Niagara Gazette

Local News

May 2, 2013

School board seat battles brewing in Falls, Niagara-Wheatfield

Niagara Gazette — With less than three weeks until taxpayers make important decisions about the future of local education, school board candidate positions have been also been finalized.

Niagara Falls City School District is where most of the competition exists this year, with six candidates seeking two seats.

Seeking reelection will be incumbents Don King, a 35-year veteran of the city's school board, and the Rev. Kevin Dobbs, himself a three-term member. Challenging them will be North Tonawanda School District administrator Ronald Barstys, former City Councilman Michael S. Gawel, city electrician Anthony Paretto and resident Herbert Lewis.

Both positions are five-year terms.

Along with the school board election, Niagara Falls residents will also be asked to decide on a spending plan of $124 million spending plan which, if approved, would increase the tax levy the district will seek by 3 percent.

The increase would be the first in 20 years in the city.

Niagara-Wheatfield also has some competition for its school board brewing. After the resignation of Michael Brock, former board member Lori Pittman was appointed to fill in.

Pittman is seeking a fresh term, while being challenged by both Amy Duell of Sanborn and Lorna Tilley-Peltier of Wheatfield.

Current board member Kathy Fleming is not seeking a new, three-year term.

Because of Brock's resignation, the district's election will be slightly different than normal. The candidate which receives the most votes will immediately fill the seat currently held by Pittman, while the second-highest tally will guarantee a seat beginning in July.

While deciding candidates, voters will also be asked to make a decision whether to support a $62.8 million, which includes a 5.91 percent tax levy increase proposal, the maximum the district can ask for under New York's cap.

Much of the drama for Lewiston-Porter voters come May 21 will focus on financial matters. With three school board positions opening, only three candidates submitted petitions to seek election before the deadline last month.

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