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Petition again seeks to reduce Holley Board of Education

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 18 March 2014 at 12:00 am

Photo by Tom Rivers – The Holley Board of Education met on Monday evening. A petition seeks to reduce the size of the board from seven to five members. Pictured, from clockwise at lower left: school attorney Jeff Martin, BOE member Jack Welch, district clerk Connie Nenni, BOE President Brenda Swanger and BOE member Sal DeLuca.

HOLLEY – For the third straight school election, Holley voters will be asked to vote on a referendum about the size of the Board of Education.

Two years ago, voters approved shrinking the board size from nine to five members, a process that would have been phased in over three years. The measure barely passed in May 2012 in 395-to-392 vote.

Last year a new petition sought to stop the reduction at seven members, not going all the way down to five. Residents approved that referendum with a 350-to-257 vote last May.

Board member Jack Welch pushed the petition two years ago to reduce the board to five members. He again circulated a petition to shrink the board to five members. The petition had enough signatures and was filed by the deadline for the May 20 election, said Jeff Martin, the school district attorney.

“I just hope when this one is done we’re done for a while,” Brenda Swanger, the Board of Education president, said during Monday’s board meeting when the petition was accepted for the May 20 ballot. “We’re looking foolish in the community.”

Welch has noted many other similar-size schools, such as Kendall, function with five BOE members.

The BOE members are volunteers, and supporters of a bigger school board say more members bring more viewpoints and representation from the community.

Kellie Spychalski, a BOE member, said she didn’t like how Welch sought support for the petition by using what appeared to be district letterhead, which may have given residents the impression the district was behind the push for a board reduction.

“I’m very disappointed in the way this was brought to the board,” she said.

Spychalski also said last year’s vote showed strong support for keeping the board at seven members. But Welch said the vote two years ago actually had more yes votes, at 395, than the 350 who supported capping the board at seven members last May.

“This is just a continuation from two years ago,” Welch responded to Spychalski.