Lyndonville teachers’ union announces support for 3 candidates for BOE

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 6 May 2024 at 8:16 am

Provided photo: Lyndonville Teachers Association President Shane Price, left, is shown with candidates endorsed by the LTA, including Megan Bruning, Patrick Whipple and Matthew Heinsler. LTA Treasurer Tammy Mallon is at right.

LYNDONVILLE – The Lyndonville Teachers Association has announced its support for three candidates for the Board of Education who are challenging incumbents in the May 21 election.

The teachers’ union is backing Megan Bruning, Patrick Whipple and Matthew Heinsler.

The incumbents seeking re-election include Board President Ted Lewis and members Susan Hrovat and Steve Vann.

Lyndonville Teachers Association issued a statement, saying it endorses Bruning, Whipple, and Heinsler “who are pro-teacher and are willing to collaborate with teachers, staff, students, parents and the community toward overall student and district success.”

The LTA said the three endorsed candidates “are committed to an atmosphere of teamwork where all constituents play a role in decision making and achievement of the district vision for the present and the future.”

The Lyndonville district newsletter includes statements from all six candidates.

Megan Bruning works full-time and two kids in the district. She works as a technical writer for Baxter Healthcare in Medina.

“I represent so many families in this district that battle the balance of work, life, school, finances, parenting and all the other dramas that come with being alive,” she states in the school newsletter. “I have a perspective that I feel is not currently represented at the district level.”

Bruning would like to see more efficient communication from the school district, rather than parents “digging through backpacks to find crumpled up papers of school events.”

She wants to see Board meeting agendas, minutes and highlights more conveniently available and accessible to all of the community.

“There are some frustrations within the district,” she said. “Although, I may not have the magic to fix it all, I have a perspective and experience that can help us drive toward improvement.”

Matthew Heinsler is a squadron commander for the U.S. Air Force. He said he embraces the core values of “Integrity First, Service Before Self and excellence in all I do.”

He writes in the newsletter he wants to serve the people of the school district, and help create a better future for the district.

Patrick Whipple, PhD, is director of Professional Learning Services at Genesee Valley Educational Partnership. He also is a board member for the Lyndonville Area Foundation and a member of the Lyndonville Music Boosters.

Whipple wants more transparency, clear communication and “an unwavering dedication to continuous improvement.”

“Our educational landscape is ever-changing, and we must adapt and innovate to meet the evolving needs of our students, and prepare them for the challenges of the future,” Whipple said. “This means regularly evaluating our policies, practices, and outcomes, and being open to change when it serves the greater good.”

Hrovat, Vann and Lewis said they are looking to reduce the cost to the school district for health insurance.

“Together, we continue to learn about and find ways to improve the current system, which has locked the school into an expensive and difficult to change insurance plan,” Hrovat, a senior state parole officer, said in a message to voters in the school newsletter.

If the district’s health insurance plan was modified, Hrovat said it could enhance the current insurance and “save the community extensively, despite pushback from major players.”

Lewis has been the board president for the past 11 years and has been on the board for 15 years. He is retired as an Environmental Research Scientist and Associate Faculty member in the at SUNY Brockport.

Lewis said he is proud of the high-quality education at Lyndonville, including the district’s ability to continue in-person classes when some restrictions were eased in the Covid pandemic. Many districts had a hybrid schedule with students in-person some days and at home on others. Lyndonville was able to offer in-person all five days of the week for everyone during the 2020-21 school year.

“This achievement took strong local leadership from our Board of Education and Administrative team, as well as commitment and sacrifice from our teachers and staff,” Lewis said. “This is a shining example of what small town education with strong local control can accomplish.”

Steven Vann works as a president of J.S.C Management Group which operates many Burger King restaurants. He sees the small-school atmosphere as a great asset for the community and the top reason for the Lyndonville community to grow. However, Vann said the district needs to be sustainable for years to come.

Vann said his experience in business is an asset to the district in his role on the board – “from HR, construction, budgets, and ability to hold people accountable and ask tough questions.”

Vann pushed for changes in health insurance carriers, which he said would have saved the district $571,000 a year, reducing the tax levy by more than 10 percent.

“While my efforts failed to get this across the finish line, the efforts exposed the resistance of the administration to review other options,” Vann writes in the district newsletter. “The administration purposely delayed the endeavor, which ultimately could have cost us even more money.”

Voting for the board members as well as the district budget and funding for the library will be from noon to 8 p.m. at the Stroyan Auditorium Foyer.