On May 16, Fayetteville-Manlius voters will elect three members to serve on the F-M Board of Education.
The board is the official policy-making body of the school district. It is responsible for carrying out the laws and regulations pertaining to the education of children living within the district. The board adopts district policy, curriculum, programs of study, and approves the hiring of all personnel, as well as establishing the conditions of employment. The board is also responsible for maintaining district facilities, establishing an annual budget and setting a tax levy.
The F-M Board of Education is comprised of nine school district residents elected by voters. Each board member is elected to a three-year term. Board members are not financially compensated.
In addition to the nine members elected by district residents, the board also includes a non-voting student member who is selected annually by district administration. The student board member attends all public meetings but may not attend executive or exempt sessions, which are portions of the meeting in which the law allows board members to discuss privately matters such as proposed, pending or current litigation.
Four candidates filed nominating petitions for the three available seats. The three with the highest number of votes will serve three-year terms, beginning July 1, 2023. Candidates are listed in the order they will appear on the ballot.
Jason Catalino, of Fayetteville, is seeking his second term on the board of education. He has lived in the district for ten years and he and his wife, Karrie, have three children: two who attend Wellwood Middle School and one who attends Fayetteville-Manlius High School. Catalino is an accounting manager with National Grid and has more than 20 years of experience as a certified public accountant. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in accounting from SUNY Geneseo and a master’s degree in business administration from LeMoyne College. Catalino previously served as an assistant coach for F-M Little League and is a member of the board for the Syracuse Chapter of the New York State Society of Certified Public Accountants. He is an active volunteer for various Wellwood Home and School Association events and actively supports the Immaculate Conception Church youth ministry.
Rebecca Cohen, of Fayetteville, is seeking her third term on the board of education. She and her husband, Brendan McGinn, have three children: two who attend Wellwood Middle School (grade 5) and one who attends Fayetteville Elementary School (grade 3). Cohen is a Fayetteville-Manlius High School graduate and has been a district resident for 21 years. She attended Brown University where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in history. She earned her Juris Doctor from the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law. Cohen is an attorney with Bousquet Holstein PLLC, where she practices immigration law. She currently serves on the InterFaith Works of Central New York Board of Directors and is an active pro bono immigration attorney with the Volunteer Lawyers Project of CNY, Inc. During her first two board of education terms she served on the community relations committee; diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) in education committee; facilities committee and policy committee.
Mucahide (Heidi) Akarvardar
Mucahide (Heidi) Akarvardar, of Manlius, is seeking her first term on the board of education. A district resident for two years, she and her spouse Ibrahim have two children who attend Enders Road Elementary School (grades 1 and 3). She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in history of art and archaeology from University of Anatolia in Turkey and a Master of Science degree in publishing from Pace University. Her certifications include English as a Second Language from Cambridge University, high school art history teacher from Turkey and teacher assistant from New York State. Akarvardar currently works from home as an accountant for a family wealth advisor company in California. Prior to accounting, she served as a director of the Chobani Foundation, director of communications for a non-profit organization in New York City and project manager for the Ford Foundation. She also worked as an archaeologist and site manager for an international excavation project. Akarvardar serves as a volunteer chef for In My Father’s Kitchen and also assists immigrant and refugee community members with applying for green cards, citizenship and jobs. She volunteers at F-M’s elementary schools by writing and performing traditional Turkish shadow puppet shows as a means to discuss social responsibility topics in a fun way.
Kristen Purcell, of Fayetteville, is seeking her first term on the board of education. She and her husband, Eric Boye have one child who attends Wellwood Middle School (grade 7). Purcell has been a district resident for seven years. A Jamesville-DeWitt High School graduate, Purcell received a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology, a Master of Science degree in elementary education and a Certificate of Advanced Study in school building and district administration from Syracuse University. Purcell is the Director of CNY/Oswego County Teacher Center. Prior to her current role, she served in various educational roles, including Coordinator of Social Emotional Learning, Community Partnerships and Family Engagement for Solvay Union Free School District; assistant principal of Eagle Hill Middle School; Assistant Coordinator of Innovative Teaching and Learning at Onondaga-Cortland-Madison Board of Cooperative Educational Services; and elementary teacher for Jamesville-DeWitt Central School District. She is currently a member of New York State Association for Women in Administration – Central New York Chapter and is involved in Wellwood Middle School’s Home and School Association, and Site-Based Team.