Three vying for open Cambridge school board seat
CAMBRIDGE, N.Y. -- Among three candidates vying for a seat on the Cambridge Central School District Board of Education, two have prior experience and say they would be in favor of extending Superintendent Vince Canini's contract.
Boyd, Dupras, Santeramo
The candidates on the ballot for the Dec. 3 election are Donald Boyd, Brent Dupras and Douglas Santeramo.
Boyd and Dupras both served prior terms on the board, and both said they hope to turn things back around to the way they used to be -- with less conflict than the current board has experienced.
The five-member board has two vacancies, the result of recent unexpected resignations by Peggy McLenithan and former board president Dr. Kerri Brown. Only one seat will be filled by next month's election.
Current board members Paul Baker-Porazinski and Dr. Thomas Wolski have been outspoken in their recommendation that Canini be offered an extension of his contract.
Although the current superintendent contract is set to expire on June 20, 2014, following the resignations of both McLenithan and Brown the board has put the impending search for a replacement on a temporary hold, and could revisit Canini's candidacy.
"I know Vince to be honest, hardworking and an excellent businessman," said BOE candidate Don Boyd, who served two consecutive three-year terms ending in June 2010.
"Over the past year we have seen a very dysfunctional board, which has hindered the school's ability to focus on education," said Boyd, an economist who has spent the past 18 years as a senior fellow with the Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government in Albany and is the executive director of the New York State Budget Crisis Task Force.
"You're bringing people together with diverse points of view, you're not necessarily expecting them to agree," said Boyd, citing "an air of distrust," between the board and the current administration. "But this board has allowed their personal views to get in the way of what needs to be done."
"The role of the board is to set goals, support the administration and to hold them accountable. I want to be a part of trying to achieve that," said Boyd. "If I'm elected, I think the first thing I'd like to be a part of is reviewing Vince's [job performance]. It's always possible I could learn something different, but I expect to vote to extend his contract," said Boyd.
Dupras agrees, calling this "a strange era" for the school. "There has been so much turmoil lately," said Dupras. "I couldn't believe the lack of partnership that was being displayed -- the lack of unity," he said, recalling a recent chaotic board meeting.
"It's kind of childish and ridiculous," said Dupras, a sergeant with the Saratoga County Sheriff's Department. "If I could bring some continuity back to the board, I think that would be the goal."
Of the support Canini has received from the community, Dupras said, "He's obviously well-liked and successful. So, a good board member would say, ‘How can we make him a better superintendent? Let's look at this.'"
Dupras said he thinks the vote to extend the superintendent's contract "will definitely be revisited."
"I need all the information first," he said. "But when the community and so many of the teachers come forward and say what a great guy this is -- anybody who can sit there and listen to 30-year teachers and ignore their input -- there's something wrong going on."
Dupras and Boyd previously worked together during their time spent on the board, Dupras serving as both president and vice-president between 2003 and 2007. After running unopposed for reelection, Dupras resigned only one year into his second term citing missed meetings due to a difficult divorce.
This will be Dupras' first run for a seat on the board since stepping down, and since his 2010 arrest on charges stemming from a domestic incident in which he allegedly entered the home of his former girlfriend through a second-story window, according to a previous report by the Saratogian.
Dupras was charged with second-degree burglary and temporarily suspended without pay, before charges were reduced to criminal trespass and finally dropped after the victim recanted her statement, despite being given an order of protection.
Boyd has two children -- a son who is a senior at Cambridge Central School, and a daughter who is in the 10th grade at a private day school. Dupras also has two children, his daughter is a senior at CCS while his son is a freshman.
The third candidate, Santeramo, is a senior at CCS who will turn 18 by Dec. 4, the date the electee will take office, but could not be reached for comment.
Contact Khynna at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter @khynnakat.
TALK TO US
If you'd like to leave a comment (or a tip or a question) about this story with the editors, please email us. We also welcome letters to the editor for publication; you can do that by filling out our letters form and submitting it to the newsroom.