SARATOGA SPRINGS — The Saratoga Springs City School District will hold its annual school budget vote and Board of Education election on Tuesday, May 16. Voting will be open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. for all eligible voters. Polling places will be available at the Caroline Street, Division Street, Lake Avenue, Geyser Road, Dorothy Nolan and Greenfield Elementary Schools, according to the district website.
There are five candidates running for three positions on the board, all of which are three-year terms.
Krackeler is the current president of the SSCSD Board of Education, and is seeking a second term. He has three children in the district, and has lived in Saratoga Springs for 22 years.
Krackeler said school board work is “a labor of love,” and spoke of working to improve culture and climate within the district. He said the proposed budget for 2023-24 includes additional mental health and social services, and noted his wish to continue providing free meals to students regardless of ability to pay.
“I’ve definitely tried to make the most of what has felt like a quick three years. Inexplicably to some, I’d very much like to do this work for another term,” said Krackeler. “Good boards are composed of rational, collegial, and collaborative people who don’t need limelight or credit. I think I’m all of these things, and I think good boards are also served well by consistency, by people who have been able to build enduring relationships with the superintendent, teachers, and support staff.”
Krackeler voted against the motion to hire two additional SROs for the district in January. At the forum, he said “a full-spectrum view” must be applied for school safety, noting that SROs, along with counselors, social workers, monitors, and other school personnel all play a part in school safety.
“I’m asking the voters of the district to give me three more years to apply the things I’ve learned, and continue the many relationships I’ve nurtured for the good of all our students,” Krackeler said.
Dominguez has lived in Saratoga Springs since 2007, and has a child in the high school. She has volunteer experience for various organizations involved with backstretch workers at the Saratoga Race Course, she said, among other volunteer work.
“These experiences have helped me appreciate the value of working together to ensure all stakeholders are represented, meaning their voices and ideas are heard and considered during the decision making process, and work collaboratively with my colleagues to find a solution that will best serve those stakeholders,” Dominguez said.
Dominguez noted the importance of listening to teachers’ needs, and said parents should have access to books and materials to help “foster a healthy relationship and respect among all stakeholders.”
She also spoke in support of school resource officers, saying she was “thrilled” when the board voted to approve the hiring of two additional SROs for the district in January.
“School resource officers’ presence is essential for promoting a safe learning environment,” said Dominguez. “SROs are continuously building positive relationships with students, serving as mentors and role models.”
She said if elected, she would focus on safety, mental health, “a fair education for all,” preparing students for post-graduation, and building a strong partnership with the district community.
Emeka is running for her third term on the board. She has previously been elected vice president of the board, and has twice been elected as the board president. She is also currently vice president of the Adirondack Area School Board Association, and said she would hope to continue improving board governance practices if re-elected.
“I want to support all of those who work in our district to make the education every day happen. I want to work with our superintendent while holding the administration accountable. I want to be a small piece of bringing the best possibility for a great education to our students,” Emeka said.
Emeka cited the importance of following the district’s diversity, equity, and inclusion policy to frame decisions.
“Along with equity and inclusion, we have to have belonging. If we don’t belong, and if our students don’t feel like they belong, then they can’t learn,” said Emeka.
Emeka said she feels the district “does an excellent job” dealing with school safety. She had previously voted in support of SROs for the district, but voted against a motion to hire two SROs for the district in January. She also spoke of supporting teachers in an effort to help the district attract and retain educators.
“I do look forward to being reelected, because I bring to the table authenticity, not agenda,” Emeka said. “I serve with care, not chaos, and I am dedicated to the success of this district.”
Beth Fogarty Braxton
Braxton is a native of Saratoga Springs, and said her mother taught in the district for over 30 years. She has three children in the district, and works as the division chair of the SUNY Adirondack counseling department as a licensed mental health counselor.
Braxton said she has experience providing mental health services to students, and would look at many issues in the district through the lens of mental health. She spoke of the importance of the district’s DEI policy, saying it is “rooted in respect of others, and creating a sense of belonging for all members of a community.”
“I hold a belief that all children deserve to learn in an environment that is free of stigma and discrimination,” Braxton said.
She also said it is important to include teachers in mental health discussions, saying the teacher shortage is one of the reasons she chose to run. Braxton said one major part of school safety is “recruiting and retaining caring and highly skilled staff, educators, and administrators,” but did not say whether she supports the hiring of SROs.
“In my workplace, I teach. I taught through the pandemic,” said Braxton. “The pandemic, I feel like, acted as an accelerant to some of the issues we were seeing in the classroom. … While the board cannot impact the day to day operation of what’s happening in the buildings, the board can absolutely set the tone around those conversations and make this a priority as we discuss creating a safe and welcoming school culture for everyone.”
Sabanos is a graduate of SSHS, and currently serves on the Town of Greenfield Planning Board. He has a daughter who will soon be attending Greenfield Elementary, and said he is running “for the students who struggle.”
“I’m running for the students who’ve failed a class. I’m running for the students who have tripped and fallen, and who need that extra support,” Sabanos said. “In addition, I’m running for the teachers and faculty who choose to see the potential in every student, and who go above and beyond to encourage each student to find their path towards a successful and productive future. I’m running to give back to the district, which has given so much to me.”
Sabanos also commended the hiring of two SROs in January, saying that “schools and buses should be the safest places possible for every single occupant.” He said that he has no specific agenda, and would look to approve upon things such as transparency and efficiency within the board.
“I do not seek drastic change, or anything particular I’m looking to accomplish. What I’d like is to improve upon the board,” said Sabanos. “I think that I could help to do that, because I think that I bring a pretty diverse background and a good sense of representation of our community.”