Niagara Gazette

Local News

May 19, 2013

Falls school board election offers plenty of choices for voters

Niagara Gazette — Who’s going to fill two empty seats on the Niagara Falls City School Board?

That’s the question entering Tuesday’s district budget vote and election, with six candidates vying for two openings on the nine-member board.

Incumbents Don King and the Rev. Kevin Dobbs are seeking to maintain their hold on those seats, ones King has held for 35 years and Dobbs 16. But challengers Michael Gawel, Ronald Burstys, Anthony Paretto and Herbert Lewis believe they would best serve the city’s residents.

King has maintained throughout his campaign he’s interested in helping the district overcome several hurdles it could face in the next five years, the length of each term. He said possibly hiring a new superintendent, developing social media policies, fighting truancy and finding ways to encourage emotional intelligence in students all could come up in the next few years. King is married to his wife, Betty, and has four daughters who’ve all graduated from Niagara Falls High School.

Both King and Dobbs have heavily opposed the reduction of district voting places, which passed with controversy in December reducing the number from 24 to eight as the two were lining up reelection campaigns.

Dobbs champions his involvement in three of the district’s schools – Cataract and Niagara Street elementaries and the district’s high school – and sees the district in need of more resources to produce a higher graduation rate.

Both Dobbs and King were uncontested their last election in 2008.

Challenging them is a slew of new faces. Gawel, who’s previously served as a city councilman, has experience as an accountant and tax advisor and said he believes this will assist him if elected. He’s championed change, saying the district isn’t working as is at a recent candidate’s forum. Citing the district’s current standing in Buffalo Business First’s rankings of school districts (92 of 97), which is based on test scores and performance, he said the old ideas just aren’t working.

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