It’s been a nearly silent campaign among the 13 candidate vying for the nine Board of Education seats that up for grabs this year – and that’s not sitting well with the mayor.
Candidates for the school board need to do a better job of addressing crucial educational issues before the Nov. 6 election, said Mayor William Stortz.
“We see very, very little discussion” among school board hopefuls about such pressing matters as whether to build two new kindergarten to eighth grade schools with 900 students each, and where they should be built if they are needed, the mayor said.
Stortz said that school board hopefuls, who serve four-year terms, will make crucial decisions about education that will ultimately mean more to Bristol than the fate of the downtown mall.
The mayor said that the candidates, political parties and the press need to do a better job of making voters aware of the choices they face.
“Education is one of the biggest factors in creating an image, and attracting people and businesses to come to Bristol,” said Stortz.
He said that the mall’s fate is “nowhere near as important as what is happening in education” when it comes to attracting people to town.
The quality of the school system, the mayor said, is a significant piece of the puzzle whenever people are deciding where to buy a house.
What the school board does to improve the schools “is critical to the city,” Stortz said.
“You want the best people on there,” the mayor said, and it doesn’t matter whether they are Republicans or Democrats.
Voters should tap the “best nine” to serve, no matter what political affiliation the candidates have, Stortz said.
The mayor said the candidates and political parties need to do more to get the school board candidates’ names and positions out to the voters.
He said that candidates may not have much money, but they can still send press releases to the papers that may enlighten voters about where they stand.
“There could be ways to get the issues out,” Stortz said.
He said parent-teacher organizations could organize forums, the media could do better in seeking out information and publishing it, and the political establishment could do more to get information out to the voters.
“Both the parties and the candidates have a responsibility,” Stortz said.
Even if the Charter Revision Commission urges a return to an appointed school board, Stortz said, the school board members elected in November will serve out their entire terms, meaning they’ll be the decision-makers until 2011.
Who’s running for the Board of Education?
Barbara Doyle, incumbent
Julie Luczkow, incumbent
Tom O'Brien, incumbent
Jane Anastasio, incumbent
Chris Wilson, incumbent
Amy Coan, incumbent
Working Families candidate
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