Niagara Gazette

March 31, 2013

GUEST VIEW: Falls school board candidate offers education experience

By Ron Barstys
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — It is with much enthusiasm that I announce my candidacy for school board member of the Niagara Falls City School District.

As a former educator in the district, a husband to a teacher, and a father to a son who attends a neighborhood school, I have many reasons to invest my time, knowledge, and expertise regarding education in an effort to address the fiscal constraints and educational challenges faced in New York state by advising the Niagara Falls City School District as a board member.

I have been in the education field, quite literally, since I was 5 years old. Obviously, my path started with kindergarten, through college, graduate school, and into a career in education. I have a bachelor’s degree in environmental studies from the State University of New York at Buffalo, along with a master’s of science degree in secondary teacher education, and a master’s of science degree in school district administration & supervision - both from Niagara University. I am a New York state permanently certified secondary science teacher and permanently certified as a school district administrator. I have been born, raised, educated, and employed in Western New York.

I have taught earth science, environmental science, and living environment classes for this district. For two years, I was elected by my peers to be a Dean of Students at Niagara Falls High School. I was elected to a third year, but was instead appointed by the former superintendent to the Administration Building. The following five-plus years I was assigned to work on curriculum and assessments, oversee grants, substitute for school principals, act as a liaison to the United Way, represent the district as a member of the Niagara Falls Community Partnership for Youth, and was an integral part of the District’s large-scale consolidation in 2008- just to name a few responsibilities. I have also been both a Building Representative and Secondary Director for the Niagara Falls Teachers Union. I have five years of highly successful head coaching experience at the varsity level, and I am a 2008 Leadership Niagara graduate.

Half-way through my 13th year in the NFCSD, I left to become the Director of Student Services for the North Tonawanda City School District. In my current position, I act as the District’s Committee on Pre-School Special Education Chairperson, Section 504 Compliance Officer, Attendance Officer, Civil Rights Officer, Title IX Officer, Complaint Officer, Residency Officer, HIPAA Officer, FERPA Officer, Dignity for All Students Act Coordinator, Grant Coordinator, English as a Second Language Coordinator, Home Instruction Coordinator, McKinney-Vento Liaison, and Alternative High School Administrator among many other duties. I also oversee school counselors and nurses, as well as social workers, speech therapists, remedial teachers, and school psychologist along with the Director of Special Education.

I am happy to say that I received my tenure at this position this past January. With this security and my family’s support, I decided to run for one of the two open board member seats. Our family highly values a quality education and educators. I am a 40-year-old father of one son, Ryan, who attends GJ Mann and husband to Christine Barstys - a highly talented, respected, and often requested English teacher at Niagara Falls High School. She, too, has been in education her whole life, has been teaching for 15 years, is tenured, and a past Channel 2 News and New York State Lottery Educator of the Week. I mention this because as an administrator, I often look to my family to provide realistic and practical feedback for new programs, educational strategies and technologies.

As a board member, I will no doubt be an asset to those already serving. For instance, I am trained as both a teacher and principal evaluator in the new evaluation system. I can be instrumental when the district’s administration is asking the board to consider how a teacher’s APPR is affected by his/her SLO with State Provided Growth Measures versus a teacher without an SLO, but instead, Value-Added Growth Measures, and their effectiveness in implementing the new CCSS in getting their students ready for the PARCC. Despite the confusing jargon and endless stream of acronyms, I’ll know exactly what they are talking about and will be ready to assist the rest of the board in discerning which teacher is the better of the two, and therefore, who is best to suited to increase student achievement for (potentially) the next 30-plus years.

Clearly, education has seen significant changes over the past few years. Indications are that this is a trend that we can expect to continue and should even encourage, as it is vital that students have access to an education system that is responsive to the fluid world of which they are a part. In order to best serve our school system, its many interrelated components need to be monitored, evaluated and, at times, adjusted. As I have demonstrated, I have a unique set of skills and experiences to accomplish these tasks. It is my job as a school district administrator to keep pace with these changes and as a potential board member, to pass on the knowledge and updates, and help guide the implementation of these changes from experience.

From fiscal responsibilities to curriculum and assessment; from teacher and principal evaluation to special education; from the classroom to the administration building; and from unions to contracts - there isn’t a part of public education that I do not have direct and intimate knowledge of. With your votes, I will be able to put a lifetime of experience to work for you and the children of our community.

Ron Barstys is a Niagara Falls resident and candidate for the Niagara Falls Board of Education.