Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake, NY residents elected two new school board members last week. One of them being Will Farmer, Vice President of Client Services right here at Creatacor. Will emerged as the victor in a very close race, which had three candidates for only two openings. With 3,045 voters casting their ballots, Will found himself to be the top vote getter, with only 20 votes separating him from his two other opponents.
I sat down with Will and asked him about his campaign, his expectations and his family now that he is a seat on the school board.
Q: What was your main reason for entering the school board race?
A: As a father and member of the community, the main reason I wanted to join the board centers on ensuring all children receive the highest quality education we can deliver. Before I had children, I thought all that was important were the “Three R’s”. In just the few years my son has been in school, I have come to realize the importance of a well-rounded education including physical education, music, computer lab, drama and art. Rather than sit on the sideline, I want to be part of continuing and improving on the excellent results Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake schools have achieved year after year.
Q: How did you campaign for the job and for how long?
A: I began my campaign in early March by going door to door introducing myself to the different neighborhood residents. I also handed out campaign business cards at school functions, put up signs throughout the community and stood on street corners with my son asking for votes. I also used Facebook to reach even more people in the district. I was amazed at how many people saw my information even if they had not joined my group. After I spoke with one of the high school teachers, I discovered that several upper class students had voted for me because they thought it was cool that a school board candidate was on Facebook. I can’t thank the students enough for voting and I am so glad to see their interest in the process.
Q: How much of your professional experience helped you with your campaign?
A: I attribute some of my campaign success to my marketing experience at Creatacor. Campaigning is marketing, so I think my experience with trade shows and marketing communications was a great help to me. Having children in only one of the elementary schools, I was at a disadvantage to the other candidates who had a broader network to get their message out. Using my knowledge of marketing techniques helped get me the extra votes I needed.
Q: What immediate impact would you like to have on the school district?
A: There is much to learn when serving on the school board so my immediate goal is to learn as much as possible, as quickly as I can. What I can do right away is serve as a conduit for the community because I think the school board members need to hear more from parents and community members.
Q: What are your long term goals for the school district?
A: I am concerned about the current budget cycles and how for two years we’ve cut programs and staff affecting all of our children’s school careers with not enough focus on how we can break this cycle. We are in challenging times and the answer every year can’t be a cut in services with a raise in taxes. No one is winning under this scenario and next year may be worse as the stimulus dollars will have evaporated. NYS spends one of the highest amounts per pupil in the country so we have enough money invested in education but it needs to be spent more wisely. We need to start looking at new solutions and that will be my goal.
Q: What personal attributes do you possess that will make you be a good school board member?
A: This is a volunteer position but when I take on any responsibility, I take it very seriously. I believe skills I have gained in my professional career, from budgeting to management to handling challenging assignments will serve the community well. As anyone who works in the event industry knows, if you can handle multiple clients, budgets and tight timelines, you can handle almost anything.
Q: How did your family feel about your victory and now involvement with the school?
A: My wife served as the campaign manager and she did an awesome job. She helped manage my Facebook account and fan page so I could maximize my visibility. She too is very involved with our children’s education and she wants to ensure we provide the correct challenge to each student. My two boys were great, handing out my campaign cards to classmates, teachers and bus drivers at every opportunity. The election was a family effort and they were very excited about our victory.
Q: What is your current assessment of the BH-BL school district?
A: BHBL is a great district with much to offer. We have an excellent graduation rate, high test scores and terrific extracurricular programs that have kept us as one of the top ranked districts in the Capital District (of New York State). We need to maintain this level of excellence, improve where we can and never settle or get comfortable.
Q: How would you complete this statement? If at the end of my term the education in Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake is [blank] then I’ve done my job.
A: … synonymous with measuring results not only on the district level as a whole but also based on each child’s success …
The Burnt Hills -Ballston Lake annual school budget comes in just over $53 million and serves approximately 3,500 students from kindergarten through 12th grade and over 260 teachers and administrators. There are 3 elementary schools, one middle school and one high school. Will takes his seat on the school board when the new board assembles in July.