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Write-In Candidates Challenge BSpa School Board Incumbents

BALLSTON SPA- Two write-in candidates are running for the Ballston Spa Board of Education in Tuesday’s elections, looking to unseat school board members up for re-election.

The two insurgent candidates, Karen Parlapiano and Renee Mertens, are running in the May 19, 2015 elections.

Three BSpa School Board members — Nancy Fodera, Christine Richardson and Board President Kevin Schaefer — are up for re-election. The remaining four board positions are not open to challenges, as the Board’s three-year terms are staggered.

Mertens said in an interview with The Ballston Journal that parents’ choices to opt out of the Common Core tests should be honored.

Read about BSpa students refusing to take this years’ Common Core tests

Mertens, who has been involved in the anti-Common Core movement, said the tests given to fifth grade students were not age-appropriate.

Mertens late entrance in the race was stimulated in part by mental health questionnaires that were given to kindergarteners in the district.

Mertens said she was unhappy with the questionnaires and was concerned they did not provide information about the organization that had assembled them and other details.

In an interview with The Ballston Journal, Parlapiano voiced concern about last week’s emergency drill at Gordon Creek Elementary School.

Read about last week’s emergency drill

She said parents were “really alarmed” about the lack information provided to them.

Both candidates said they felt the 2015-2016 school budget was fair, though Mertens said future budgets should hire more teachers and thin out unnecessary staff position.

Read about the 2015-2016 budget

She said if cuts were necessary in the future, teacher positions should never be on the cutting board, instead suggesting the elimination of any programs that received negative responses in the schools.

Both candidates voiced support for extra-curricular activities.

Parlapiano called the activities “very important.”

Martens said a student not naturally talented in math or English should be allowed to excel in such areas as sports or music.

“There is more to life than strict academia,” said Martens.

Martens also touched on the issue of Laura Schmitz, the Ballston Spa High School Vice-Principal and International Baccalaureate Coordinator whose job is currently in limbo.

Read about students challenging the potential removal of Schmitz during the last BSpa Board of Education meeting

Martens called the situation “very heartbreaking,” but noted she had made the decision to run as a write-in candidate before the issue was known.

Parlapiano has been heavily involved in district PTAs for years, receiving the Distinguished Service Award in 2014 after serving as an officer for the Milton Terrace South and Wood Road Elementary School PTAs, the Northeastern PTA and the PTA Council.

Mertens has been involved in challenging the Common Core Curriculum.

Parlapiano ran unsuccessfully for a Board position in 2010, while Martens was in the process of applying last year before changing her mind due to unforeseen family issues.

The annual statewide School Budget Vote and Board of Education Elections will be held May 19, 2015 from 7:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m. Voting is held at the Malta Town Hall for Malta residents, or the Ballston Spa High School for residents of Milton, Ballston and Charlton.

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This news article was co-authored by Ballston Spa High School Senior and Student Intern, Morgan Zegers.

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