This is the third in a series about the upcoming board election and budget vote on May 15. We'll also provide a candidate Q&A with the rest of the candidates, .
James B. Carroll, Jr., who lives in Cortlandt Manor, is running for his fifth term. He has served on the board for the last 12 years. Carroll works in pigment research at BASF Corporation and serves on the Management Policy Committee, Safety/Management Committee. His son graduated from the Lakeland school district three years ago and his daughter is currently a student at .
Patch: What's your greatest concern as a resident and a Lakeland Board of Education member?
Carroll, Jr.: A good education for all children is important. This includes opportunities for all levels of learning capability, in all grade levels. On the other hand, this must be achieved in an affordable manner. Costs must be controlled, but we cannot overlook necessary expenses such as capital investments, facilities maintenance, and appropriate personnel staffing. The latter is extremely important and the district has made strong advancement in this area over the past 12 years.
Patch: Why are you running for another term?
Carroll, Jr.: There is more work to do both in educational and financial programs in the district. To be successful, Lakeland Central School District will need a Board of Education that is result focused - note the lack of drama in LCSD, as well as the fact that we've weathered the financial storm that has hit other districts. My being re-elected will maintain the cohesiveness of the BoE to continue working towards our goals. I also enjoy the challenge.
Patch: What experience – either personal or professional – do you have that makes you a strong candidate to serve on the Lakeland Board of Education?
Carroll, Jr.: Professionally I have experience in facility, personnel and project management. Twelve years of experience on the BoE has shown me both the good and the bad which prepares me not to make the same mistakes we've made in the past.
Patch: What issues facing the district do you feel most strongly about?
Carroll, Jr.: The next few years will be critical for all BoEs in New York state to achieve educational goals while meeting state tax levy requirements and unfunded mandates from both the state and federal governments. Being successful in this environment requires understanding that the BoE is basically managing a company with many stakeholders and revenue of about $160 million. This has so far been achieved by understanding the long term financial picture as well as ensuring we have a capable administrative staff.
Contract management is also critical to our continued success both economically and educationally. This is a balance between attracting quality educators and staff, and taxpayer support, and can impact the district years into the future. This is probably the most important BoE actions especially in today's economic climate.
Patch: How do you think the recently mandated 2-percent tax cap will impact the future of education?
Carroll, Jr.: It depends on the district. In Lakeland Central School District we are financially sound but some other districts in the region continue to struggle. Overall I think it will force both BoEs to look at their programs in a more realistic manner, but it will be painful for the short term. This will result in some cuts for extravagant items, but it will also rein in the excesses of the educational machine. Many people talk about the mandates, and they need to be curbed.
However, the biggest impact of the 2-percent tax cap will be to force control of salary and benefit packages for the school systems which will align the educational system better with the real world the taxpayers live in. However, this will only happen when districts realize they cannot continue to make personnel and program cuts to meet the tax cap and begin to run their districts like a business.
Patch: What has been your biggest contribution to the Board of Education?
Carroll, Jr.: No one makes a single contribution - we are members of a team. My contribution has been to support actions I feel support the district and the taxpayers. I provide my views and debate with the other BoE members. We have many disagreements but arrive at a consensus.