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Introducing.. candidates for Albany School Board

October 19, 2011

by Marissa Kilkenny

City residents met three candidates running for the two open positions on the Albany School Board Tuesday night at Albany High School. The three candidates were Melissa Mackey, Ginnie Farrell and Sue Adler.

About 40 people attended the presentation sponsored by the Albany Council PTA and the League of Women Voters, which promotes voting and citizen participation.
Melissa Mackey, an incumbent, has been on the board since 2007. She describes this position as a, “calling for me.” Mackey, the mother of two daughters in the district is the Research Director for the New York State Defenders Association.  Mackey prides herself on the experience she has gained already being a member of the board. She is most adamant about “closing the achievement gap” and researching and obtaining as much data as possible.

Farrell and Mackey during the forum.

“Data drives decision making,” Mackey said. One concern Mackey had involved the preparation of Albany students for college and the work place. Mackey said that it’s not enough to get the graduation rate to improve the dismal graduation rate at the high school, but to get students into college after graduation.  She also said that when one of her daughters asked why she wanted to run for reelection her response was, “why wouldn’t I?”

Candidate Ginnie Farrell was born in Philadelphia.  Her husband and she moved to Albany to raise their family after they had their first child. Since then, Farrell has been vice president and president of the Albany City Council PTA and has helped out at her children’s school, Montessori Magnet School.
“If our schools succeed our city will thrive,” said Farrell. She said that it would be a long road ahead but that everyone can make a difference. She said the role of school board member requires hard work and love, two qualities she said she possesses.  She also said the district needs to implement a strategy to work within the confines of its $200 million budget.

Sue Adler, a practicing attorney, also serves on the Albany High Restructuring Committee and the Albany High Curriculum Sub Committee.  Adler has two sons. Her one son is a junior at Albany High.

“A community is only as strong as its public schools,” said Adler. As a member of the board she said she would represent all the parents and students as well as the community. Adler is determined to reach out to businesses in the community as well as be an advocate for Albany’s fair share of state funding. One thing that Adler doesn’t stand for, and spoke strongly about, is the effect charter schools have on the Albany district.

Adler and Farrell during the meeting.

“They take our money and send back our children,” said Adler.  She also states that they don’t have as much crowding as public schools but receive the same tax dollar. This is another reason why Adler says it is important to focus on the fair share of state funding.
Each candidate expressed the same eagerness, when asked by the mediator, about the idea of moving the school.

Another community member who shared similar feelings about Adler’s theories of charter schools was, Kathleen Neuffler.  Neuffler, a teacher in Greene county, attended the meeting.  She is the mother of two students who went through the Albany school systems and she still attends the meetings.
Neuffler was receptive to the idea of Albany High moving to the uptown Harriman State Office campus, an idea floated in the morning’s newspaper.

It would take much planning, financing and listening to all aspects of the community.  “Where and how has to be a community decision,” said Neuffler. -30-


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