Niskayuna school board candidates address district residents

Niskayuna School Board candidate Kimberly Tully speaks in the auditorium Tuesday, May 3, 2022.

Niskayuna School Board candidate Kimberly Tully speaks in the auditorium Tuesday, May 3, 2022.

NISKAYUNA – In front of only about 30 people, three of the four people running for Niskayuna Central School District school board spoke on the reasons they are running and addressed five questions asked by the Niskayuna Parent-Teacher Council, which hosted the meet the candidate night. 

Candidate Judy Tomisman was not in attendance due to being sick with COVID. She conveyed her apologies in an email. 

“I was disappointed to miss out on this opportunity to engage with voters, but I hope to be back soon.” she said.

Tomisman, a 30-year resident of Niskayuna, is seeking her first term to the board, according to a letter sent by the district regarding candidates and the school budget. She is an employee at the state Office of Children and Family Services. She has volunteered for various organizations like the Niskayuna Community Action Program. She has four children, all Niskayuna High School graduates. 

Elisabeth “Libbie” Cococcia, a 20-year town resident, is seeking her first term to the board, according to the district letter. She is an electrical engineer, having previously worked for General Electric. She is also the vice president of fundraising and co-president of the Birchwood Parent-Teacher Organization and also serves on the Iroquois PTO. She also volunteers for organizations, including the Niskayuna Farmers’ Market where she is the chairperson. She and her husband, John, have two children. 

Kimberly Tully, a 17-year resident of the town, is seeking her second term, according to the district letter.  She is currently the president of the board. Tully is the director of educational advisement at Tully Rinckey PLLC. She has volunteered as a humane law enforcement officer with the county SPCA. She and her husband Matthew have three children.

Joseph P. Drescher, a five-year resident of Niskayuna, is seeking a first term on the board, according to the district letter. He is an associate attorney for Mack & Associates, PLLC where he practices family law. Drescher is co-president of the Van Antwerp Middle School PTO and is a volunteer firefighter with Niskayuna Fire District 2 where he was formerly a fire captain and president. His wife is a sixth grade English teacher at Van Antwerp. 

Each candidate explained their motivation for serving on the school board. Cococcia wants to be on the board because she has kids in the district. “I think I have a good grasp on where the needs are, what we’re doing that’s right, where we can do things a little bit better,” she said. 

Drescher, who is bi-racial, said he will bring diversity to the board.  “We’re a district that is very diverse and it’s so great that we’re diverse,” he said. “The school district is a microcosm of our greater society and society thrives when we have diversity and we all have a place at the table,” he said. 

Tully said being on the board gives her an opportunity to impact the education of students in the district.  “I believe that over the past three years as a current board member I have been able to prove my ability in the role,” she said. “I am a collaborative board member. I always listen to all perspectives and viewpoints.”

Tomisman responded via email and said given her roles serving on boards such as Prevent Child Abuse New York, The Niskayuna Community Foundation and Niskayuna Community Action Program she will ask “tough questions” about the budget to ensure there is clear communication regarding the districts budget. 

She said she will aid in making sure all of the necessary tools are provided to the new superintendent, Carl Mummenthey, who she looks forward to working with if elected.

The four candidates are vying for one of the three available seats, which will be decided in the May 17 election.    

In addition to selecting three new board members, voters will also vote on the $99,853,607 budget proposal, which was unanimously approved by the Board of Education.

According to the school’s website, the proposed budget continues all current student programs and services and funds staff additions that are critical to meeting student and operational needs.

The 2022-23 budget proposal also calls for a tax levy increase of 2.87% percent, which is the district’s limit for next year based on the state’s tax cap formula. Because the district is not exceeding the cap, the support of a simple majority of voters (50% plus one) is needed for the budget to be approved. 

Reporter Shenandoah Briere can be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at SB_DailyGazette. 

Categories: News, Schenectady County, Your Niskayuna

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