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Vote Cools, Hinds-Mason for Baldwin Board of Education

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All three candidates running for the two open seats on the Baldwin Board of Education possess skills that would make them a valuable asset to the school district, and the community would be in good hands with any of them on the board.

Our first choice in this race is easy: Incumbent Susan Cools should be re-elected. Cools has been a dedicated public servant over the past three years. Despite no longer having children in the school system, she is well aware of the local and statewide issues affecting Baldwin students.

Her presence in the school district extends beyond monthly board meetings. She is often seen exhibiting Baldwin pride at sports games and school assemblies.

Cools is also the school district’s bridge to the rest of Baldwin. All three candidates agree that Baldwinites should be more aware of what is happening in the school district, and there is nobody better suited to help inform the public than Cools.

Not only is she a longtime member of Baldwin’s Rotary Club and Chamber of Commerce, but her daughter, Samantha, is on the civic association’s executive board and her husband, John, is a longtime Baldwin firefighter and sanitation commissioner.

Our second choice was a much tougher decision. We, however, endorse Patricia Hinds-Mason over Tom Smyth. As president of the Concerned Parents of Baldwin, Hinds-Mason has spent years helping students and parents overcome struggles with bullying, testing and drug abuse through seminars and other events. She has promised to continue such programs as a school board trustee, while fighting for more academic opportunities for students.

We believe she will succeed in that mission. No one in this race knows more about education than Hinds-Mason. She has spent more than 35 years in the field, has administrative experience, both in general and in special education, and teaches education at Molloy College. Her decades of institutional knowledge would benefit Baldwin students and teachers alike.

We were impressed with Smyth. He is very involved in the district, and his financial expertise would benefit the board. He is also bilingual, which would be great for Baldwin’s rising Hispanic population. In the end, we thought Hinds-Mason was the stronger candidate. We hope Smyth remains active in Baldwin.

Approve budget, busing referendum

The school district’s proposed 2019-20 budget is $134 million. This year, though, the more important number is $151,000, the amount that would be added to the spending plan if voters approve a proposition to reduce the distance that elementary and high school students must live from their schools to receive busing from 2 miles to 1.5.

There is no reason to vote against this proposition. The minimum distance was set at 2 miles after a 2013 referendum, when the district was facing a financial crunch and needed to save money. Now, things are more stable, and additional transportation can be provided at minimal cost to taxpayers. The per-household cost was not provided.

We applaud the district for putting this proposition up for a vote, and implore Baldwinites to say aye. Children should not be forced to cross busy intersections to get to school, and parents should not have to struggle to form carpools to get them there and back, either.

At the same time, voters should approve the school district’s budget. The spending plan continues Baldwin’s innovative approaches to education — from offering multiple college-level courses at the high school to implementing new technology in every classroom.

Last, the Baldwin Public Library’s proposed $4.6 million budget receives our endorsement. As the library prepares to celebrate its centennial, administrators and the board of trustees have worked diligently to bring the system into a new age while holding the fiscal line. At a time when fewer paper books are being read, the library has found a way to increase circulation. Bravo to them, and we look forward to the next 100 years.

Library Trustee Joseph Carroll is running unopposed for his seat, but even if he faced opposition, we would likely give him our support. A dedicated public servant for more than 20 years, Carroll shows no signs of slowing down.