While all are paying close attention to the School Board elections and the candidates running for those four seats, we must also remember that there are four City Council seats opening as well. “Seeking re-election are district Council members Carla Palumbo (northwest), Adam McFadden (south), Elaine Spaull (east), and Lovely Warren (northeast).”
This is important because Rochester is part of the “Big Five” dependent districts which means we are, “fiscally dependent on (our) respective cities and cannot levy taxes or determine independently how much (we) will spend.” All of that means that the citizens of Rochester do not get to vote on the Rochester City School District budget which means we have no power to influence district spending.
That power belongs to City Council. Since the introduction of the Contract for Excellence, City Council has never voted down a district budget. They claim that because of the CoE, Council has little say in the matter. Truthfully this is an excuse for Council members to neglect their duty to the Rochester public.
As public servants, City Council members should be present at every single budget hearing listening to the public views, questions, and suggestions on the RCSD budget. They were not there. Media attention to public opinion did cause City Council to delay their approval.
We must recognize that the problems of the district do not begin and end with the School Board but also involve our City Council members. It is as necessary to hold them accountable for their decisions as it is to hold the School Board accountable.
As citizens, it is our responsibility to know and understand the beliefs and attitudes of everyone who has influence in the education of our children. Candidate forums must be held for Council members as well as School Board members. Divergent, evaluative questions must be asked of all seeking to represent the voice of Rochester citizens. Answers must be clear and concise so that each elected leader can be held accountable to their constituency groups.
In a Democracy, accountability begins with the people, not the politician.
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