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Three Vying for Two School Board Seats

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On May 17, Ellicottville Central School District residents will have the opportunity to vote for two new members of the Board of Education.

The candidate receiving the highest number of votes will serve a five-year term beginning on July 1, 2016 and expiring on June 30, 2021. The candidate receiving the second highest number of votes will serve a three-year term beginning on July 1, 2016 and expiring on June 30, 2019 (to complete the term vacated by the resignation of Michelle Cortez in May 2015).

Statements provided by the candidates and originally published in the May ECS Newsletter are reprinted here with permission.

Carl Calarco

My name is Carl Calarco. I am a 1989 graduate of Ellicottville Central School (ECS). I currently reside at 7100 Kent Road in the Town of Mansfield, along with my wife Kelly, our two children Allison and Christopher, and our two dogs Sasha and Buster. Both of my children attend ECS, where Allison is an eighth grader and Christopher a fourth grader. My wife Kelly has been an elementary school teacher for the past 18 years, and is currently employed by the Salamanca City School District. I am a licensed professional engineer, and have been working in the civil/environmental consulting field for the past 20 years. I currently own and operate CRC Engineering and Land Surveying, PLLC.

In 2011, you voted me in to my first ever term on the Board of Education. I must admit I was a bit nervous at the time as I had no idea what to expect, but I knew it was important for me to be involved in the education of my children. Having had a father that taught at ECS for 34 years, I was taught, and realized over time, the importance of education and am now trying to instill that importance into my own children. Being part of the Board has allowed me to be involved with not only the education of my children, but I have been able to be a part of this great educational progress that benefits all of our children.

The past five years have been exciting and incredibly rewarding. I have come to realize first-hand what a great, and very special district we have. The list of achievements continues to grow year after year, and can be attributed directly to the talented and dedicated staff at ECS, and to our great community. Look at any school district in this country, and the highest performing districts are the ones with the most community support. Our community support has been unprecedented, and the results are quite evident.

I am more driven than ever to do what I can to help our district maintain its high level of standards and expectations. We have achieved so many great things, but there is much more to be done. As such, I would very much like to continue my work on the Board of Education, and ask for your vote on May 17, 2016. Thank you.

Donnald Hensel

I am excited about the success and opportunities the Ellicottville Central School District has given my children and those of our entire community. I would like to serve on the board to help continue that success, but I believe we must be mindful there are some long term concerns we must address.

My wife Lori who is a 1985 graduate of ECS and I have lived in Great Valley since 2003. Our children Ginna, who is in 9th grade and Charlie, who is in 5th attend ECS. While we have only lived here for 13 years, my grandfather and his brothers owned and operated several farms in the 1950s and 1960s in Great Valley. I also trace my roots in the community to the Klawitter’s which is on my grandmother’s side of the family.

I hold a Bachelors degree from the University of Pittsburgh and a Masters of Science in Educational Administration from St. Bonaventure. I taught business and marketing education for 13 years in Salamanca before becoming the senior high school principal. I later served as elementary principal for 7 years before retiring this past January. I am a certified and licensed school building (principal) and district (Superintendent) administrator. Previously I owned several businesses in Salamanca including Broad St. Plaza. I have been associated with Recckio Real Estate and Development, which is a commercial real estate broker in Williamsville, since 1999.

As a parent of enrolled children, a taxpayer, former small business owner and education professional I have concerns about the long-term fiscal health of our district as impacted by New York State. The unfunded mandates are not only unfair but create a layer of failed policy that hurts students, teachers and impacts taxpayers.

I am concerned about the failure of New York State to update the Common Core curriculum rollout with the over use of testing that has no clear diagnostic purpose. I know our students and teachers want and will support honest testing that provide meaningful feedback to help them do a better job.

I am concerned about the declining enrollment of students in our district and region. I do not believe taxpayers can support 700 different school districts and over 20 different districts in our two counties. Yet we have to remain cautious to keep ECS independent.

Finally, I think term limits for board membership is essential. I believe five year terms are too long and there should be limits to the number of terms any one citizen can serve. Having new citizens serve on a regular basis is the best way to create accountability.

I also want to make a full disclosure. That if given the privilege to be elected, I will be absent from the July meetings due to prior family commitment. However, I will be in attendance as scheduled through the rest of the school year.

I want to thank the voters for considering my interest and I appreciate their support for all of the children and the betterment of our community.

Robert Van Wicklin

Bob Van Wicklin brings more than 20 years of government service and almost a decade of higher education administration experience to his candidacy for a seat on the Ellicottville School Board. He lives in the Town of Ellicottville with his wife Melanie, and daughter Samantha, an ECS 8th grader.

“Local control by dedicated members of our community on the board is critical to the continued success of Ellicottville Central School and its students, faculty, staff and administration,” Van Wicklin said. “Ellicottville is a tremendous school, and I would be honored to join the board to help ensure that our students are getting the best education possible to prepare them for life after high school — whether it’s college or a job — while introducing them to life-long pursuits such as music, the arts and athletics. We need to do all of this while making sure that we are efficient and good stewards of the tax payers’ money. My experience has prepared me to do this and I am up for the challenge.”

Van Wicklin is currently Vice President for University Advancement at St. Bonaventure University where he manages the departments of development and alumni relations, and is a member of the President’s Cabinet. He previously served as Vice President at Houghton College and as Assistant Dean at the University at Buffalo, where he was also elected to represent UB on the State University of New York’s Faculty Senate.

Prior to his work in higher education, Van Wicklin served as a staff member to two United States Congressmen who represented Ellicottville and the Southern Tier of New York in the U.S. House of Representatives in Washington, D.C. for 17 years. He started as foreign affairs and defense advisor and went on to serve as legislative director, press secretary and chief of staff to both Members of Congress. During his tenure, he traveled to more than 60 nations on official business with the U.S. government.

Van Wicklin, a veteran of the war in Afghanistan, was an intelligence officer in the United States Navy Reserve for nine years, including tours of duty at the Pentagon and the Naval Strike and Air Warfare Center, home of the Top Gun flight school in Fallon, Nevada. He was mobilized to Mazar-e Sharif, Afghanistan from March to September of 2014.

Van Wicklin serves and has served on several professional boards in Washington, D.C. and New York, and has twice been a Top 10 fundraiser in the annual Ride for Roswell Park Cancer Institute, in which he has participated with his daughter, Sammi, for the past five years.

He earned a Bachelor’s of Arts degree in International Studies and Political Science from Houghton College and a Master’s of Arts degree in National Security and Strategic Studies from the U.S. Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island.

Van Wicklin has been endorsed in his run for the Ellicottville school board by former U.S. Congressman Amo Houghton, current U.S. Congressman Tom Reed, New York State Senator Cathy Young and New York State Assemblymen Joe Giglio and Phil Palmesano.

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