Letters to the Editor: 5/4/17

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A Vote for Kerr

Dear Editor,

As an East End resident, with a deep interest in education, I would like to urge the Sag Harbor community to vote for January Kerr for the Sag Harbor School Board.

Having known January and her family personally and professionally for over 12 years, I can say, without reservation, that her intellect, professionalism and humanity will give the Sag Harbor School a worthy and dedicated addition to the board. She will give each issue a thoughtful and considered review.

And, one can be sure that her interests are based on the values that our community demands from our leaders, foremost being the quality of children’s education, the safety of our kids, and with a deep regard for our social and physical environment.

Please vote for January Kerr for the Sag Harbor School.

Sincerely,

Philippe Cheng

Bridgehampton

 

Winning Combination

Dear Kathryn,

The school board elections will be upon us in a few weeks. We are so fortunate to have such exceptional schools in the village and to have so many exceptional residents prepared to step up and offer their services as members of the board. I believe that any representative board should be composed of a balanced combination of valued experience and new perspectives. For that reason I would like to see Diana Kolhoff, our current school board president, re-elected, and joined by January Kerr and Alex Kriegsman. Diana, January and Alex, a winning combination for our children!

Aidan and Louise Corish

Sag Harbor

 

Dysfunctional Board

To the Editor,

I am a parent of four, local business person, kids coach, and husband who has lived in Sag Harbor for 18 years.  My wife, Maria, and I are caring parents who send our children to the Sag Harbor public schools. In fact, our oldest got into an Ivy League school two years ago from Pierson. We currently have a son in high school, a daughter in middle school, and a son in the elementary school. We have been very happy with the level of education that our children have received here. The teachers and administrators have continuously pushed themselves and raised the bar yearly. We couldn’t ask more from them.

However, I am deeply concerned about the upcoming board of education election. For years, I was quiet and on the sidelines. This until the recent contract renewal for Katy Graves came to light. I learned through FOILing information from our school district, which I had to do because our current BOE lacks transparency. What I learned was that our current BOE was almost at split vote to renew her contract. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Katy is well loved by most of the parental community, the kids who attend our schools, administrators, as well at our teachers. How could this be? I organized many parents to come to the BOE meetings and show our support for Katy. We had 80 parents show up to several meetings. We were made to wait hours to express our concerns. We spent a lot of time in front of this board telling them what we wanted as parents for our kids. And they still only gave her a one-year renewal. This after we clearly showed our support and explained what WE wanted. We are the parents and we vote these people in. Again, I couldn’t believe it. So, I began to try and learn more about what goes on behind the scenes. Why could something like this happen? What I learned is that there is a lot of dysfunctionality on our current board. It’s full of infighting, disagreements, personal agendas, board members not speaking to each other, some watching Mets games and online shopping during BOE meetings, and on and on it goes. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Outside of all of this, there has literally been no stability under their watch! Since many of them have been serving our community we have had the following changes over the past eight years alone:

 

Superintendents

Katy Graves

Carl Bonuso (Interim 2012-2014)

John Gratto (hired Jan 2008, resigned, June 2012)

Katherine Holden Resigned January 2008) “Left after disagreements with the Board of Education before her contract was set to expire.” Sag Harbor Express

Board of Education

Walter Wilcoxen-resigned July 2012 (Resigned at the same time a J. Grotto)

Gregg Schiavoni-resigned March 2013

  1. Harnett-resigned in July 2014. He moved out of the district

Mary Ann Miller-Declined to run for reelection

David Diskin-Declined to run for reelection

ED Drohan-Declined to run for reelection

Athletic Directors

Eric Bramoff

Donnelly McGovern

Todd Gulluscio

John Wayne Shierant

Mike Burns

Monty Granger

William Madsen

Nick DiCillis resigned in 2008

Business Officials

Carol Dray – resigned in April of 2016

John O’Keefe-resigned in June 2014

Janet Verneville-resigned in May 2012

Len Bernard-resigned in 2010

To summarize; that is four superintendents, six BOE members, seven athletic directors, and four business officials. This all in just eight years! This needs to change. It’s time for change. To help usher in change and try to get stability for our kids, a number of community members have gotten together to show support for three candidates who are running. Diana Kolhoff (current board president) who is re-running and by all standards is doing an amazing job. Diana is a well-respected community member and a strong leader of the current BOE. She deserves to continue to lead this group. Alex Kriegsman is a local lawyer and parent of three small children, and who, like many, wants to see the board become more functional. He wants the BOE to be more about the kids and the betterment of the school district. And finally, January Kerr, also a lawyer, who has small children and cares about the direction of our school system. Both January and Alex can put their legal educations to the task of helping the board manage through many of the legal and contractual issues that it will face in the coming years. In fact, we have a teacher’s contract coming up, and I can think of no better candidates to represent our kids and community than them. All of these three candidates bring a passion about working for the community AND our children’s best interests. There are no personal agendas with any of them. They truly care about fixing the lack of stability issue and making the BOE a more functional, transparent, and welcoming group, something that has been lacking for a long time around here. They also only care about what matters most to those who live in Sag Harbor and what will most benefit our children.

