NORTH CREEK In a ritual as old as modern public education, candidates for office stood before their peers a final time to win votes.
Were these aspirants for Johnsburg Central School student council, there would have been altruistic pledges, nervous giggles, supportive shouts by cliques and pockets of carefully cultivated boredom.
Had this been a Johnsburg school board election or budget meeting of two years ago, the building's cafetorium would have been crowded and politically charged.
But the combined board-candidate and budget meeting Monday, May 7, was neither. A small audience, still as tap water, listened to three of the four candidates vying for two open three-year board of education seats. Each recited their qualifications, pledged fealty to student achievement and made plain their oneness with struggling taxpayers.
There was no applause.
Speaking this week were Rachel DeGroat, Tony Moro and incumbent Mark Richards. Candidate Amy Sabattis was out of town and could not attend.
Though stiff at the podium, DeGroat tacked with charm: “There’s nothing special about me.” She said that like everyone in the district, she cared deeply about the school and the community.
DeGroat focused on the intimate size of Johnsburg Central and of many of its classes, a trait that increasingly harsh economics might reverse.
“I understand that the future will be different,” she said, that a great deal of effort will be needed just to maintain the aspects that DeGroat said make the school special. She said hers is a single-income home that knows the impact of tax levies. DeGroat pledged to find a balance between performance, culture and revenue.
Moro, author of several divisive and accusatory campaign ads attacking the board and administration of misleading and obfuscating, seemed to understand that he might be hampering his own efforts.
He speaks with bone-deep certitude about district spending that he says is extravagant and lacking in accountability. Citing his research, Moro says student performance is being subordinated to union and administration interests.