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Serena Samuels is one of two candidates challenging incumbent Alex Johnstone in wards 11 and 12 in the Oct. 27 municipal election.

Ancaster-Glanbrook-Winona trustee candidate Serena Samuels sees plenty wrong with Hamilton school board, incumbent Alex Johnstone

Decisions ignore community, religious values, Samuels says

By Richard Leitner, News Staff

Serena Samuels isn’t shying away from criticizing the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board or the trustee she hopes to replace in this fall’s municipal election.

The Ancaster resident, who is running in wards 11 and 12, says she believes the board and incumbent Alex Johnstone are out of touch on issues like school closures, spending priorities, equity and teaching values that conflict with people’s religious faith.

She said if elected, she will push for greater transparency and accountability on decisions, especially those involving the money she believes could help preserve neighbourhood schools but is being wasted elsewhere.

“If we reallocated the funds appropriately, I think there’s more than enough,” said Samuels, 28, suggesting an immediate 10 to 15 per cent cut in the board’s central administration as a good start.

“And work with the community as well. There are ways that the school board is able to raise money to find the funds to maintain the schools and I think we can do that.”

A medical student at a private American university, Samuels is the third candidate to register for the Oct. 27 vote, joining Johnstone, 31, and Ancaster resident Mike Bell, 36.

She said although Johnstone has worked hard, she feels the first-term trustee “is a bit disconnected from the community” on school closures and parental values.

The first-time candidate said she favours reestablishing the interfaith advisory committee the board disbanded last year and is a believer “in real equity” for everyone, including those sharing her Christian faith, who “have been taken down a notch.”

“A lot of families feel that (way), for example, with regards to sex-ed curriculum or with regards to the students’ ability to display their faith in school,” Samuels said.

“They’re not really allowed to do that and then we’re embracing a lot of other values and a lot of other faiths and cultures, and I think that really everyone should be allowed to be who they are in school, not just other faiths, not just other sexual orientations,” she said.

“With having enforced teaching of something when your family does not hold that same ideal, it kind of isn’t equity, either.”

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