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Candidate profile: Mary Jo Clemens-Harris, Barker School Board

School district: Barker

Age: 47

Town (current residence): Somerset

Current occupation and/or community involvement:

Optician at Brighton Optical in Tonawanda, volunteer animal foster with Diamonds in the Ruff, active in fund raising races including Hospice Gran Fondo and The Ride for Missing Kids as well as 5k and triathlon.

Number of years you have lived in the school district: 14

Incumbent: Yes

If yes, how long have you served on the school board? 3

Have you run for office before?  Yes

If yes, please list your election history:

School board

Please tell us about yourself.:

I am a 1986 graduate of Barker Central and am also raising my son, Wes, in the district. He will be starting high school in the fall.

Please describe the top issues facing your school district and how you would address them as a school board member.:

Finances are one of the biggest concerns facing district today. We as a district struggle with rising costs and less tax base. I feel that shared services is an effective way to mitigate some of the costs of running the district. It is not a be all or end all solution, but it is a start.

Do you think public education in New York is headed in the right direction? No

Please explain why, in 100 words or less:

I am happy with some of the changes the state has made with new testing and it not being tied to teacher evaluations but there is still much to be improved. Testing has become the main focus and not a simple diagnostic tool. Children need to be taught as individuals and not en masse. Standards need to be set but not in an all or nothing manner.

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