Middleburgh Central Board Race

Lawton, Snyder Eyeing One Seat on MCS Board

By David Avitabile

MIDDLEBURGH – Sean Lawton and Bonnie Snyder are vying for one seat on the Middleburgh school board in Tuesday’s district election.

They are running for a seat being vacated by Scott Van Kuren who is not running for re-election.

Sean Lawton

Mr. Lawton, who also ran for the school board last year, is a local business owner, and has children in the district.

“I believe parents need to be an active part in the process of their children’s education, so for the last year, after moving back in the district, I have put my money where my mouth is. This is the natural progression of wanting to be involved in their education,” he said.

“I have a great concern for the safety of our children and have made that evidently clear over the past year. However, I feel like the district has a lot of work ahead of them to make this district safer for our kids.”

Mr. Lawton said he has attended almost every school board meeting in the past year.

“I have brought up situations and concerns from both my perspective and from those who reached out to me with their concerns. I’m not afraid to speak up! I have worked in mediation throughout the past 20 years and I have organized volunteer teams as well.”

Several issues are facing Middleburgh Central School, Mr. Lawton said.

There has been “a massive decking in student enrollment. An approximate  300 student loss over the past 3 years! Why are we not more concerned about this? Why are we not looking into why this is happening?”

There are also pressures from the state level, he added.

There is “unrealistic expectations passed on through the NY state legislation. The move to all electric buses by 2032 is not feasible currently within this district. Early research has stated that there is not enough power supplied within the community of Middleburgh to just facilitate the charging stations for the bus garage. The infrastructure changes would be astronomical, not to mention the weight of these busses are almost as much as a typical fully passenger ladened 60-passenger bus. Are they going to be able to pass over some of our bridges? Who is going to be paying for all of the infrastructure changes?”

On the local level, Mr. Lawton said there is “a lack of community participation. 

“I believe there needs to be a more purposeful pathway to parental participation. I believe we need to be asking how can we get more of the community involved with what is going on in their school district.”

Bonnie Snyder

Ms. Snyder, a life-long resident of Schoharie County and is seeking her first term on the Middleburgh Central School Board. She has resided in the Middleburgh School District for more than 30 years. Her two children both graduated from the district with honors and participated in sports, musicals, band and clubs. 

Ms. Snyder is a former educator who retired from Schoharie Central School. She “values education and would like to continue her service to children and give back to a community that gives so much!”

She said that since she has “personal experience inside the brick walls as a teacher, I am prepared to tackle challenges as a board member. Students’ health, safety, and learning will be my priority. Every decision made will be based on what is best for students as well as fiscally responsible.”

Ms. Snyder also sees challenges facing the district.

“The greatest challenge currently in education is the learning loss, emotional damage and behavioral issues caused by Covid closures, and she has ideas to get students caught up again.”

She added that she believes “a solid education is a child’s startup in life, and a keystone for success. Equally important, a great school district is necessary for community progress. I will do what is possible as a board member to carry out this belief.”