UTICA, N.Y. - Voters in the Utica City School District had a chance to meet the candidates running for the Utica school board race.
A forum was held at the Veteran's Outreach Center in downtown Utica to give the four candidates an opportunity to speak about their candidacy and for community members to ask specific questions.
The four candidates running for the Utica school board from are Robert Cardillo, William True, Braedon Nanna, and James Paul.
Robert Cardillo says some of his priorities include improving overall student performance and academic achievement, increasing access to quality education programs, and enhancing school security and safety.
Braedon Nanna's priorities are decreasing class sizes, updating text books, and increasing funding for classroom supplies as well as extracurricular activities.
James Paul says he will prioritize the needs of students, ensure greater transparency in the decision-making process, and create a healthier and more positive school climate.
William True, a Utica native, has promised a safe and orderly school environment for all students.
Many questions were asked by community members on a variety of topics including transparency, teahcer diversity, and the school boards involvement in the district.
Andy Zygmunt, a community member, attended the community forum to get to know more about the candidates.
"Well I feel that the candidates did give us some information but often were not answering the questions so in that regard I think I was a little bit disappointed," Zygmunt said.
All four candidates agree on many topics discussed, such as transparency.
"I think there are several major issues that the board has to deal with," Zygmunt said. "The first is transparency, we really don't know whats happening with the board."
The candidates also agreed that the school district needs more teacher diversity.
"A huge issue, and James Paul made a point of this, is teacher diversity," Zygmunt said. "We have no teacher diversity, we've got an extremely diverse student population and they need to see teachers that look like them."
A lot of questions were raised about the involvement of each candidate in the community and the school district. Each candidate said they will be be involved and advocate for students in the district.
"The school board, or at least the perception of the school board presently is that they aren't involved, that they're not activley working for the students," Zygmunt said. "They need to be advocates for the school distirct and so I think parents want to see more involvement from the school board."
The candidates will participate in debate at the Oneida County History Center on Thursday, May 9.
The school board election is on May 21.
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