Oswego School Board Candidates Questioned

OSWEGO, NY – Four of the five candidates for the three Oswego school board seats fielded questions from the public Monday night.

The Home and School Associations of the school district and the Oswego Classroom Teachers’ Association hosted a “meet the Candidates” forum at the Oswego Middle School Theater. Less than two dozen people attended.

Ben Halsey, superintendent of the Oswego City School District, provided a brief review the 2014-15 school budget prior to the forum.

Thomas Dehm, John Dunsmoor, Brian Haessig, Michael McLaughlin and Samuel Tripp are seeking election in the May 20 vote.

The terms of incumbents Dunsmoor, McLaughlin and Tripp expire on June 30.

The three candidates receiving the most votes on May 20 will serve three-year terms and will take their oath of office at the reorganizational meeting in early July.

Dehm was unable to participate in Monday’s forum.

Some of the questions the candidates had to deal with were:

What do they think about the NYS modules.

“We don’t want our teachers to be threatened by it,” Dunsmoor said. “We want them to get better.”

“The common core is a good thing, in itself. The thing I have a problem with is forcing everybody to be on the same page, doing the same thing at the same time,” Haessig said.

“They tried to roll it out to fast and didn’t give enough time for everyone to get familiar with it,” McLaughlin said.

“I’ve heard nothing but bad things about them,” Tripp added.

Why are they running for election?

Haessig said he wants to use his experience to help make things better for students and teachers.

McLaughlin also said he wants to share his experience and expertise.

“The short answer is I care,” Tripp said. “I don’t believe money makes excellence; I believe people make excellence.”

Dunsmoor said he is proud of the district and committed to seeing things get better.

How would they build community support?

Honesty, McLaughlin said.

Communication and transparency, Tripp said.

Through integrity and hard work, Dunsmoor added.

“Listen and learn from others. We need to involve all stakeholders in the community to help the school district become better,” Haessig said.

All four of the candidates present were in favor of maintaining smaller class sizes.

They are also in support of the Big Picture School program.

“It’s a good concept. There are some changes that need to happen,” Dunsmoor said. “I think a lot of those changes will happen.”

The students that did go to the Buc School seem to be successful, Haessig noted. “The solution that the present board has created seems to be a positive move to help continue that success n a different setting,” he said.

“I’m in favor of the school. But, we needed to make changes,” McLaughlin said.

Tripp said he was impressed with the Buc School. “It seems that we have a habit of coming up with these good programs for our kids and then they seem to go away for whatever reason,” he said. “I think the Buc School is going to be alright.”

The superintendent pointed out that if the budget is voted down and the district has to go to a contingency budget, none of the cuts would be restored – and that includes the Buc School. In fact, he said, the district would have to make further cuts.

When asked what makes them the best candidate, McLaughlin replied his experience working in the district and his time on the board.

Tripp said all the candidates are good for willing to put themselves out there. He added that he does his homework and researches topics. “I work hard and I’m a team player,” he said.

“Sam’s talking about me,” Dunsmoor quipped. He also pointed to his experience and work ethic to do what’s right for the entire district.

All his years of teaching and interaction with student give him the experience to be a good board member, Haessig said. “It’s always been a goal of mine to have as much input as I can into seeing our district improve.”

The vote on the budget and school board elections will be held May 20 between noon and 9 p.m.