by Susan Mikula Campbell
The unusual tie vote for a one-year term on the Niagara-Wheatfield Board of Education was officially broken Monday when candidate Daniel Maerten dropped out of the running allowing Steven Sabo to take the seat.
Both Maerten and Sabo received 552 votes for fourth place in the May school board election, which meant a special election would have to be scheduled to determine which of the two would fill the one-year term left vacant by the resignation in February of board member Lori Pittman.
"I just can't see the district spending $6,000 for a special election for a one-year term," said Maerten, adding that he'd rather see the money go "back into the academic program for the kids."
"I wanted to flip a coin (with Sabo), but I guess it's not legal," he said.
Maerten, a Bergholz resident and N-W graduate who is active in many community organizations, said he has a good feeling for the community and feels he could be an asset for the school board. As of now, he does intend to run for election for a full three-year seat on the N-W board next year, as does Sabo.
N-W Superintendent Carl Militello said Sabo, as well as the top three candidates who won the three-year terms on the board, will be sworn in at the board's reorganization meeting at 7 p.m. July 13 at the Adult Learning Center in the high school.
Rich Halleen, David Breier and Christopher Peters, who ran on a platform of fiscal responsibility, accountability, and stopping wasteful spending, took the three-year seats held by Board President Bill Conrad, Vice President Michele Hoerner and Samuel Monin in the May elections.
A resident of the Town of Niagara for about three years, Sabo, 37, has been a teacher in the North Tonawanda School District for 15 years, currently teaching teach sixth grade English language arts and reading at Meadow Elementary School. He also is a sports coach. He and his wife, Laura, have two children, one attending kindergarten at Errick Road Elementary.
"I'm very excited and looking forward to serving the community and making sure the schools are progressing the way they should be," Sabo said this week.
Areas he especially wants to be involved in are student scores and transparency in school district administration.
He plans to work for ways to increase state test scores in English language arts and math at all grade levels.
During this year's budget preparation, many residents complained about board members and the superintendent going into executive session to discuss budget cuts necessitated by the large decrease in state aid. Residents, including the winning board candidates, said they wanted to be more involved in the process of what was cut and what stayed in the budget.
"I want to make sure this year the public sees everything that goes on," Sabo said.