In 2010, only 6,256 people voted in the Buffalo School Board elections held in May. A News editorial recently endorsed changing this election from May to the November general election, which is something that I proposed in two consecutive legislative sessions. This change would increase voter turnout and save taxpayers money.
The School Board helps determine the overall quality of education by both setting the standards for teaching and creating the budgets that govern the teacher-student ratio. Perhaps of most importance, it appointed the new superintendent who will run the 30,000-student district. Buffalo needs to improve its educational system to compete in the state and the nation for good jobs and a sound, growing economy.
The Senate voted to pass my bill, S.2478A, on May 15 and also passed it in 2011. This bill would save taxpayers $100,000 because now elections would be held once in November instead of a separate election in May. This legislation died both years in the Assembly.
One must wonder how such essential school tasks can fall to a body elected by less than 4.1 percent of the population. Why do we as citizens accept the will of a small majority, probably strongly influenced by powerful interest groups? If our children’s futures are at stake, should not more people be involved in the selection of those who will decide how we spend our money and who is entrusted with educating these young minds?
I will continue to work to get this done, and I will again push my colleagues in the Assembly to support this measure. I get it, the Senate gets it, but the Assembly still does not. Please contact your Assembly members today and get them on board.
Sen. Mark Grisanti
New York State Senate