3 vie for 2 Canandaigua Board of Education seats
Candidates Michelle Pedzich, Mark LaRoach and Jennifer Schneider hope to join the nine-member school board.
CANANDAIGUA — Come July, incoming Superintendent Jamie Farr won’t be the only new face at the leadership table. Voters in the Canandaigua City School District will fill two open Board of Education seats when they head to the polls on Tuesday.
Three candidates will compete for two open seats, left empty when Michelle Pedzich’s and Joseph Delforte’s five-year terms expire June 30.
Pedzich hopes to retain her seat, but Delforte is not seeking another term. Challengers Mark LaRoach and Jennifer Schneider will vie for their first terms, which start July 1.
In April the district announced the appointment of Midlakes Superintendent Farr as superintendent to succeed Lynne Erdle when she retires from the district in June. Farr’s official start date is July 1.
So who will take a seat on the nine-member board alongside Farr?
Here are the candidates.
OCCUPATION Vice president and director of human resources at Canandaigua National Bank & Trust Company
HOMETOWN City of Canandaigua
EDUCATION Master of science in human resources development from RIT in 2004 and holds a B.A. in psychology from SUNY Geneseo
FAMILY Husband, Keith, and their daughter, who attends Canandaigua Academy
INCUMBENT OR CHALLENGER Incumbent
Michelle Pedzich is completing her first term on the Canandaigua City Schools Board of Education, after having been elected in 2012.
Pedzich has served on the board’s Audit/Finance, Policy, Character Education/Wellness, and Board Development/Superintendent Relations subcommittees. She has also served as board representative to the district’s Council for Instructional Excellence.
“Strong public schools help communities thrive,” said Pedzich. “I am proud to live, work, and play in a community that values its educational system and supports all of our students, whatever their individualized needs may be. It has been a privilege to serve on the Board of Education these past five years, and if I am re-elected I will continue to work collaboratively with all stakeholders to help move the district forward through our Plan for Excellence.”
Prior to 2012, Pedzich served the school district on its Professional Development Committee, and was a 2008 recipient of Rochester’s 40-Under-40 Award.
“I strongly believe in the value of public education and I will continue to support special education, music and arts programs, athletics, and enrichment programs that all students can participate in,” said Pedzich. “I will also continue to advocate against unfunded mandates, school vouchers, and other issues that interfere with what is in the best interest of all of our Canandaigua students.”
Pedzich and her husband, Keith, a teacher at Canandaigua Academy, have a daughter who attends the high school. The family lives on East Street in Canandaigua.
OCCUPATION Retired school superintendent
HOMETOWN City of Canandaigua
EDUCATION Master’s degrees in education from Canisius College and in educational administration and school business administration from Niagara University
FAMILY Wife, Cheryl, and three grown children
INCUMBENT OR CHALLENGER Challenger
Mark LaRoach is seeking his first term on the Canandaigua City School District Board of Education. A retired school superintendent, LaRoach led districts in Maine, New Hampshire, and most recently in Vestal, Broome County. He retired in January 2016 after a 43-year career in public education.
“I’m so concerned about what’s happening in Washington, D.C., right now with the new secretary of education and the potential movement of funds away from public education,” said LaRoach. “In part, the new secretary of education is an advocate for vouchers that would be used in private schools and would redirect money away from public schools.”
LaRoach said he’s also “very concerned about the learning gap that exists between those who do not have the fiscal advantage of many who do.”
“Economically poor students are at a disadvantage, and hopefully my experience will help close that gap,” he said. “We see a gap and we need to close that gap. I believe I have the knowledge, experience and heart to help all succeed.”
LaRoach said he also hopes to be a part of the board that will assist the incoming superintendent, and believes his experience has equipped him well to do that.
A native of Lockport, LaRoach retired in Canandaigua in 2016. He and his wife, Cheryl, live on Kennedy Street in the City of Canandaigua.
OCCUPATION Professor of civil engineering technology and environmental management and safety at Rochester Institute of Technology; Eugene H. Fram chair in applied critical thinking
HOMETOWN Town of Canandaigua
EDUCATION Doctorate from the University of Massachusetts Lowell College of Engineering, and a master’s degree from University of Rochester
FAMILY Husband, Tim, and two daughters who attend Canandaigua schools
INCUMBENT OR CHALLENGER Challenger
Jennifer Schneider is seeking her first term on the board. She is a professor at Rochester Institute of Technology and there leads a university-wide, student-focused initiative in applied critical thinking.
Schneider began her career as an engineer before transitioning 20 years ago to RIT, where her students have a 97 percent immediate career placement rate. She was an appointee to the New York State Respond Commission in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.
“I’ve been in and around Canandaigua for about four decades,” said Schneider. “My first job at Wood Library. I worked as an engineer at Mobil Chemical in the 1990s. I keep coming back. I know how incredible Canandaigua is, and it’s not just because of the lake, it’s because of the people here.”
As a Canandaigua PTSA parent representative, she has served on the district’s Plan for Excellence development committee.
“It really has to do with the kids,” said Schneider. “Not only do I have a fifth- and seventh-grader, it’s really because I know that a quality education is the foundation to a quality life. I want to make sure we make decisions that are sound for those kids so they have a life that gives them an opportunity to be all they can be.”
Currently, Schneider serves on the district’s technology committee, and Council for Instructional Excellence.
Schneider and her husband, Tim, have two daughters who attend Canandaigua schools. The family lives on Parrish Street Extension in the Town of Canandaigua.