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MORE CHANGES AHEAD AS BOARD VP BOWS OUT

The complexion of the Hamburg School Board is in line for a bit of a makeover -- with at least two new faces, and possibly more -- come the May 15 election.

It was announced this week that board Vice President Mark R. Walling is stepping down with one year remaining in his term. And board President Steven W. Hanson has announced he will not seek re-election.

In all, there is the potential for a turnover of up to four board seats. Board terms are also expiring for incumbent Trustees Andrew S. Loeb and Gary E. Vara. However, both Loeb and Vara said they plan to run for re-election.

The ballot will also feature a fourth board contest to fill the one year remaining in Walling's term. The other three seats each carry the traditional three-year terms, which begin July 1.

Walling's announcement to the School Board on Tuesday night took some by surprise. Walling said he had been considering resigning for a while to spend more time with his family.

"It's not a real exciting reason, but it's the real reason," he said Wednesday.

First elected in 1993, Walling is currently serving the second year of his third term. He plans to serve through the end of the school year in June.

"I think the district is in good shape now, and I feel great about where it's headed," said Walling, an attorney in Buffalo who is married with three children.

While on the board, Walling has focused on curriculum and long-range planning.

"This district is making strides in better alignment of curriculum," he said.

Hanson, who was first elected in 1995, announced that he will not seek another term this spring at the end of his second term. Hanson, a drug and alcohol counselor at Collins Correctional Facility, cited personal reasons.

"It's been a great six years with the district. We've done a lot with the bond issue with the new construction and hiring a new superintendent and a number of administrators, as well as state education initiatives," he said. "It's been a very busy and productive time."

Meanwhile, Vara and Loeb both said they will make another run for the board. Loeb, first elected in 1994, is a tax examiner for the Internal Revenue Service.

Vara, a teacher at Frontier Middle School and a longtime coach at Frontier and East Aurora schools, is seeking his second term on the board.

Nominating petitions for board candidates are available at the district clerk's office beginning March 5. The deadline for petitions to be submitted with 30 required signatures is 5 p.m. April 5.

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