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Hamburg community petitions delivered to education commissioner

HAMBURG — The following article was submitted to The Sun by Candy Ditkowski of Hamburg Education Information.

A petition drive of community support for change has been launched, in a stated effort of telling the Hamburg Board of Education that it will be held accountable to the school district’s community for its actions.

Petitions were delivered to New York State Commissioner John King, from Hamburg Education Information.

They noted that 1,248 citizens of the Hamburg Central School District support an outside investigation of recent district board of education actions; 1,248 citizens support the resignation of Hamburg Board of Education Member Sally Stephenson; 1,218 citizens support the resignation of Hamburg Board of Education Member Holly Balaya and 1,213 citizens support the resignation of Hamburg Board of Education Member Catherine Schrauth-Forcucci.

This was the first submission of the petitions that were circulated during the past three weeks. The collection of signatures in support of these actions is ongoing and another set will be delivered, no later than the end of January.

Hamburg Education Information began as an independent group of seven parents who met in July, after a community meeting was held at a playground, in response to concerns about Hamburg Board of Education actions that were taken in early July, after newly elected board members were seated.

The group has reported that it has a goal of gathering and distributing information to the community, as well as supporting Hamburg schools and the local board of education.

The members have spoken, during the board’s public expression period, to ask questions and voice concerns. A Facebook page was also developed, to disseminate information and encourage the community’s attendance at board meetings.

The group reported that its concerns have been presented to the Hamburg Board of Education, but have received no response.

A community meeting, held in September at Erie 1 Boards of Cooperative Education Services in West Seneca, was attended by more than 100 members of the Hamburg community.

Hamburg Education Information currently includes parents, community leaders, local government officials, teachers, administrators, parent-teacher-student association members, taxpayers and business owners.

“As a group, we operate on a group consensus, with each citizen using their own talents for the advancement of our goals,” Ditkowski said. “Our original goal remains the same.

“However, as previously referenced, we believe that a change is needed of the community’s representation and leadership on the Hamburg Board of Education, to prevent possible damage to our highly successful school district,” she added. “It is our belief that our problem does not lie within the Hamburg Central School District, but specifically within the Hamburg Central Board of Education.”

The next community meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Jan. 23 at The Hub on McKinley Parkway.

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