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Longtime B-W School Board Member Bids Adieu

Martin Schmotzer says a tearful goodbye to the school board on Wednesday night.

The always colorful and occasionally controversial Baldwin-Whitehall School Board member Martin Michael Schmotzer said goodbye to the school board and to the public at the end of a regular meeting on Wednesday night.

Schmotzer, who served on the school board from 1987 to 1993 and was later appointed back to the board in 2007, became emotional during the meeting's board member comments time as he reflected on his tenure in the .

(Schmotzer was appointed to the board in November 2007 because he had earned the most votes out of all non-elected board candidates in that time's most recent local election. The resignation of board member Jane W. Hunnewell opened a spot for Schmotzer.)

"There are so many good people in this school district," Schmotzer said on Wednesday night. "Until you serve in an elected position, no matter what it is, you will not know the honor and the privilege it is to serve and to try to work for change, work for change on behalf of children.

" ... I gave it all in the time I was here. I'm the only one with a 100-percent attendance record in public meetings and executive sessions. I tell my kids all the time, 'I'm not the smartest guy in the room, but I'm always in the room.' No one's gonna start a meeting without me being there.

" ... I gave it all. In the process, I managed to incite, agitate, infuriate and exasperate almost everybody in this (board) room. And I'm very proud of it because I didn't come here just to sit around. I came here to effect change. I thought this school district needed a shot in the arm in '07.

" ... I tried the best I could, and I think we've accomplished a lot ... I had ideas. We put them into policies. We put them into motions."

Schmotzer turned his attention at one point to student Edward Lippl, the senior class representative to the school board.

"You (Lippl) and so many other children in this school district are the reason you come back and fight the fight.

"There's so many good members of this board ... 

"This district's so lucky to have gentlemen like Mr. (George L.) Pry, Mr. (Kevin J.) Fischer and my brother (John B. Schmotzer) on this board. The work, the dedication they do—the abuse they get is so unwarranted, but there's a yin and yang to everything.

"Ms. (Nancy Lee) Crowder (another board member), I know your heart's in the right place. You've got a lot of potential. I want you to reach it. I know you care about children, and I wish you the best.

"Ms. (Diana) Kazour (another board member), you're 3-for-3 (in elections). You're 3-for-3. Good for you.

"Ms. (Laurencine) Romack (another board member), you shall return.

"Robert Frost talked about, in his poem ('Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening'), '(And) miles to go before I sleep/(And) miles to go before I sleep.'"

Martin Schmotzer's voice then trembled a bit as he continued to speak.

"I can't tell you what an honor it was, especially as my daughters got older, to sit her with you and to see them grow in front of me. It seems the four years have gone much too quickly.

" ... This district has so much to offer in educational opportunities, extracurricular opportunities and athletic opportunities.

" ... We do so well and excel so well. And there's frustrations. And I have them with you, also. But there's a way to go about sharing your frustration. We don't have to be haters and (express) negativity all the time. We can get up and work together and join together and fight together to get better.

" ... And as Jack Kennedy always said, 'We can always do better. We can always do better.'

" ... If I was effective at all in the last few years, a lot of it has to do with (Board Secretary) Mary Ann Kraus. Let's put it this way: I had the opportunity to vent my frustration on one person on a continual basis—not daily but close—and I don't know anybody who's sharper in life (or) more dedicated to the district. She made me better, and she got the most out of me for this district.

" ... She taught me when I thought I knew everything. She taught me on a daily, weekly, monthly, yearly basis. So I'm indebted to you very much.

" ... I think, as we move along, I won't be here (as a crowd member) on a regular basis, but occasionally, I will make a guest appearance. And it's gonna be fun to get up to the microphone and talk from the other side of the fence in the audience. I think that's our right. That's our duty."

He then turned to the audience.

"It's your duty to make us better.

"So, that's all I have to say. Thank you, God bless, and I'll never forget the experience. Thank you very much."

Schmotzer did not run for re-election this year. He announced publicly in March that .

After speaking on Wednesday, the meeting's attendants applauded, and Pry, the board president, said the following:

"On behalf of the whole board, for your service, Marty, and Laurencine, for yours, those of us on the board recognize the amount of work, the amount of stress, the amount of ideas and fighting and good stuff and bad stuff. I appreciate you keeping us all to the task."

