Ithaca, N.Y. — There are eight candidates vying for the open seats on the Ithaca City Schools District’s Board of Education, and, on May 19, voters will select four to serve on the board.

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On Wednesday evening, the eight candidates sat on stage at Beverly J. Martin Elementary School to answer questions as part of a community forum hosted by Village At Ithaca. About 60 people attended, including current board members and ICSD Superintendent Luvelle Brown.

Leon Lawrence, a former Village At Ithaca board member, moderated the discussion, and WRFI Community Radio broadcast the entire event live.

Some questions were prepared in advance by Village At Ithaca, and others were written on cards by audience members for all the candidates to answer.

Diversity and equality were clearly at the front of community members’ minds as many questions revolved around what the candidates would do to make Ithaca schools more inclusive and enable poor students and students of color to consistently excel at the level of white, affluent children in the community.

Candidates spoke about their own backgrounds and how they would use those experiences to combat inequality within the district. Many also suggested raising teachers’ pay to attract a more diverse staff, as well as casting a wider net to encourage people from all over the country to teach in Ithaca.

While candidates differed slightly on how to increase excellence within the district, almost all agreed on major issues, holding true to candidate Moira Lang’s opening warning that there “will not be extensive differences between candidates in the discussion.”

Moreover, many of the questions were so broad that it was difficult for candidates to reply with specific policies they would advocate for or concrete steps they would take to solve problems.

Current board members were able to tout Ithaca’s recent rank as the 443rd best high school in the nation, putting it in the 97th percentile of US high schools.

All candidates noted their background in education, whether as teachers or board members, and many mentioned their children who attend, or have graduated from, Ithaca schools.

In his closing statements, Dr. Sean Eversley Bradwell, who has served two terms on the BoE and is seeking a third, said, “this election is unusual because we’re all committed to the same goal. It’s going to be difficult on Tuesday.”

Here’s the full list of candidates:

  • Douglas L. Long
  • Jen Curley
  • Seth J. Peacock
  • Moira Lang
  • Eldred V. Harris JD
  • Sheryl L. Mauricio
  • Ann Reichlin
  • Sean Eversley Bradwell

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Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs

Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs is an intern with the Ithaca Voice. He can be reached at nbogel@ithacavoice.com.