Three seek to serve on Highland School Board

By Mark Reynolds
Posted 5/14/24

There are three school board candidates seeking seats on the Highland School Board- Mike Bakatsias, Jenn Becker and Ed Meisel. The trio are running unopposed and residents will be able to vote on …

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Three seek to serve on Highland School Board


There are three school board candidates seeking seats on the Highland School Board- Mike Bakatsias, Jenn Becker and Ed Meisel. The trio are running unopposed and residents will be able to vote on them at the May 21st budget vote.

Mike Bakatsias, who has served on the school board for the past 12 years, is choosing to run once again.

“I’ve always been an advocate of public education and I absolutely think it’s a pillar of a free Democracy; to that end a good basic education is so important,” he said, adding that his three children have been students in the district. “Highland does a phenomenal job at preparing students for that next chapter in life.”

Bakatsias acknowledged the current financial difficulties facing the district, “but I wanted to state that I’m committed, whether it’s through alternate funding or as more news develops, to restoring anything that we had to reduce to get to the 2024-25 budget.”

Bakatsias strongly supports the current School Administration at the central office and at the building levels.

“The COVID period really put all leaders to the test and I see extraordinary leadership here and I see it every day,” he said.

Bakatsias urged everyone to vote, “to make your voice heard, not to vote yes or no, but to make your vote count in every election. I hope you vote on May 21st and vote your conscience and I thank you.”

Ed Meisel is finishing his ninth year on the school board, “and I am coming around one more time.” Both of his children have been through the Highland School District, “but we still have that capital project to finish and I’m part of the Support Services Committee and I’d like to see that completed.”

Meisel said it is unfortunate that Highland is not receiving the full funding from the state, “which has put us in an awkward position. As a board member one of the things that we are charged with is making sure the district is fiscally sound and solvent as well as academically sound. I’m very proud of the board members I’ve worked with over the last nine years and I think we’ve accomplished that very much with the support of the community.”

Meisel expects the district will work through this period of fiscal challenges because, “there are so many good and generous people here and we, as a board, try to recognize the generosity of the community without taking advantage of them.”

Meisel understands that the board had to “slim down” the budget, which no one on the board wanted to do, “but we felt it was the most respectful and responsible way of handling it to maintain the integrity of our academic structure while maintaining a fiscally sound plan that doesn’t tap into families that are already suffering through increased prices and inflation.”

Meisel asked the public for their support that will allow him to continue his work for another term with the rest of the school board.

“Hopefully working together will make this into an even better place than it is now,” he said.

Jenn Becker has lived in Highland for 17 years and has two children in the district, a graduating senior and a fifth grader and her husband coaches Varsity Girls lacrosse.

“I have a lot to learn as the newbie here and I am looking forward to serving,” she said. “Highland has been wonderful and both of my children have thrived and done wonderful things here.”

Becker said in the first 20 years of her professional life, she worked at Marist College, “so I have a lot of higher ed background, everything from academic advising, event planning and coordination and I did a lot with commencement and orientation. My current position is still with higher ed but I get to work remotely from home, so that gives me some flexibility to do more in the community. In my free time I am a Girl Scout troop leader so you can see I am invested as I can be with the youth in our community and everything we can do to better things. I look forward to this new challenge and opportunity. Thank you.”