School Board Candidates Nagpal, Friese, Hold First Campaign Event

News from the election front.

Smita Nagpal and Diane Friese, candidates for school board, kicked off their election campaign with their first official event Saturday. Friese and Nagpal are running a joint campaign for two open seats in November's election. Karen Delhey and Paul Hynek are also running a joint campaign.

Here is the press release submitted by the Friese/Nagpal campaign:

On Saturday, Smita Nagpal and Diane Friese held their first campaign event in their bid for the two open seats on the Saline Schools Board of Education. Nagpal and Friese, a local psychologist and a long-time educator, invited local supporters to join them in a meet and greet and campaign canvass. The event garnered about twenty supporters, several of which were Saline High School students.

The pair kicked off their joint campaign with a presentation about who they are and why they are running for the Board. Nagpal and Friese are both small business owners and parents of Saline graduates. Their platform is centered around the idea of collaborating with stakeholders to promote quality education and improve the school climate while ensuring the financial sustainability of the district. More specifically, they hope to bring focus to innovative education techniques, quality teaching, and a positive and engaging school climate.

During their opening presentation, Nagpal and Friese emphasized their belief that the Saline School District needs to refocus the dialogue on the needs of students. “Over the past few years, we have had a much-needed conversation on short-term financial solvency,” Nagpal said. “Now that we have achieved that solvency, we need to refocus on creating long-term fiscal sustainability and creating a long-term educational vision for the district that emphasizes student needs.” Friese, a long-time educator, echoed that sentiment, stating, “In this era of financial difficulty and funding cuts, there has been a lot of talk about our budget. We absolutely need to focus on financial sustainability. But in the process we have largely ignored the impact of those cuts on our students and our education system as a whole.”

The overall message of the campaign resonated with students. More specifically, many liked the idea that teachers evaluations should look at more than simply standardized test scores. “I think the education of a student is much more than just a score on a test,” said Natalie Wysocki, a rising Senior and Track Captain at Saline High School. “Throughout my seventeen years in Saline, I've had teachers and coaches that have inspired me, taught me how to think through problems, and helped me learn life skills. Those are the people I remember, and those lessons are what I think will help me be successful in life.”

Over the course of about two hours, the candidates and their supporters knocked on the doors of numerous Saline community members, talking about their views and engaging people in discussion about issues facing Saline Schools. Interim campaign manager Aaron Mukerjee talked about why community support is so important to this campaign. “If we can engage our community, if we can show people that this is less about an election and more about a positive vision for our district,” said Mukerjee, “then we can not only build support for our campaign, but more importantly we can build support for our schools, our kids, and our future.”

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