Kerr Resigns from Sag Harbor School Board

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District clerk Victoria Handy, right, administers the oath of office to January Kerr on July 9. Christine Sampson photo

January Kerr, a second-year Sag Harbor School Board member who had been chosen by her colleagues as school board president this year, resigned from the school board on Thursday.

According to Diana Kolhoff, who was elected new board president at the start of Monday’s school board meeting, Ms. Kerr had submitted a letter of resignation “with a heavy heart,” leading to a vacancy on the board.

Ms. Kerr’s resignation creates the second board vacancy in the span of two years; Tommy John Schiavoni departed the Sag Harbor School Board last December after being elected to the Southampton Town Council.

Ms. Kerr, who had approximately a year and a half left on her term, said on Monday night she feels the district “is in great hands.”

“I made the difficult decision to step away from the board and the presidency so I can spend more time with my family,” she said.

On Wednesday, superintendent Katy Graves thanked Ms. Kerr for her service.

“She really worked very hard and was a very thoughtful leader, but the Board of Education in a district that’s working so hard to accomplish so much is very time consuming,” Ms. Graves said. “I understand you have to have priorities and her priority is her family.”

Ms. Kolhoff served two years as board president before returning to the role Monday by a 6-0 vote of the board.

“You’re really experienced, you’re really nice and I think the board will be in good hands,” board member Susan Lamontagne told Ms. Kolhoff, who agreed to return to the post on a short-term basis.

Jordana Sobey, who was elected in May to her first term on the board, was unanimously chosen as school board vice president.

“She is very new to the board, I realize that, but every time she speaks, I think about things a little bit differently,” Ms. Kolhoff said of Ms. Sobey. “I think she is a huge asset.”

The school board voted 6-0 Monday night to appoint a new member on or around February 11, 2019, using the same process it used last year to fill Mr. Schiavoni’s seat. That process involved seeking letters of candidacy from interested community members, an interview process in which all candidates were in attendance to answer the same set of questions during one school board work session, and finally the appointment of a candidate.

“I think the procedure we did last time worked very well,” board member Alex Kriegsman said Monday. “It’s not a good thing to leave a vacant seat.”

Some board members who agreed with him cited the board’s recent difficulties obtaining a quorum for meetings as a good reason to make an appointment rather than leave the seat vacant. Meetings originally slated for December 3 and December 10 had been canceled.

The person whom the school board ultimately chooses will serve approximately three months until the next school board general election in May, at which point a formally elected board member will emerge from among the pool of candidates running for office.

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