Pioneer School District voters will head to the polls on Tuesday, May 17, from 6:30 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.  Voting will take place at Pioneer High School.

On the ballot will be a measure on the 2022-23 general fund budget, as well as a proposition on new round of capital improvements, and two candidates running for one five-year term on the Board of Education.

Voter qualifications:

If voting in person, you must show proof of residence at the polls.

1) You must be at least 18 years of age.

2) You must be a U.S. citizen.

3) You must have lived in the Pioneer School District for a period of not less than 30 days prior to the day of the vote.

Absentee ballots: Applications for absentee ballots must be returned to Carrie Bartoszek, District Clerk, by mail at PO Box 579, Yorkshire NY 14173 or in-person at 12145 County Line Rd., Yorkshire, NY 14173, or via email at  

If the voter wishes the ballot to be mailed to them, the completed Absentee Ballot Application must be received by May 10, 2022.  A voter who would like to pick up an Absentee Ballot Application in-person must return the completed application by May 16, 2022.

Completed Absentee Ballots are due back in the District Clerk’s Office no later than 5:00 pm on May 17, 2022 (the date of the election). Absentee ballots can be hand-delivered to the District Clerk’s Office between the hours of 7:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. until May 16, 2022, and 7:30 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. on May 17, 2022.  For more information about absentee voting, please contact the District Clerk at 716-492-9305 or by email at

Board of Education bios: Candidates were asked to share information about themselves.

Mary Lou Merlau (incumbent) - My name is Mary Lou Merlau and I am a lifelong resident of the district residing in the Town of Java on our Dairy Farm. I am a Pioneer Central School graduate – Class of ’79, along with my husband Douglas – PCS Class of ’76, daughter Kimberly – PCS Class of ’12 and son Ryan – PCS Class of ’14.

I currently work locally in the community at API Heat Transfer in Arcade for the past 30 years in Sales Administration and Customer Service. I understand the importance of Agriculture within our community and have served on the PCS school board for 15 years. I take great pride in our district and look forward to continuing my partnership with the community and school board to create opportunity and an excellent learning environment for our students, our future, guiding them to be positive, contributing citizens in an ever-changing world. I have also enjoyed serving our community through the Wyoming County 4-H and my church.

My goal is to preserve the financial stability of the district while positioning the district to be successful on future initiatives with minimal to zero tax fluctuations. Initiatives include the following:

· Maintain and grow programs and services on behalf of all students.

· Support equity and alignment between our elementary buildings and middle school to seamlessly transition students to the Middle School.

· Preserve our branding – we are PiONEer! Ensure all T-shirts, water bottles, balloons, pens/pencils, etc., always promote PiONEer, not a building.

· Continue to advocate for vocational training and school to work programs.

· Support Internships through our Technology, Agriculture and Special Education Departments.

· Encourage the public to attend Board meetings regularly so that there is a better understanding of what factors influence Board decisions and what the Board is responsible for.

During my 15 years of tenure on the school board, the PCS district completed approximately $150 million dollars of capital project work with zero local tax impact to the community. These projects completed preventative maintenance to our buildings and enhanced many academic, music and athletics programs. Additional achievements are as follows:

· Installation of the new HVAC system helped our students and staff during the Covid-19 pandemic.

· Implemented full day Universal Pre-K with transportation.

· Invested in the Literacy Program through additional staffing.

· Maintained our Project Lead the Way program.

· Added the Finance and Health Academies.

· Preserved and expanded the Center for Positive Solutions (supports students and families) when grant funding ended by absorbing the cost through the general fund.

One of my main objectives going forward is to continue making decisions that are best for the entire district by considering community, parent, and legal input. Board Service is my way of giving back to the community that has given so very, very much to me and my entire family and I will always, always do what is best for our children.

Mark Kless  is a resident of Machias and a 1993 Pioneer graduate. He and his wife Jennifer are parents of Wake (Class of 2018), Gracie (‘21), Lilly (Grade 8) and Maven (Grade 5).

Mr. Kless is an owner at Kless Boys.

Mr. Kless said, “I have been married to a public school educator for 23 years. I proudly served in the United States Marine Corps.”

Mr. Kless was asked what strengths he would bring to the Board of Education. “I am aligned with the same traditions and values that are important to our area and have the strength to stand up for those values when they are challenged. I also have extensive experience working with a variety of school and community groups. In addition, I have experience with building projects and public relations,” he said.

When asked what features of Pioneer schools he would like to preserve or change, Mr. Kless said “The Pioneer Community is full of people who are hard working, loyal, and resilient. I want to preserve those values in our graduating seniors. I would also like to see our schools continue to offer a broad range of opportunities for our students.”

Mr. Kless summarized the ways in which he has served the community. “Over the years, I have demonstrated an unwavering commitment to the Pioneer area and have had the privilege of serving on many boards, youth sports teams, and event committees.”