Meet the Board of Education candidates running for three seats in the May 16 school budget vote and election

In addition to voting for the proposed 2023-24 school budget and bus proposition on Tuesday, May 16, voters will be asked to select Board of Education members.

Voters will be asked to select three members for three-year terms running July 1, 2023 through June 30, 2026.

In alphabetical order, meet the candidates:

Shawn CahillShawn Cahill
Our family moved to Westtown in 2007. A major factor in that decision was our daughters would attend Minisink Valley schools. As they grew up, I had the pleasure and joy of coaching softball and basketball; volunteering at 4-H; teaching CCD at Holy Cross and many other activities. I currently volunteer at Holy Cross Parish with some of their tech needs. We really became involved in the community once our daughters entered school, and it has, and continues to be, a great ride. Our oldest daughter graduated last year and is attending FIT in Manhattan and our younger daughter is a Junior in High School now.

I graduated from Molloy College, in Rockville Centre N.Y. in 1985, with a degree in Business Management; and am in my 27th year of owning a small business that designs corporate awards and am currently a NYS licensed insurance agent.

My motivation to be a Board of Education member is that it is one way to give back to a community that has been so good for our family. There is an expectation, and I certainly had it when I became a Board Member, that you can change the world. There are limits to what a Board of Education can and cannot do. Balancing this authority can be a real challenge. I feel that when the Board can make changes, improve our District, or make major decisions, this Board has accepted those challenges and through discussion and debate with the 9 Board Members, reaches decisions that are best for our District.

I am proud to have served as a Board Member for the past 9 years and if the community decides to elect me, I will be honored to continue being involved in the discussions and decisions that continue to move the Minisink Valley School District forward.

Jessica EliJessica Eli
My name is Jessica Eli, and I would be honored to be elected to Minisink’s Board of Education. My husband and I are both from Port Jervis, and we moved to the Minisink School District in 2012. We have two daughters, one is in kindergarten and the other is a third grader at  MVES.

I  feel very strongly about the importance of education;  it’s embedded in me. I am an elementary school teacher at a local school district in Orange County. I graduated in 2009 from East Stroudsburg University,  with a Masters of Education in Literacy. I feel that I would be a valuable addition to the board, due to my experience and education.

My goals are to advocate for all of our children, as well as, sharing  my expertise and background in elementary education. I know that our students would benefit greatly from establishing an official education committee with the BOE, where we can reflect and discuss current and important matters with our  teachers and administrators.

I will bring a wealth of knowledge and experience with me if I am elected, being a mother, teacher, and community member that pays taxes. This will be my driving force and help  me work well with the other Board of Education members.

Ruth LuisRuth A. Luis
My name is Ruth (Rembe) Luis, I was raised and have resided in Westtown, NY for most of my life.  I graduated from Minisink Valley CSD, as did my brothers and my three children.  I have two grandsons attending Minisink with another starting in September.

I am a retired School Business Official with over 30 years of public service experience .  My career began as an entry level clerical at OU BOCES.  I continued to take civil service exams to achieve positions of increased responsibility in public finance culminating as an Assistant Superintendent for Finance and Operations.  My career has provided me with vast knowledge of public finance regulations and statutes.  As an administrator in small public school districts I had many responsibilities including budget development and management, cash flow management, Federal Grant Management, Tax Cap and Tax Levy calculations, Capital Project planning and management, Special Education services as determined by 504 and Individualized Education Plans, Reserve Fund projections, reporting requirements to NYS Education and annual audits, Human Resource responsibilities including Civil Service Law and the Office of Teaching Initiatives.  I supervised the Business Office, Building and Grounds, Food Services and Transportation Departments.  During my career I worked with Board of Education members collaboratively in accomplishing district goals for the benefit of the student and taxpayer.  I currently operate a small business providing auditing services.

I returned to college in 2005 earning a Bachelor’s Degree in Organizational Leadership & Communication in 2008, Master of Public Administration in 2011 and a Certificate of Advanced Study – School District Leadership in 2016.  I completed my education while simultaneously working full time and raising a family.

I am fiscally conservative.  As a steward of Taxpayer Funds, one must recognize the need for fiscal prudence.  Integrity and transparency are priorities in building relationships of trust with the taxpaying community as well as parents, guardians, and students.

Education has historically been influenced by change.  As a member of the Board of Education, I believe it is important to ask questions that lead to thorough analysis for the most beneficial outcomes.

I look forward to sharing my knowledge and skills with others for a positive impact benefiting the constituency and district. Your support is greatly appreciated.

Patricia M. Reynolds
My name is Patricia Reynolds, and I have been a resident of Minisink Valley for the past 12 years.  My daughter, Alexis, is a graduating Senior this year, and my younger daughter, Alayna, is in the 3rd grade at Otisville Elementary.

I have worked in Civil Service/ Local Government Finance for the past twenty years, spending the past twelve years with a large local Fire District.  I enjoy working in public service and find it to be very fulfilling.

I have served as Chairperson of the school district’s Finance committee for the past year. In my personal time, I enjoy being with my family, spending time outdoors, and playing sports.  I volunteer as an Assistant Coach for my younger daughter’s travel softball team, and have volunteered with Otisville Little League and other local organizations.

I have served one term on the Board and would be honored to serve again.  My reasons for running for the school board have remained the same and are simple – to help facilitate the best education possible for all of our students, while remaining fiscally responsible to our community and taxpayers.

My family and I have always valued the sense of community within Minisink Valley; I have truly enjoyed serving on the School Board for the past three years and would be honored to continue to do so for another term.