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Serving the communities of Massena and Potsdam, New York

Three candidates seek vacant seat on Salmon River school board

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FORT COVINGTON - Three candidates are vying for a vacant seat on the Salmon River Central School Board of Education in a special election being held on March 19, the same day district voters are determing the fate of a proposed $36.6 million capital project.T

The candidates include the district’s former chief fiscal officer, the director of SUNY Potsdam’s Center for Diversity and an Alcoa employee offering fresh blood and fiscal conservatism as the keys to his platform.

Christopher Nye

The 42-year-old attorney says his current profession along with prior experience as Salmon River’s chief financial officer make him uniquely qualified to serve as a board member.

“I have an understanding of the law and education. I’ve worked in school finances for this district and served on the board for seven years,” the 1989 Salmon River graduate said, adding that he doubled as the board of education clerk during his seven years as CFO.

Mr. Nye said, if elected, one of his goals will be to improve sharing of information within the district as well as with the community.

“I will encourage open and honest communication between the school district and the community we serve. I believe it is the school district’s duty to earn the trust of the community,” he said in an email.

During a phone interview earlier this week, he stated that he wants to foster “more open and honest communication between administrators and teachers about their needs.”

Mr. Nye said that Salmon River teachers “do a good job with the resources they have,” but he would like to see the district do more to connect them with their community and its history. He cited as an example his Fort Covington home, which was part of the Underground Railroad. He said fourth graders from Holy Family Elementary School in Malone toured the home as part of a field trip, but Salmon River has never requested the same opportunity.

“Why not do a tour like that – connect the student to their community? It’s simple and low-cost,” Mr. Nye said.

He resides with his wife, Shannon, and their two school-aged children.

Jacques Leduc

Mr. Leduc says he is running because he feels it is time for new blood to bring a fresh perspective to the board.

“I feel it is time for the next generation to step up and get involved,” the 29-year-old wrote in an email. “I have young children, one about to reach school age., I have a vested interest in ensuring our children receive a quality education.”

Mr. Leduc said his platform revolves around “fiscal conservatism.” He said staying afloat financially is critical, given the current economic climate.

“Salmon River, like all districts, is forced to comply with state and federal mandates and education standards while remaining within the tax cap and keeping the tax burden at a minimum,” he wrote in an email. “It is my goal to balance the needs of the students with the needs of the taxpayers.”

He said he feels the board isn’t so much in a position where it needs to change as it is to adapt to the constant changes that are presented to it.

“As a board member, it would be my job to make ... the right decisions for the district and the taxpayers, and to ensure all decisions are made only after all necessary information is gathered, discussed publicly (unless the subject matter falls under the guidelines for a legal executive session) and properly considered,” he wrote.

Leduc resides in Bombay with his wife, Pamela, and their two children. He is employed by Alcoa in Massena.

Sheila Marshall

A longtime professional with affiliatiations with the Salmon River district, Ms. Marshall says her tenure as a board member would revolve around something with which she already assists the district and its students: goal-setting. The director of SUNY Potsdam’s Center for Diversity and formerly employed in the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe’s higher education program, she says she has worked closely with college-bound students for years and has a good idea of what they need before getting to that stage.

She said she feels the board has done a good job for the most part with meeting its goals for the previous school year and she would like to be a part of writing and working toward the next set of challenges.

“I think they had achieved many of them, and I think there’s a few that are a work-in-progress,” she said in a phone interview. “I think they’re heading in a positive direction. I think the atmosphere at the school is positive, and I’d like to be a part of that.

“I will continue to assist the Salmon River school board with the process of planning and goal-setting,” she wrote in an email. “The process in particular establishes the vision for education in our district.”

The 57 year old resides in Akwesasne and is a 1973 Salmon River graduate.

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