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Highlands School Board race: a vote for civility

Voters sent a strong message to Highlands School Board on Tuesday.

They tossed out two of the board's majority faction -- Chris Salego and Bruce Figler -- in favor of a write-in slate.

Former Athletic Director Bill Heasley and former board member Karen Wantland compiled an impressive 3-1 vote margin over the incumbents.

Incumbent Laura Thimons won re-election, however, if unofficial returns hold, in a very close vote with write-in challenger Jeff Calarie.

So the new board apparently will have no clear majority. Which may be just what the doctor ordered.

There will be four board members allied with each of two different factions. And in Tarentum, Carrie Fox won and she is not allied with either faction. She will be a swing vote.

Residents deserve nine members who don't always vote in set factions. They need independent advocates who fight for the best education for students -- but who listen to the taxpayers, too.

The board majority lost two years ago in large part because it didn't listen to taxpayers. They built an expensive new $4 million football stadium that many taxpayers felt was excessive and which we opposed. Building renovations and updates every 20 years usually require tax increases, and taxpayers understand that. But not Taj Mahal additions.

We call on both sides to put down their swords.

This election was a mandate for civility. Residents are tired of the public bickering -- and that goes for both factions.

Discuss issues rationally -- and have the courage to admit a member from the other faction is right sometimes.

Stop the personal attacks and refighting last year's battles. Hire based on qualifications for the job, not on who someone knows. Agree to disagree on some issues and move on.

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