The Frontier School Board this week stopped short of reducing its five polling sites to just one location.
The issue is stirring its share of controversy at the board level. On one side are those who think it makes sense to pare the number to save $10,000 or more as a budget savings instead of cutting educational programming. On the other are those who fear voter turnout, particularly from senior citizens, will drop.
Some board members leaned toward letting voters decide what they want by putting it up for a vote in May.
Board member Jack Chiappone put forward a motion this week for the district to down-ize to one polling site, but board debate reignited and, in the end, the board backed off from voting on the change. Instead, it tabled the issue until the Oct. 16 board meeting.
“I do not want you to make a decision without coming up with all the facts,” Superintendent James C. Bodziak said after listening to board comments and urging the board not to rush its decision. “What I’ve heard around the table are some excellent points.”
The board has until Jan. 8 to decide on the issue. For years, Frontier has offered voting at Blasdell Elementary School, Frontier High School, Woodlawn Fire Hall, Cloverbank Elementary School in Hamburg and Pinehurst Elementary School in Lakeview.
Newly appointed student board member Hannah Booth, who is not allowed to vote, favored the idea of downsizing to one polling site. “I think people who want to vote will come out to vote and it will save money,” she said.
“I agree with the idea to save money, but I think it’s senior citizens who will be enraged,” board member Thomas Best Jr. said. “I’d like to see more people in the district vote. … I can’t, in my conscience, vote for one [polling] district without people having a say.”
Board member Jeremey Rosen, who pushed to table the matter, said the district should make voting as convenient as possible for residents. “They won’t travel halfway across the Frontier School District to go vote. People have very busy schedules,” he said. “It will hurt us on our budget [approvals].”
In other business, the board:
• Appointed a new school business manager by hiring Richard F. Calipari at $95,000 in base salary, beginning Oct. 15. Calipari succeeds Richard Binner, who retired recently. Calipari most recently has been working as deputy comptroller for the City of Buffalo and previously worked in the administration of the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority, handling cash management.
• Approved annual professional performance review plans for its teachers and principals, in agreement with their respective unions.
“The ultimate goal of the state Education Department’s teacher and principal evaluations is to improve student achievement to get them college and career ready,” Bodziak said. “There is a lot of apprehension by teachers and principals viewing this as a way to get rid of them. This is not going to be a ‘gotcha.’ We’re not after people to get rid of them,” he said, “but want to make good teachers great teachers, and good principals into great principals.”