Now that Residents for a Better WNY’s petition to get an elected board of education has crossed the important hurdle of being certified by the town’s clerk, Carmela Riccie, I think it is important to really think about why this is so important to approve in the coming election. Like the people who work within the schools themselves, board of education officials are the most direct link between funding and policy that affect a school district and the community it serves. In an ideal situation these people have an invested interest in the local system because they realize the following truth: if the children of a community are prosperous, then the community will do well.
The members of a an elected board of education want to create an environment that allows educators and administration to do their jobs in the best way possible by creating a positive environment of collaboration and professionalism. If WNY gets the opportunity to elect their school board they will benefit in many ways. These are the ones that come to my mind immediately: -A direct say in local school policy: Being able to vote on the members of the board allows a voter to focus on what the candidate really stands for regarding education. This system really allows a voter to focus on this one topic. -The ability to vet the right people for the job with our vote: The best candidates for these positions have experience working with others and knowledge of how the school district works. -A non partisan body – Since we can vote for people individually, regardless of their positions on other issues, the BoE can reflect both sides of the political spectrum. It no longer has to coincide with the views of the Mayor and the Commissioners. -We, the voters of WNY can democratically edit the board – we no longer have to have our kids subject to the whims of mayor whose appointees are often the result of nepotism, crony politics or favors. After their terms are up, we can vote in new members. I could go on, but the fact of the matter is this, if we all go to the polls and approve this we give ourselves the opportunity to make significant and positive change in the lives of the kids in our town.
Beatriz L. Pelaez-Martinez