Martin Schmotzer, Romack and Kevin A. Stiffey are all leaving the board to be replaced by the Larry Pantuso, Tracy Macek and Ray Rosing. Pantuso, Macek and Rosing will be sworn in at the start of a Dec. 7 board meeting.

Stiffey left the meeting before board member comments time.

Romack, who was , this year, did say goodbye on Wednesday night. She did not win re-election, as she failed to emerge from the  in May.

"I wanted to thank my fellow school board members," she said, "for giving me this opportunity to sit here with you. Even though we don't always agree on everything, each of these individuals is dedicated to the children in this district, and I do feel fortunate to have been able to be here working beside you."

Check back with the Baldwin-Whitehall Patch later on Thursday for more odds and ends from Wednesday night's school board meeting.

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bd November 11, 2011 at 02:11 PM
The fix is in. Ray Rosing won't serve on the B-W school board for long. Laurencine Romack has received the Schmotzer blessing to replace him when the time comes. How nice that this is all pre-arranged.
Purple Power November 11, 2011 at 03:31 PM
BD, way to call that one out. I totally agree and read that the same way. It would be a disservice to the board to appoint someone (again) who already had a chance and a failed chance at re-election to continue to serve. There were and are many qualified individuals who come forward to fill in and to give it back just because that person didn't get elected is a purely political move. Nothing personal against Mrs. Romak, who is certainly dedicated enough to the district without being a board member.
Brian Rampolla November 13, 2011 at 02:43 AM
Hopefully everyone elected to the board has the full intention to serve; otherwise they will have taken votes away from legitimate candidates. But if there is a vacancy, the seat should be filled by the candidate with the next highest vote count in this general election, in exactly the same way Marty Schmotzer was appointed in 2007 (see the board minutes from 11/14/07 on the district website). And John Schmotzer, Kevin Fischer, and George Pry, who supported this process in 2007, should have no problem supporting the same process again. What’s more important is that the new board hits the ground running and immediately tells us how they’ll deal with the looming budget deficits and specifically what new innovative educational initiatives they’ll push for. The high school just barely made AYP in 2011, especially for math, and the math and reading targets increase by about 10 points for 2012, so now is the perfect time for the board to make sure this is a priority. I encourage everyone to read Harold Miller’s 11/6/11 Post-Gazette article in which he says “…school boards, superintendents and teacher unions should instead focus their energies on radically reinventing the way their schools function in order to deliver better performance at lower costs.” We have every right to expect this kind of innovation in the Baldwin Whitehall district, and we voters have the right to hold this board accountable to ensure it happens, now.
Lou Rainaldi Jr. November 13, 2011 at 04:17 PM
Thank you for your service Martin, I may not have agreed with you all the time but you always made me rethink some of my opinions on different subjects. I also could see that your heart was in what you did as part of the board. My prayers are with you and your family as you battle cancer. Thank you.
Janet November 13, 2011 at 09:17 PM
I'm so confused, what was said or done for people to think Rosing isn't going to serve on the board? Where exactly did this rumor come from? I would have liked to see someone else from Build A Better Board make the board, but bottom line they weren't voted in! When are people going to grow up and start accepting the facts? Some people need to stop thinking everything is done for spite, and grow up. I find it amazing how some people think certain board members have such great power, just because they throw a flip side into a discussion. I give Marty credit for speaking out and voicing a different opinion. Like Lou Rainaldi Jr. said, it made you rethink on some of the different subjects. None of us always agree on everything, which is good because life would be boring if we did. I personally worry about people who always think there is an alterer motive for things done; I wonder why they are so paraniod, what are they up to themselves.
Purple Power November 14, 2011 at 12:46 AM
That's exactly it Janet it is like I said in my other post when you present an alternate opinion you are wrong in the eyes of the Better Board group. You will see, they will be after us for presenting an opposing front. While I have heard this rumor, I think it was from a neighbor who is a Better Board supporter. What will they come up with next? Whatever it is, it will be crazy enough for them to not secure enough votes in the next election either.

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