OSWEGO, NY – “The first thing I want everybody to know is, I am not a politician,” Bill Myer said.
He is one of five candidates seeking three seats on the Oswego school board in next month’s elections.
He has worked in the school district for 31 years; and is retiring this (school) year.
“Over those 31 years I have seen, what I’ve felt were poor decisions; too much spending, money wasted,” he told Oswego County Today recently.
Regarding this May’s proposition to buy new school buses, he said you are actually spending money to save a lot of money.
“It’s not a waste. You’re reducing the maintenance costs, reducing the fuel costs,” he said.
The district is about 20 buses behind because of decisions over the past 10 years or so not to update the fleet, he noted.
If they had stayed the course, they wouldn’t have a good part of the bus fleet that is 15 years old or older – with a ton of miles on them, he added.
“I have been a mechanic, head mechanic, for 28 years, I worked at the (district) warehouse (maintenance) for three years, so I pretty much know the transportation department,” he explained.
There are certain things he doesn’t know about.
“If you don’t know something, you’ve got to go out and learn. That’s what I’m willing to do. I have already gone out and talked to people like (assistant superintendent) Cathy Chamberlain and said hey if I get elected do you have a problem meeting with me? And, she said she’d welcome a meeting,” he said.
“My platform is simple. It’s you have an obligation to provide the highest possible level of education that you can to our children. The other obligation is to supply that level of education with the minimal amount of expenditures so as not to over-burden the taxpayers any more,” he continued. “You have two obligations, one to the children and one to the taxpayers. Today’s economy is really tough. So, you have to work to find a balance that works best for both sides. When they vote someone into office, the people of this district expect they are going to work for them to not only supply the highest level of education but to look out for the taxpayers and say how can we do this as efficiently as possible?”
That means you’ll have to do some leg work; if you don’t know about the schools, what condition they are in or what condition the buses are in – you have to get out there and find out yourself, that’s your job, that’s what you were elected to do, the candidate said.
The school board is the CEO of the company, according to Myer.
“If the CEO of the company doesn’t know how things work, where are you going?” he asked rhetorically.
“You’ve got to know all the aspects of a company you’re trying to run and it is the same way with the school board. I’ve seen a lot of school board members through the years, they’ve had something, they have an agenda, they want to save the band or they want to save the football team or they want to save something. That’s fine, I can understand them wanting to go to bat for those people,” he said. “But, there is more than that to the school district. You have to keep the big picture in mind.”
For example, he points to a move this year to cut the literacy programs.
“Oswego County is not exactly the most literate county in the world. So what are we doing? We’re doing away with literacy. I am not sure the board members really know what the literacy coaches do,” he said. “These kinds of cuts undermine the foundation of the program. Kids have to know how to read, and comprehend what they’re reading, and the teachers need to know the best ways of teaching these kids.”
Myer says he would bring a different look, different perspective to the school board than what they’re seen in recent years.
“Anybody that knows me, knows that I will listen. I listen to everybody and that’s the important part,” he said. “You have to listen and try to comprehend what people are trying to tell you. You listen by going out and talking to people.”