Duanesburg residents turn out to hear from school board candidates

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DUANESBURG For an hour Thursday evening, five Duanesburg Central School District residents running for school board seats answered various questions, including their positions on banning books, masking and vaccine mandates, and critical race theory. 

The five candidates are vying for two open board seats. One of the candidates running, Dianne Grant, who also is a town board member, is seeking re-election to her seat. The other four candidates are seeking their first terms on the board. 

All of the candidates agreed that books with specific political views should not be banned. 

“I think there’s a lot of viewpoints out there and we need to look at them all,” said Grant, who works in Animal Health Sales and has volunteered for several organizations including the Duanesburg Volunteer Ambulance Corps. 

While candidate Avis Sanchez said she didn’t believe in banning books on specific politics, she did not want books that “reflect pornography” to be read. 

All but one of the candidates said there shouldn’t be a mask or COVID-19 vaccine requirement for students. 

“I believe that should be the decision of the parent, child and physician,” said Sarah Gwiazdowski, who works for Century 21 as a self-employed contractor and has been a pre-kindergarten teacher at Liberty Church for 2.5 years. 

“That’s a difficult question to answer,” said Julie Lindh, who is a professor at Fulton-Montgomery Community College, a clinical supervisor at Northern Rivers and a substitute teacher for the district, as well as having been a part of various boards. 

She said that the decision wasn’t really in the district’s hands and things would change based on information available. 

Lindh was a proponent of bringing more transparency to the district, as well as providing more mental health needs. Other board candidates agreed that transparency and communication needed to be improved in the district. 

When it came to critical race theory, candidate Andrew Huth said, “Not my district.” 

Huth is a retired career and technology teacher at Hamilton Fulton Montgomery BOCES, the owner of Studio 180 Photography and a U.S. Navy veteran. 

Other candidates, like Gwiazdowski and Sanchez, raised issues with the word “equity” in the district’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion policy. They both said equality, not equity, should be at the forefront. 

The event, which was attended by more than 30 residents, was put on by the Duanseburg Community Parent-Teacher Association with the help of the Schenectady County League of Women Voters. During the event, residents were  told not to record the event with video or audio, but that it would be recorded by the organization and posted later.

For more information on the candidates, visit https://www.duanesburg.org/meet-the-board-of-education-candidates-2/

Reporter Shenandoah Briere can be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @SB_DailyGazette. 

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