the school board.

Stan Foulds, a current school board member, is running to serve a fourth term. He is a 22-year resident of the district and says he wants to continue to work with the board and move forward. He explains the board has come a long way, and they work well as a team and are eager to start working with the newly contracted superintendent for the district. He says he has learned a lot and is very interested in helping to provide a quality education for all students.

Brian Burchill is an 18 year resident of the district and has served on the board of education for three terms. He works at Preferred Mutual as a facility supervisor and is originally from South New Berlin. He says the board is moving forward and he wants to see it further advance. He says merger incentive aid is almost gone, and he would like to remain on the board to make the necessary adjustments. He also says he is anxious to work with the superintendent of the district.

Clifton Frink is also running for a seat on the board. If elected, this will be his first term. Frink was unreachable by press time.

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