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Candidates for Ken-Ton School Board reflect Kenmore concentration

The Kenmore-Town of Tonawanda School District will soon have a board composed only of residents who live in and around the Village of Kenmore. Five candidates are running for three seats in the May 17 election.

Two schools located in the village – Roosevelt Elementary and Kenmore Middle – are scheduled to close at the end of the school year.

Candidates were at a loss to explain the concentration in and around Kenmore, but said trustees must represent the entire district.

“The students are students,” said Dawn M. Stinner, the Ken-Ton Parent Teacher Student Association Council president. “It doesn’t matter if they’re in a Kenmore school or a Tonawanda school. We’re Ken-Ton, and every decision you make is based on the students.”

Also running are Christopher E. Pashler, a Kenmore lawyer; Thomas J. Reigstad, an emeritus professor of English at SUNY Buffalo State; and Christine Cavarello, one of the leaders of a group called Ken-Ton Advocates for Student-Centered Learning.

Trustee Bob Dana announced this month that he would not seek a third three-year term, but he reconsidered last Monday, the date that paperwork was due to the district clerk.

In addition, the two seats not up for re-election are both held by Kenmore residents – President Jill Y. O’Malley and Vice President Andrew S. Gianni.

All the candidates and current board members also hail from the Kenmore West High School side of the district, with the exception of Todd J. Potter Jr., who is not seeking re-election.

Earlier this year, Dana suggested expanding the size of the board to seven members, from five, as a way of attracting a more geographically diverse field of candidates, but that proposal never gained traction.

A Meet the Candidates Night sponsored by the League of Women Voters is scheduled for 7 p.m. May 5 in the community room at the Philip Sheridan Building, 3200 Elmwood Ave.

A key issue this election year includes the soured relationship between the district’s teachers and administration. The district is still reeling from the fallout of a School Board meeting April 12 that saw nearly 40 teachers criticize administrators publicly about a perceived lack of collaboration.

Teachers feel that the district is adhering too strictly to curriculum modules and that a culture of intimidation and paranoia has pervaded schools.

The district is also nearing full implementation of its consolidation plan, which Dana cited as one of the reasons he ultimately decided to run.

“We’re getting close to the end,” he said. “It’s actually going to take place. People are starting to get nervous.”