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LAST-MINUTE MAILINGS MAY HAVE SWAYED VOTERS

I am writing about the recent defeat of the proposal put before the voters of the Cattaraugus Central School District to annex the neighboring school district, Little Valley Central School.

Unfortunately, my decision to vote yes was not shared by the majority of the voters and the proposal was defeated.

As unhappy and confounded as I am, I am not writing to protest the outcome. In a democracy, everyone is entitled to an opinion and to the sanctity of the voting booth. Each of us has his or her own reason for voting as we do.

I am, however, writing to protest the tactics of those who organized and ran a negative campaign.

These people came out of the woodwork at the last minute, sending spurious documents through the mail to spread false information. By waiting until the last minute, they intentionally silenced any chance for a meaningful dialogue or rebuttal.

Many of these naysayers did not bother to come to the many public meetings that were held.

In their mailings, they posed questions to which only someone with a crystal ball could honestly reply for the simple reason that in a newly configured district, any decisions would be made by a new school board.

In addition, they cynically worried that the state would not come through with promised funding, ignoring the reality that all municipalities and schools plan budgets based on promised funding from the state.

It is also disturbing that the no-vote organizers continue to reach out to the Amish community to help them in their efforts to defeat school proposals by transporting them to the polling site. The Amish, as district residents, have a right to vote. But since the Amish do not generally attend public school meetings or send their children to public schools, I wonder how well-informed they are on the issues.

I cannot understand why any taxpayer in our district -- many of whom have happily accepted farm subsidies while complaining loudly about school taxes -- would walk away from the millions of dollars the state is offering to small districts, such as ours, that are struggling to offer students a quality education.

But then, these negative organizers have demonstrated that the vision they hold for the future of the Cattaraugus Central School District is actually no vision at all.

I call on the forward-looking members of my community to contact members of the Board of Education to express their support for another vote.

Candace S. Broughton
Cattaraugus

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