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Mascot, management bring out Lancaster voters on both sides

A steady stream of Lancaster residents headed to vote at the high school this morning amidst controversy about divisiveness within the district, the abandoned Redskins team name and district management.

“There’s so much ugliness going on. It’s not nice,” said one voter who declined to give his name.

School Board candidates ranged from a pair fiercely opposed to the board majority and the superintendent to pro-board candidates as well as an independent, Kristi Perillo-Okeke. She was Tracey Maw’s choice, in part because she intended to stick with the name Legends, which replaced the more traditional – and controversial – Redskins name and mascot.

“It’s time to move away from that and focus on the issues: Educating the kids,” said Maw, pausing along the sidewalk lined with candidates and signs.

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Another voter, and former School Board member, voted against the budget without voting for a single candidate. The Redskins name didn’t matter to Debra Simme as much as how district money was slated to be spent.

“I want to see the money go directly to the children,” she said, explaining that she didn’t think it should go to expenses like health insurance for retired staff.

“This could be going for a teacher’s aide … Something for the kids,” she said. “When most of it’s going to salary and benefits, I don’t like that.”

Further down the sidewalk, Colleen Kilanowski talked with the opposition candidates that she supported. She wanted a process change. The rush to abandon the Redskins name and to adopt Common Core standards upset her because educators seemed to be scrambling without sufficient guidance.

“The way they implemented it was awful,” she said. “Teachers need to feel supported.”

She said it was as if everyone was saying, “Hey we have to do this. Let’s do it now.”

While Lancaster made news this year for the strident tenor on the divided board, she said last year was worse. Now, she said, people need to collaborate more.

“I think they need to grow up and work together,” Kilanowski said of board members.