A parent activist who has served as a watchdog during the past year has tossed his hat into the ring for a seat on the Baldwin-Whitehall school board.
Lou Rainaldi Jr., 45, of Whitehall, announced his candidacy this week for the nine-member board -- the same body which took a monumental amount of criticism from taxpayers last year for its actions involving a current board member.
A year ago, parents, including Mr. Rainaldi, began swarming board meetings by the hundreds after it was learned that board member Martin Schmotzer had been appointed to an administrative job in the district with no public input or discussion.
After the initial public outcry, Mr. Schmotzer resigned the $120,000-per-year job and retook his seat on the school board. Mr. Rainaldi and others were critical of the board's actions involving Mr. Schmotzer and other issues, such as a tax decrease last year.
The parent of two school-aged children, Mr. Rainaldi works full time as a software engineer but he spent several hours a day cleaning up what many residents see as a corrupt school board. He videotapes board meetings and posts them on the Internet.
He and other parents created a group called "Baldwin-Whitehall Citizens for School Board Excellence," at www.bwaction.com.
"I was deeply moved over the past year by what I have seen and heard from our school board. Many of you have stood with me as we told the board NO to the job creation and appointment," Mr. Rainaldi said in his announcement. "We watched as a 2 mill tax cut was advanced from board comments without any vetting and against the recommendation of the administration. Now, we are hearing that a tax increase will be needed in order to balance the budget along with the possibility of cuts to avoid using our fund balance."
Mr. Rainaldi said his goals as a board member would be increased transparency, public participation and professionalism.
"I believe there is so much more work to do in our district. After much thought and many calls from you, I have decided that I would like to have a seat on the school board. I ask for your support and help to sit on the board and represent you," said Mr. Rainaldi. "I feel that I can better help my fellow citizens and our students from a seat on the board."