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Who can best fill the ECSD board seat?

By Griffin Major
April 27, 2016

For the last couple of years, the Eldred Central School District (ECSD) has undergone some serious changes relative to the prosperous 2000s. Many decisions have been made recently by the ECSD Board of Education that have directly—and indirectly—led to problems such as rapidly declining enrollment, deficits, and the loss of student and faculty pride. With all of these issues, it is no surprise that many ambitious parents have stepped up to run for the board of education seat this upcoming May 17.

For a long time prior to early 2015, the ECSD Board of Education was not the highlight of the town’s discussions, as it is currently. Board meetings had been very low-key, not terribly interesting to sit through; the board’s decisions and discussions were typically noncontroversial and concluded with unanimous votes. But though talk in the community was subdued, many residents have not been particularly happy with the way things have been going for many years.

Every year, Eldred’s financial situation has been worsening, which has made residents who have not moved away extremely upset with the school district. Since the board went to a contingency budget in 2011 with the addition of a $2 million give-back, school district revenue has been set back many years, and this has limited the district in a number of ways. To fix these issues, the board needed to approach the future budgeting process in a more meticulous and detailed manner. When the board asked the taxpayers in 2014 for a multi-million dollar bond coined “the sports referendum,” the taxpayers came out in flocks to vote it down due to the realization that the board has exercised little care with regard to the budgeting process and taxpayers.

When taxpayers came out in such unforeseen proportions in 2014, they began to rebuild a long-diminished bridge between the school board and community. In the following spring of 2015, the community came out in droves to elect parent and taxpayer Brian Siegel to continue the movement that they had started that previous winter. Siegel’s election generated a 91% increase in votes from the previous board election, which was credited to the fact that his campaign was the one of the first contested elections in a decade. Although some people disagree with some of Siegel’s efforts, there is no doubt that he has reinvigorated community interest and has set the dominos falling, inviting more change in the future.