By Kassie Parisi
CLIFTON PARK — Bill Casey, 12-year veteran of the Shenendehowa Board of Education, will be running for reelection to the board with a focus on bringing new energy into old issues.
Casey’s first term on the school board was in the late 80s. Since then, he said, many community issues, such as opioid addiction epidemic and student mental health, have bled over to become school issues as well. Coupled with a transformation of old issues are constant new ways for the public to access the board of education, which, in Casey’s opinion, means that the board needs to up the ante in how it responds to residents.
“People expect a lot from us,” Casey said.
If re-elected, Casey plans on continuing to tackle issues that are currently on the board’s agenda, such as figuring out what to do with the 32 undeveloped acres currently owned by the district by the Shen campus. In the recent fight over whether or not the district should be able to sell the land, Casey was an outspoken opponent against the sale, and has expressed that he would like to see the board enter into an agreement with the Town of Clifton Park to turn the land into a public park.
Casey would also like to see the board focus on pursuing any opportunity for the district to expand into the Town of Halfmoon, not because there is an immediate need for another school building he said, but simply because Halfmoon is a town that is quickly continuing to grow. He said he would also like to see the board discuss a possible full day kindergarten program for the district, citing the fact that Clifton Park has, in recent years, become a destination for young adults aiming to start families. Casey also wants to push forward with providing more for, and engaging with disabled students.
After serving on the board throughout the tumultuous land sale campaign, Casey has first hand experience in hearing concerns from residents that their opinions are going unheard. In order to rectify that, Casey would like to see the board start to hold regular informal public meetings in convenient locations, that don’t have an agenda, in which residents can come and speak with board members. Casey commended district Superintendent Oliver Robinson’s community conversations as steps in the right direction, but would like to see the board as a whole do the same thing.
The public want to be involved, he said, and the historic amount of over 7,000 voters who turned out to the land referendum was proof of that.
“It shows that when the public is engaged, they participate,” he said. “We can ask for people’s opinion, and we need to respect it and follow up on it.”
With two young grandsons, Casey has a vested interested in the district is also looking ahead to Shen’s future.
“I’m interested in where the school is going,” he said. “I’m more aware of the need for collaboration.” Going forward, he said, the board needs to be able to come together to take care of issues that will have a longstanding effect on future decades of students.
“We’re all in this boat together,” Casey said.
The school board election will be held on Tuesday, May 16. Casey seeks to fill one of two open seats that will be vacated in June.
The school board election will be held on Tuesday, May 16. Casey seeks to fill one of two board seats that will be vacated in June.