I am very appreciative of the time and effort by those who have served. This cannot be taken lightly. Serving on the BOE is a huge personal time commitment. Those who have served our children and our community deserve our appreciation. However, when personal agendas, clear instability at all levels of our administration, lack of transparency, in fighting, and politics that are ahead of our kid’s welfare are present, then it’s time for a change.

My vote is for Kolhoff, Kriegsman and Kerr.

Respectfully yours,

Larry Baum

North Haven

 

Time for a Change

Dear Editor,

The school board is an entity that I didn’t think much about until recently. But the more I learn about it, the more I realize that it has a lot of power over the most important thing in my life: my children.

The school board is responsible for the hiring and firing of teachers and administrators, for school-wide policies, and for choices about things like artificial turf or grass fields for our athletics departments.

But more importantly, the school board sets a tone for the whole district. Some members of the board have been serving for a long time, and while I appreciate all their devoted service, it feels like it’s time for a change. I hope that this election on Tuesday, May 16 will set a tone of respect. One that will be supportive of teachers and of our superintendent, Katy Graves. I hope that the new board will help to implement policies that support tolerance and diversity in explicit ways. I hope that members of the board will be able to work together, to listen to each other, and to be productive in the interest of our children.

I know January Kerr and Alex Kriegsman personally. Both lawyers, they are smart and efficient. But more importantly, they’re present and caring parents who are running for the school board for the right reasons. Our kids are all in second grade together: they have a long way to go in this school system and their interest is on making sure all Sag Harbor schools perform to their potential as supportive, challenging settings for education, growth, and respect.

Diana Kolhoff has done an excellent job as president of the School Board at a time when there was a great deal of tension, and I am sure she could accomplish much more with a healthy and cooperative school board. I would like to encourage all Sag Harbor residents to turn out and vote for January Kerr, Alex Kriegsman, and Diana Kolhoff for school board on May 16.

Thank you,

Emily J Weitz

Sag Harbor

 

A Trash-Free Campaign

Dear Editor,

My three-year term on the Sag Harbor School Board, and one year appointment as board president is up this June. At first, I was undecided as to whether I should seek re-election. But, I have been truly humbled by how many people have come forward to support me, and encourage me to run again. I do feel I can help continue the good work we have begun these last three years, and am honored to serve such a wonderful community. I have, however, decided to run a paperless, trash-free campaign, and here is why.

For the past four years, Mr. Malone, the elementary school principal, has let me do a short presentation in morning program around Earth Day. I educate our kids on environmental issues including our disposable culture of convenience, the resulting trash problem, and how it is accumulating in landfills and our oceans. Then I talk about ways we can all do little things to make a difference. I feel I must, in good conscience, do my part by not creating items what will soon become trash.

I will not be putting up yard signs, handing out buttons, or sending out mailers to our community. My hope is that those who support me are willing to spread the word, and come out to vote on May 16. Every vote counts!

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot,

Nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”  -Dr. Seuss

Thanks to everyone for your continued support!

Sincerely,

Diana Kolhoff

Sag Harbor

 

Heart’s in the Right Place

Dear Editor

Having been involved with Sandi Kruel for the last ten years I have learned that Sandi loves the community and children. She has done a tremendous job helping the Whalers and Hamptons Collegiate Baseball League grow with the connections she has developed with Major League Baseball and college coaches.

Sandi also was coaching Little League when we first started working together and I saw how she treated the young players. She cares about all the children in our community as she has shown in her work on the school board.

Sandi has hosted a large number of players since the beginning of the league and they keep in touch with her all the time and often come back to visit. Sandi is also the mom for the players from around the country and often makes doctors’ appointments as well as hair cutting appointments among many other things for the young men and their families when they come to visit.

Sandi and I don’t always agree, but the one thing I know is her heart is in the right place and she loves our community and the children in it and those that visit with our baseball family.

Sincerely,

Tom Gleeson

Co-GM Sag Harbor Whalers

 

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