Skaneateles BOE candidates: Margaret Usdansky Niebuhr

School board candidate Margaret Usdansky Niebuhr.

School board candidate Margaret Usdansky Niebuhr.

Usdansky Niebuhr has lived in Skaneateles with her husband and two sons since 2003. She is the director of the academic integrity office at Syracuse University and also conducts research as an associate professor of child and family studies at the David B. Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics. She has been involved with the Skaneateles YMCA annual support campaign for two years, co-chairing the campaign this year, served on the Baltimore Woods Nature Center board of directors from 2005 to 2008 and has been involved with boy scouts, music and athletic events in the community.

Why did you decide to run for the school board? “I’m running because I care passionately about our schools and about making sure that all of our children, receive the best education possible. I feel very lucky to be able to live in the Skaneateles school district and I want to, in any way I can, try to contribute to making sure that the district is a wonderful place for all our kids, not just now but far into the future.”

Are there any specific issues you want to address if elected to the board? “The district faces new challenges. To move forward, the school board needs to explore new that will that will turn these challenges into opportunities.”

“The challenges that we want to turn into opportunities include hiring a really strong set of top administrators, strengthening our programs, while also being very fiscally responsible, and really supporting our teachers at a time when the district and the teachers face a lot of new state requirements particularly around testing. Declining enrollment is also a key challenge. I would like to see the district explore new strategies in response, including opening some classes with low enrollment to students from other districts via Skype or other avenues for distance learning.”

What are your thoughts on the superintendent search? “I believe that the board did a wise thing in bringing in a set of consultants and working to get strong applicants and evaluate them. I think what really matters moving forward is let’s go find somebody who is experienced, innovative and a skilled leader.”

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