School board candidates participate in South Side forum
As a community, Syracuse will soon be electing officials that will aid in shaping the future of its children. The upcoming vote will decide which candidates will fill the four available seats on the Syracuse City School District Board of Education.
The electoral race is comprised of six candidates vying for the chance to have a place in shaping education in Syracuse. The candidates and community members gathered at the Southwest Community Center on the evening of Thursday, Nov. 3, to allow the community to meet and pose questions of intent to the candidates. The community center, located on South Avenue, played host to approximately 60 community members and five of the school board hopefuls. The evening’s forum was sponsored by Citizens Action of New York and the Association for Quality Education.
Forum moderator Julius Edwards opened the discussion by introducing the candidates. Present for the forum were William Bullen (D), Michelle Mignano (D), Delilah Fiumara (R-C-I), Stephen Swift (D) and Max Ruckdeschel (D-WFP). Republican candidate Edward Mclaughlin was not in attendance.
The candidates received a line of questioning posed by local citizen groups and by individual community members. Inquiries were made as to the position of each candidate would take on pertinent educational format, fiscal and disciplinary issues. The issue of school reform to raise the quality of education was raised on multiple occasions during the discussion.
“Our kids can do anything and they are not right now. We can do better,” stated Michelle Mignano on the topic of school reforms.
One question, above all else, generated electricity amongst the forum participants. It was the question of representation. The all Caucasian candidate pool rippled when asked how they would represent the diverse population base of the Syracuse City School District.
“The whole thing is about engaging the community. We can’t sit in our fancy board room in our fancy chairs, we have to get out there and meet the people” stated Stephen Swift in response to board representation of the community.
This viewpoint was the consensus amongst the candidates with all citing community involvement as the means to provide equal representation of all ethnic groups in the processes of the school board.
The forum allowed members of the community to meet potential members of Syracuse School Board and voice the concerns that are threaded into the fabric of educating the city’s children. The upcoming vote will serve to bring in new members to the board and new perspectives on the education of Syracuse’s future.
— Story and photos by Jeremiah Howell, The Stand Community Correspondent