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New Scotland Archives The Altamont Enterprise, May 12, 2011
Donald Kawczak Jr.
By Saranac Hale Spencer
Donald Kawczak Jr. doesn’t like the direction of the current school board, so he’s running for one of three seats in the May 17 election. Kawczak would listen to taxpayers, he says of what he would bring to the board.
He supports the district’s $87 million budget proposal, he said, since the board made some cuts to the current year’s budget, making it $1.5 million lower than the current year’s spending plan.
“Next year’s going to be tougher,” he said of putting together the budget. Since salaries and benefits are the bulk of the annual budget, about three-quarters, he said of the school board, “They need to get a handle on salaries in this district.”
Of staying below the governor’s proposed 2-percent cap on the tax levy, Kawczak pointed out that the proposed budget carries a 2-percent increase. He added, “Next year, we can’t just keep closing schools,” alluding to the closure of Clarksville in the coming budget year.
Whether or not 60 percent of voters agree to a tax-levy increase beyond 2 percent would depend on what’s on the chopping block, he said, explaining that people would probably be likely to accept a higher increase if sports, for example, would be cut without it.
Raises every year shouldn’t be a guarantee, Kawczak said, suggesting that raises for teachers could be based on performance and used as a reward. As a worker in the town of Bethlehem’s public works department, he doesn’t get a guaranteed raise each year, Kawczak said, adding that, if the community can’t afford to give raises, school employees shouldn’t get them.
If the district needed to close Clarksville’s elementary school because it couldn’t be sustained, he’d support the decision, Kawczak said, concluding, “I disagree that the school couldn’t be sustained.” He went to Clarksville Elementary and his daughter was a kindergartener there this year. He expects that the district will reopen the school within a couple of years because of new developments in the town and crowding in other schools.
Without hesitation, Kawczak defined the role of a school board member as representing taxpayers. The board is “basically there to keep the administration in line,” he said, and to bring ideas from the public into the school.