Tonawanda News

May 2, 2013

Five seek NT board seats

By Michael Regan
The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — Five people will seek two seats on the North Tonawanda Board of Education, with the deadline for petition submissions passing at 5 p.m. Wednesday. 

Art Pappas and Colleen Osborn, the incumbents, will vie to retain their seats when voters go to the polls on May 21, with three other first-timers, Susanne Williams, Robert Schmigel and Randy Bradt, set to challenge them for three-year terms. 

Patricia DiVirgilio, a district administrator, said six people had picked up the petitions during the last several months, while only one of the possible candidates failed to submit them with the required 100 signatures in time to meet Wednesday’s deadline. 

A public debate is still a possibility among the slate, though DiVirgilio said there is nothing officially planned at this juncture. Calls made to Superintendent Greg Woytila were not returned. 

Williams, 46, said her two children graduated from the North Tonawanda School District in 2010 and 2012, one of whom is deaf. The medical office manager said she saw first-hand the difficulties of bring a child with special needs through the education system, which led in part to her decision to run. She added that she was also encouraged to seek a seat on the board by “teachers and counselors.” 

“I was a parent in the district for nine years,” Williams said. “I have 15 years experience with special education. That’s where I can really help a lot of people.” 

Schmigel and Bradt could not be reached to comment Wednesday.  

Pappas is a retired teacher who spent 12 years on the board in the 1990s, 10 of which he had served as its president, before winning a seat again in 2010. He said his experience as a teacher and long-time member make him an asset to the board. 

Osborn, who became a board members in 2011, has three children in the district, and said she is a strong advocate for parents and seniors. 

In addition to the slate of candidates, voters will also vote on a board-backed budget for the 2013-14 school year. A $65,740,756 proposal was approved by the board in April, representing a 2.56 percent increase for taxpayers. 

A public hearing on the budget is scheduled for May 14. 

Contact reporter Michael Regan at 693-1000, ext. 4115.