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Politics prevails again in Niskayuna school district

Saturday, May 17, 2014
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Politics prevails again in Niskayuna school district

Each year, Niskayuna Teacher’s Association [NTA] invites Board of Education candidates to its Executive Board meeting for a chance to gain its endorsement.

However, first-term candidate Rosemarie Jaquith failed to receive an invitation to the May 7 meeting, and the NTA endorsed the other two candidates, including Board of Education president, Deb Oriola, who supported last year’s failed budget and is responsible for a series of other questionable decisions this year.

Jaquith learned that her letter invitation was sent to the wrong address, despite her correct address being on file with the district. She asked for another opportunity to meet in person with the NTA before it made its decision, but was denied that opportunity.

How can the NTA make a credible Board of Education endorsement without properly inviting and meeting with all candidates? Many Niskayuna teachers and parents, like us, strongly support Rosemarie Jaquith for Board of Education due to her background and experience, including years of dedicated PTO and district committee service. Rosemarie will be a strong advocate for teachers and students in the current climate, and is worthy of NTA’s endorsement.

It appears behind-the-scenes politics prevailed once again in Niskayuna.

Anne and Michael Skrebutenas


Duanesburg provides more reasons not to run for school board

“Doing a good job” was one of the reasons given for the lack of interest in two local Board of Education seats, as well as the fact that people are too busy, the thanklessness of the commitment and the fiscal environment [May 5 Gazette].

I would like to pose a potential challenge to the assumption people believe their boards are “doing a good job.” In May 2013, the news story about the Duanesburg school district and the questionable dissolution of an advanced organic-chemistry class was printed. An advanced-learning opportunity was taken from six students who appeared before the Board of Education and begged the board to continue their class.

The superintendent posted to the school website that the class was too hard and students weren’t ready for it. Ironically the class in question was presented to, and accepted by, the Duanesburg Board of Education, which included a current senator who is on the committee for education — twice!

In 2010, $3 million was stolen from the Duanesburg school account and $497,200 was never retrieved. Last year at the Board of Education’s “Meet the Candidates” night, an incumbent was asked if his wife was still suing the district.

If these things aren’t enough to discourage a person from running for a Board of Education seat, I don’t know what is. Could it be that people just aren’t going to support or partake in the “politics” anymore?

Rita Peters


Changes needed in Ballston Spa school district

What gives with the Ballston Spa Central School District’s Board of Education and administration?

I can’t begin to imagine how they can justify a nearly 6 percent increase in spending in their proposed 2014-15 school year budget. Nor can I understand how they rationalize a nearly 5 percent increase in the tax levy. This is absurd considering current economic conditions, or any other circumstances.

What needs to be explained is how the additional revenue generated by the existence of GlobalFoundaries within the district’s borders has been applied. It's the same old story: more money, more spending. How about some tax relief? Board President Jeanne Obermayer should be voted out. The budget should be defeated.

And please, board and administration, don’t insult the voting public’s intelligence by telling us it is all for the kids.

James E. Callahan

Ballston Spa

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May 17, 2014
11:48 a.m.
+0 votes
ronzo says...

James: Why do school boards come up with these egregious spending increases? Because through history, the odds are that the taxpayers (the ones who vote) have proven that they will have no problem voting themselves a tax increase. The school boards know it and don't need to go any further to control spending. They blame everyone but themselves for why spending must increase, and they get away with it because most people don't challenge their decisions. Those who do are thought of as the perennial complainers and generally ignored. The tax cap is a joke, as is most of the other phony rhetoric from the politicians about school spending and cost to taxpayers. The ones who complain the most are the ones who can least afford the taxes, but are over-ruled by those who don't mind paying the taxes, and by those who just don't care one way or another. The problem will not be addressed until the majority of taxpayers want change. Until then......

May 17, 2014
7:42 p.m.
+0 votes
jjhehir says...

Anne and Michael, the purpose of a union is to fight for increases in salary and benefits, and for better workplace conditions for its members. That is it.
The Niskayuna Teachers’ Association is a union and has no place endorsing Board of Education candidates. It should not be encouraged to do so.
The Niskayuna Teachers' Association will be negotiating salary and benefit increases with the Board of Education soon.
When persons at the other side of the bargaining table are beholding to a union that endorsed them, their ability to negotiate in good faith for the interests of students and taxpayers is diminished.

May 19, 2014
9:26 a.m.
+0 votes
Anne53065 says...

I fail to see how Deb Oriola voting to table closing a school is a "questionable decision" since the superintendent did not inform the board of a policy that needed to be followed in order to close a school. The superintendent is obligated to do this not the board telling her as per a policy on the books. Litigation would have ensued. Deb Oriola was one of the few board members last year who did not want to extend said Superintendents contract which should have expired June, 2014 instead 4 board members (one of whom was not re elected last year and should not have voted at all) voted to extend the contract until June 2015. Deb O realized the ramifications of closing a school after all. And what about that basketball coach who was not reinstated?? Well, he used questionable language around the children and Deb O as well as 3 other board members did not think it acceptable to him to continue. Go figure! We denounce bullying for children but accept it from the teachers? I don't think so. RPJ felt it acceptable to use Niska Day to further her campaign by riding in a float and handing out frisbees to children who don't even vote.


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