EDITORIAL: Vote for change on Schenectady board

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There are five candidates for school board and a $218.8 million budget on the ballot for the Schenectady school district today.

But in reality, voters have just two choices: An endorsement of a string of failures and incompetence from the past, or a future bright with possibility and hope.

We suggest they choose the latter.

For the school board, two of the seven seats are up for election today, each to a three-year term.

Board President John Foley decided not to seek re-election, leaving board member Andrew Chestnut as the only incumbent on the ballot.

The other four candidates offer Schenectady voters a wide variety of experience, knowledge and approaches. They are Jamaica Miles, a community activist; Samuel Rose, a staffer with the state Education Department; Prince Sprauve, a former district employee and local filmmaker; and Erica Brockmyer, a school counselor and former Schenectady Boys & Girls Club leader.
Election to the board of any of them will represent an improvement over the current cast and help shape a better future for students, parents and taxpayers.

The district has been plagued by poor decision-making for years.

This is the board that allowed former Superintendent Larry Spring to reign with impunity for years with hardly any response to rumors and documented concerns about his conduct, all the while raising his pay significantly.

When the final straw finally did come down and Spring resigned, the board agreed to a non-disclosure agreement that prevented either side from discussing the reasons behind his resignation or from anyone making disparaging remarks about the other.

Citizens have a right to know what was behind the resignation. But the school board decided the public had no such right.

Turns out, the district had decided not to share the results of an internal investigation prompted by a sexual harassment complaint against Spring. Now the board’s secrecy is coming back to bite the district financially, in that Spring has sued the district for $7.8 million for allegedly violating the secret agreement.

Then there’s the whole mishandling of the nearly year-long search to replace Spring, which resulted in the district having to start over when the lone finalist backed out. During the process, the school board angered citizens and citizens groups, including the local chapter of the NAACP, for the way it played out.

Now voters expect virtually the same board to do it right?

Let’s not forget how the district mishandled the preemptive staff layoffs back in the fall in anticipation of steep state aid cuts that never came; the district’s continued high taxes and other performance-based issues.

Two new school board members won’t change the direction of the district overnight. But an infusion of new voices and experience will help move the district in a much better direction.

So go online and learn about the candidates. We published a questionnaire with them on Sunday. Visit the district website for candidate profiles and visit the candidates’ own social media accounts to learn about them.

Then find the two candidates among the four challengers who best suit the vision you have for the district, and vote for them.

Polls are open today from noon to 9 p.m. at various voting locations.

Categories: Editorial, Opinion

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