Regarding the upcoming Schenectady school board election, it would appear that city residents have much to be grateful for.
Most importantly: No matter who is victorious, it’s pretty clear that the old guard — which promoted Eric Ely to superintendent five years ago, then sat idly back while he and convicted bully Steve Raucci made a mess of things — is on its way out.
Longtime President Jeff Janiszewski, who called shots in the district for the better part of two decades — even when he wasn’t board president, even when he wasn’t on the board — chose not to run for re-election; so did Linda Bellick, who, despite being voted out overwhelmingly in last May’s election, was subsequently picked by Janiszewski to replace Joyce Wachala — one of two successful reform candidates who resigned when her son became ill.
The only incumbent running is Maxine Brisport, who was appointed by Janiszewski to fill a board vacancy several years ago. While she quietly abided his dictatorial style and went along with his many questionable decisions over the years, she recently claims to have had a change of heart. Whether she’s being sincere or merely politic — she speaks in vague platitudes about the need for reform but stops short of endorsing specifics — will be up to voters to decide.
For the four available seats, they’ll have eight other candidates to choose from — and most, if not all, are committed to getting rid of Ely. That’s good news and should be any new board’s priority, but far from its only chore. Indeed the key to the election — and the district’s future — may lie in voters’ identifying the candidates with the best ideas besides getting rid of Ely.
That’s not going to be an easy task — though it will be less difficult than if all 21 residents who picked up petitions were actually running. But there are at least a couple of “Meet the Candidates” forums before the May 18 election: May 11 in the Schenectady High School Black Box Theater and May 13 in St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Bellevue. Schenectadians with an interest in saving their school district need to attend, listen, then vote.