SARATOGA SPRINGS — The Saratoga Springs School District (SSSD) just began their campaigns for new members to sit on their board of education. Thursday, Feb. 28, the Saratoga Parents for Safer Schools (SPFSS) announced their three members whose names are on the ballot this spring.
The Saratoga Golf and Polo Club was filled with 150 attendees at the sold-out “Meet the Candidates,” event for the SPFSS to announce their representatives to run for the board of education. Retired Coast Guard Captain Ed Cubanski, Dean Kolligian, vice president of security of Adirondack Trust and Connie Woytowich, a high school teacher at Colonie Central High School are the three candidates who are being endorsed by the SPFSS.
This past year, school safety has once again been a hot button issue nationally following the school shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Specifically, in SSSD, controversy arose when the school board decided to disarm the grounds monitors in the district when it came to light that the monitors carrying their concealed handguns were in violation of a new New York State law.
While safety is not the only focus among the candidates, the SPFSS is a group that was vocal about their disagreement with the way the school board came to the decision to disarm the grounds monitors.
"At the time I think it was a knee jerk reaction to make the decision to disarm them. I think there needed to be a lot more education, a lot more research done,” said Kolligian. “At the end of the day they may have come to the same conclusion, right or wrong, but education, research - that's the biggest opportunity anyone has to become more knowledgeable of any topic."
Cubanski agrees that education on the matter is the best place to start when making decisions regarding the school year.
"When I get elected - when we get elected - I’m going to ask questions,” said Cubanski. “I'd love to have a survey with the teachers. What are the things we should concentrate on?"
As a current teacher herself, Woytowich states, "my overall approach is 100 percent academic. It's about teachers and students and what happens in that classroom. Safety is a part of what can happen in that classroom."
John Brueggeman and Natalya Lakhtakia, both Skidmore college employees, have joined the race as well. The Board of Education has three members whose terms will be up in 2019. The election date for the school board seats will be Tuesday, May 21, 2019.