School districts across New York state are holding budget votes and school board elections today. In the Lockport City School District, four candidates are running for three open board seats.
Thomas Fiegl, Kevin Pratt and Board President John Linderman all currently hold seats on the school board and are running for re-election. Kyle Lambalzer hopes to win his first term on the school board.
Lambalzer, a registered nurse at Eastern Niagara Hospital, said after he had his children enter the school district he kept on thinking of things he would like to do differently, and he's decided he would like a seat on the board to possibly bring about those changes.
He said he's like to see increase transparency. He suggested that there should be a roundtable with parents about the budget to see how they feel about it.
Lambalzer also would like to see the district involve the science, technology, math and engineering (STEM) concepts more frequently throughout the students education.
"I'm an registered nurse and that's a STEM-based job. And the jobs available today that pay good wages are STEM based and that's only going to increase ... I think they should incorporate STEM more often and from preschool right on up to grade 12," Lambalzer said.
Lambalzer said he does not support the SmartSchools project and said it was the second biggest issue he heard about when knocking on doors.
"It seems as this camera system is like your neighbor who bought the $8,000 plasma TV, only two years later to see his neighbor buy the same TV for $2,000 because the technology improved. Any district in WNY could have gotten this grant and done this," Lambalzer said. "Why didn't Clarence do it. Why didn't Williamsville do it? Why didn't Orchard Park do it? Why did Lockport go out there when no other district said yes."
Linderman, who has served five terms, is seeking his sixth term on the school board.
He said he still has a passion for helping the students.
"I still have a passion for being involved with education. I believe that my kids have received a tremendous education in Lockport ... I do want to give back to the community and I also look forward to seeing through some of the projects that we've worked on," Linderman said.
Linderman said his message to voters is that he brings 17 years of experience.
"I have 17 years of service on the school board. I've seen times where we've had to cut program, close schools, cut staff. I've also experience time of kind of maybe the good times, where we had more wealth. I've seen a lot of different things over my 17 years. And I think I can provide guidance to the board, " Linderman said.
Linderman is fully supportive of the SmartSchool project and said he is always in favor of an initiative to enhance security for students and faculty.
Pratt, who has served two terms, is seeking re-election for his third term on the school board.
He said he joined the school board because after 30 years of working as a firefighter for the city, he felt that he needed to give back to the community in some way.
"I believe in community service. I spent 30 years working for the city, making my living working off the back of the taxpayers. I wanted to give something back. My idea of community service was to run for school board. I kind of generally with my spare time drift towards helping kids," Pratt said.
Pratt said he believes voters should re-elect him because he would like to continue the work he has been doing on the school board.
"I would like to be able to continue moving forward on building a responsible budget that allows our school children access to all different levels of pathways to graduation. I would like to continue that in that it's restricted with the tax cap," Pratt said.
Pratt said he is encouraged by the recently passed SmartSchools project.
Fiegl, who has served three terms on the board, said he still wants to serve on the school board because he believes education is the 'key to success," and he wants to continue improving the district's education.
He said people should re-elect him to the school board because he has shown his dedication to the district.
"I've shown my dedication to the Lockport School District. The number one priority in the district is the kids and everything that the school board has done since I've been on the school board has been directly towards the kids and it benefited the district," Fiegl said.
Fiegl said he completely supports the recently passed SmartSchools project.
Polls are open from noon to 9 p.m.