Two New Faces Excited to Join Batavia School Board, Roberts Keeps Her Seat

Kathleen Roberts, Gregg Hodge and Cathy Dremel advance from a field of five to be part of the next School Board.

Note: The election results included below are that of the 26 precincts reporting in Batavia only.

The Batavia School Board will have some new members this year, and a familiar face will keep her board seat.

Longtime member Kathleen Roberts earned the most votes, 913, out of any of the candidates to stay on the Board. Challengers Gregg Hodge and Cathy Dremel on Tuesday received enough votes to join the Board, according to unofficial results.

"I appreciate the support of the citizens of the Batavia School District," Hodge said on Tuesday evening. "I do what I can. I don’t know what else to say, it’s kind of humbling."

Roberts and Hodge were just 11 votes apart at 913 and 902 votes, respectively. Together they had 32 percent of the vote. Dremel was next at 839 votes and 15 percent, followed by incumbent Matt Winkle with 807 votes and 14.5 percent.

The winners say they are dedicated to helping the district through tough financial times that involve rising deficits and possible teacher layoffs.

Winkle lost his seat by 33 votes and challenger Patti Kozlowski came in last. She was 19 votes behind Winkle at 788 and 14 percent of the vote.

Winkle, a five-year veteran of the board, replied to a Batavia Patch request for comment with this e-mail message: "I felt obligated to run I never felt obligated to win."

Hodge Prepares for Public Office

Hodge already knows his first go-round as a public 0fficial is going to be lots of learning, listening and watching.

"I don’t think I’m going to come on and firestorm any changes," he said. "There’s no big agenda that I had."

Hodge's main focus will be learning board procedures and policies. He sees the Board seat as the next step in serving the community as his youngest son prepares to graduate this spring. Hodge has been a Batavia Bulldog Booster Club President and Board member and has also been on the Batavia Public Schools Facilities Commission.

"I appreciate those people that know me and chose me to support," Hodge said. "It’s my first venture in public office. We’ll see what I can do."

Board Term Will Expand Dremel's Service In Schools

For Cathy Dremel, the win is bittersweet.

“I am of course very excited and really eager to start, but we had such fantastic candidates running," Dremel said. "It’s sad that two of them won’t be working in the capacity they were running for.”

Dremel opted to throw her hat in the ring for the open School Board seat initially because of her own positive experiences with District 101.

“I’m just so very happy with our experience and so excited about the opportunity to serve in a larger capacity,” she said.

Besides volunteering for many activities at her children’s schools, Dremel is also a member of the Batavia Foundation for Excellence. Her goal as a board member is to “definitely keep the high caliber of education we’ve had.”

“I want to continue to promote the collaborative approach we’ve had in the past,” Dremel said. “That’s why the School District is so successful. I think it’s really important for that to continue.”

Roberts: Providing Quality Education "Will Not Be Easy"

Roberts, a 20-year-veteran of the Batavia School Board, said she will continue to make sure there is a proper balance between the needs of the students, the teachers and the taxpayers.

"All of those groups need to be fairly represented," Roberts said on Tuesday. "Everybody’s going to get a little of something they want, and everybody’s not going to get a little something they want."

Roberts said her votes likely came from voters' trust in her work on the Board. She thanked the voters who supported her and all voters in general who came out to the polls on Tuesday.

Going forward, Roberts said tough decisions lie ahead for the Board. The district is wrestling with a $4 million deficit this year, and they project a $5 million deficit for next school year and $7 million for the 2012-13 year.

"This is the most difficult financial climate I have seen on the school board," Roberts said. "We have come through and survived it before ... We will continue to provide a quality education for the students of Batavia, but it will not be easy."




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