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2 candidates seek one seat in election

Joseph Marinello Jr. of LaSalle Avenue, a disabled former paramedic, is challenging School Board member Vincent A. "Jimmy" Cancemi Sr. of McKoon Avenue in the May 15 election.

It is the only seat on the nine-member board to be filled in this year's election.

Cancemi, who is completing his first term on the board, is a retired special education teacher with 25 years of experience and is the owner and operator of Cancemi Furniture Co., a longtime fixture on Pine Avenue and now on Sixth Street.

He submitted an election petition signed by 369 supporters.

Marinello, whose petition contains 126 signatures, said he is seeking election because he sees "a correlation between the economic decline of Niagara Falls and the failing system of public education." He also said he would seek repeal of the rule that requires city school district employees to live in the city.

School District Clerk Ruthel Dumas said Thursday that Cancemi and Marinello are the only candidates who filed nominating petitions by Wednesday's deadline.

School Board members serve five-year terms without pay.

All 24 regular polling places throughout the city will be open for the School Board election and budget referendum. The proposed $122.4 million budget for the 2012-13 school year requires no change in the present tax rate of $18.896 per $1,000 of assessed valuation, marking the 19th consecutive year without a school property tax increase.

Meeting Thursday evening, the School Board adopted a new, stronger policy on dealing with head injuries suffered by student athletes. A new law, to take effect July 1, will require every school district in the state to take better precautions in handling suspected concussions among students.

Deputy School Superintendent Mark Laurrie said, "Our new policy exceeds the state regulations, and we want to start this as early as next week."

School Superintendent Cynthia A. Bianco asked the board to adopt the policy quickly "for the safety of our students."

The policy was explained by Tony Surace, a certified athletic trainer for the schools and director of sports medicine at Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center.

The policy requires an injured student to sit out the rest of the game or practice session; to be examined by the schools' medical inspector, Dr. Michael Beecher; to be sidelined for several days and not return to play or practice until free of any symptoms of injury.

In other business, the board:

*Authorized Bianco to negotiate a contract with Cannon Design Inc. for architectural services in preparation for a capital construction program of new construction, renovation and site work at all of its facilities and properties, to be submitted to voters in a special referendum Sept. 25.

*Reviewed a schedule calling for selection in June of a construction manager for the capital construction program.

*Learned that Pro Football Hall of Famer Thurman Thomas, a running back for the Buffalo Bills from 1988 to 1999, will be the keynote speaker at the annual Parents and Partners Dinner at 5:30 p.m. May 10 in the Performing Arts Center at the high school, 4455 Porter Road.

*Heard a report on a district-wide program to "take a stand against racism," with anti-racism activities in each school.