Johnsburg School Board candidate’s advertisements questioned

— Anger is growing in the Johnsburg Central School District over election ads that accuse the board of keeping financial and student-performance secrets from the community and kowtowing to its unions.

For a second straight board meeting, residents have asked board members and Superintendent Michael Markwica about the ads, paid for by school board hopeful Tony Moro and published in the News-Enterprise.

In the ads, Moro lays sins of omission and commission at the district's feet. It's a varied list of grievances that together alleges the board withholds studies that he says show Johnsburg students underperform and tax money is wasted. Moro's ads also accuse the board of ceding too much power to teachers and faculty and their unions.

Just as at the April 16 board meeting, retiree Moro attended the April 30 meeting, listening as parents of district students defended the district. Unlike the previous meeting, when Moro addressed accusations to the board, he sat silent as audience member Brian Richards pointedly and repeatedly asked him to defend statements in his ads. Richards' brother, Mark Richards, is on the school board.

After the board left the regular meeting this week for an executive session, Moro asked Richards, "Why didn't you call me at home" before the meeting, and encouraged him to do so in the future.

Though affable, Moro's conviction that money must be stripped from the school budget and unions declawed in order improve test scores grates vocal segments of the community.

During an interview with Moro after the board meeting, a calm but agitated Brian Richards interrupted to ask Moro again to back up his claims.

“I can’t just pull it out of thin air,” responded Moro, adding that he hadn't brought supporting research to the meeting. “Why should I?”

Richards said, “You are making points that are skewed, lack credibility or wrong. You had the opportunity to make your case and you didn’t take it.”

Moro said he would make his case May 15, the day the community votes on the budget and on four candidates for two open board seats now held by Mark Richards and Frank Morehouse Jr.

Richards is running for re-election; Morehouse is not. Moro is joined by two other board challengers: Amy Sabattis and Rachel DeGroat.

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