Two of seven seats on Mohonasen’s Board of Education are up for election on May 21. Candidates run at-large and are elected to unpaid, three-year terms beginning July 1. The candidates are listed below in the order they will appear on the ballot.
Below are recordings of the Meet the Candidate’s Night on May 13. Read Deborah Escobar’s full opening statement here.
All information was submitted by candidates.
Deborah Escobar, of Palmer Avenue, Schenectady, is serving her first term on the board. A retired teacher, she has been a district resident for 42 years, is a mother of three adult children and is a grandmother to Mohonasen students.
Escobar graduated from Schalmont High School, Schenectady Community College, Russell Sage College and SUNY Albany.
She is a volunteer member/owner of the Honest Weight Co-op and is also on the Board for Retiree Council 10 of NYSUT and a committee person for the Schenectady County and Rotterdam Democrats.
“I have been an education activist since I retired from teaching in 2014. My experience on the BOE for the past three years has convinced me that my experience lobbying against the forces that weaken our schools serves me well as a member of the board. More now that ever, we need a political campaign to secure fair funding for Mohonasen from the state. I want to serve not only to protect my grandchildren who are Mohonasen students, but to stand up for all students and advocate for strong public schools.”
Jenna Coutant-Walker, of Lake Drive, Schenectady, is seeking her first term on the board. Coutant-Walker has lived in the Mohonasen district for 18 years, and is currently a customer service representative and camp counselor at Maple Ski Ridge in Schenectady. A recent Mohonasen graduate, she is currently enrolled at SUNY Schenectady. As of now, she will be graduating in the fall with an education transfer degree.
For the past three years, she has participated in the Rotterdam Town Band. She also volunteered with the Mohonasen Marching Band, as well as the Mohonasen Indoor Percussion Ensemble.
“As a proud graduate of Mohonasen, I believe that the younger generations in the Mohonasen school district deserve to have a voice. By educating these students, we are shaping the future. Despite my recent graduation, I believe that I hold a beneficial viewpoint to offer the Board of Education, as a former student and future educator. I advocate for student-centered practices where students are able to grow in an academically rich, nurturing and safe environment. It would be an honor to serve on the Mohonasen Board of Education and to have the opportunity to support my community and aid the upcoming generation in their future success.”
Tia Tocco, of Fiero Avenue, Schenectady, is seeking her first term on the board. Tocco has lived in the Mohonasen district for 19 years, and currently works at Scotia Cinema. A recent Mohonasen graduate, she is currently studying education at SUNY Schenectady. She plans to obtain a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education and special education through Cazenovia’s partnership with SUNY Schenectady.
Tocco plays the clarinet in the Rotterdam Town Band.
“I wish to serve on the Mohonasen Board of Education because, as a recent Mohonasen graduate, I feel as though I understand the lives of our current students. I am also an education major and aspiring teacher, so I feel that my views can help solve problems with a student and teacher-centered approach.”
Chad M. McFarland
Chad M. McFarland, of Santa Lane, Schenectady, is currently seeking his second term on the board. He has lived in the district for seven years. McFarland is a senior attorney with the state Department of Labor Counsel’s Office. He is also a major in the Army Reserve and has served as a judge advocate for 15 years, including 8.5 years of active duty.
“As a father of three daughters in our public schools, I am passionate to see that all of our students receive the best quality education that our teachers can give them. I feel that I was able to contribute much during my first three years on our school board, meeting the challenges facing our district with objectivity, compassion, intellectual curiosity, openness and a heart for our community and stakeholders. As a licensed attorney and Army officer for over 15 years, I believe I have the analytical skills and demonstrated leadership to tackle the challenges facing our school district with purpose for the educational success and excellence of all our students.”