Letters to the Editor: June 4, 2020


Makes The Grade

When choosing a school board candidate, voters should measure that candidate against the key criteria needed to be an effective board member. They should ask if the candidate will:

1. Focus on student achievement.

2. Use data to make informed decisions.

3. Understand fiscal responsibility.

4. Watch return on taxpayers’ investment.

5. Engage the community.

I believe that Sandi Kruel is the one candidate who will exceed expectations on all five characteristics. She, more than any other candidate, has the history, knowledge, experience, passion and strength of character to outshine all candidates in every category.

The capital “S” in Sandi could stand for “students.” She knows the mission of the school district is to educate every student and insists on academic excellence for all. She voted for Advanced Placement courses, smaller class size, Spanish K-12 and the IB Program. She supported the hiring of the best candidates and willingly paid for that quality.

She helped pass major building projects to give students state-of-the-art learning facilities. She voted to increase co-curricular programs in art, theater, music, science and travel.

Her commitment to athletics is legendary. The middle school gym, Pierson fields, tennis and volleyball teams are a few of her contributions. Sandi envisions a school district that educates her three sons, and all students, as a whole person: mind, spirit and body. To quote David Brooks, Sandi Kruel believes schools should produce young people who are “acceptable at a dance; invaluable in a shipwreck.”

Sandi knows that budgets reflect the school mission. For 20 years, she has been involved with the budget process. She is a bulldog when it comes to spending taxpayer money. Her famous line is, “Which services are we providing for students, at what cost, and what benefit?” Sandi will spend money but questions every penny spent.

Sandi wants the Sag Harbor community and parents involved. Students need their parents, and the district needs all its members to share in shaping the vision, goals and priorities of the district.

Board members also must display character. Sandi is a loving wife, devoted mother, true friend. She is a natural born leader, independent thinker and strong communicator. She is honorable, confidential and can be trusted with sensitive executive session issues. She possesses a relentless work ethic and studies agendas, policies, contracts and the law.

Being a board member isn’t easy. Issues may be controversial and messy. Yet, it is one of the most important jobs in our American democracy. Sandi gets an A++ on the requirements needed to be an effective board member.

The world, nation and schools face serious issues today. Boards need serious people for serious times. The Sag Harbor School District needs Sandi Kruel.

Kathryn Holden

Sag Harbor

Ms. Holden is the former superintendent of the Sag Harbor School District — Ed.

Vote For Ron

We are writing to share our enthusiastic support for Ron Reed in the upcoming Sag Harbor School Board election.

In the two years since he moved to the area with his family, he has become a powerful voice advocating for the interests of the students of Sag Harbor. He immediately joined the Facilities Committee, where his background as an architect working for a firm handling huge infrastructure projects — such as the new terminal at LaGuardia Airport, where he was lead design build manager for terminal design — allowed him to contribute his unique and extensive expertise.

We feel that, as a candidate running for the School Board position, his priorities align with those of many of the other families at the school. He appreciates the unique character of our school: He is often heard saying how our local public school rivals many of the New York City private schools in the care and attention it devotes to each individual student. He cares deeply about retaining this special quality in our school.

Ron Reed also believes in making sure standards for academic rigor are pushed to allow our children to have the best education possible in order to ensure their future success.

We stand behind Ron, whose endearingly cheerful and friendly disposition, combined with his drive and enthusiasm, make for a candidate that the school would be fortunate to have representing the student body’s interests.

We urge you to vote for Ron.

Felix and Claire Bird

Sag Harbor

Student Achievement

I am urging the community to place Helen Roussel on the Sag Harbor School District’s Board of Education in this coming election.

Yes, we have come through a time of everyone feeling the financial and educational impact of the COVID-19 virus, the need to complete and open the Sag Harbor (Stella Maris) Learning Center, and the board’s work on contracts and budgets, including the recent hiring of a school superintendent. However, we must balance our board so as to have individuals representing not only the business community but also individuals whose backgrounds and interests are more on the academic side, and student achievement.

Our school system has been seriously lagging in student assessment, program development and teacher training. Long-term academic goals, including timelines to meet those goals, must be established. It is essential that we monitor student data, even when the information is negative, and use that data to drive continuous improvement.

The Center for Public Education lists the “Eight Characteristics of Effective School Boards.” This document can be found on the Sag Harbor School website. Important to note that the first three characteristics cited are all concerned with student achievement!

Helen has three children in the Sag Harbor schools and has been actively involved by serving on the board of the Sag Harbor Elementary School PTA. She was part of the campaign against toxic turf and has organized water testing workshops for the school in collaboration with the Surfrider Foundation.

She plans to promote increased environmental science and renewable-energy projects to expose students to the fastest-growing industry in the country. She will also investigate energy sustainability at the school. She is an environmentalist and was voted onto the board of the Sierra Club Long Island.

Helen founded a nonprofit organization to increase literacy levels in the state. Last year, she testified at the Joint Legislative Public Hearing in Albany and has been an active educational advocate at the school, organizing professional development for teachers and psychologists via the Peconic Teachers Center. She has served on the board of East End Special Education PTO.

She understands that low literacy levels are not confined to special education students; 52 percent of general education students read below grade level.

If elected, she will encourage support for teachers so that they have the tools to improve achievement levels for all students, including those with learning disabilities, without straining the budget. Students with strong reading, writing and organizational skills utilize less remedial resources, sustain confidence and more easily adapt to the rigors of higher education.

It is imperative that we support a candidate with a vision of high expectations for student achievement and quality instruction. Please put Helen Roussel on the Board of Education

Robert Cohen, Ph.D.

Sag Harbor

A Role Model

Sandi Kruel is a very productive and professional woman who dedicates her time to very important things. She has been a role model for me and many others in the Sag Harbor community. I have seen her organize and facilitate school events with conviction, expertise and immense passion.

I feel in my heart, that she is an asset to have on the Sag Harbor Board of Education.

Christopher Capalbo

Sag Harbor

Gets The Job Done

Being a mother of premature twins with needs and entering a new school district was very scary. A relative of mine told Sandi Kruel of my fears, and she called me. She took our whole family under her wing.

Sandi didn’t have to make the phone call and offer her assistance, but she did. The phone call came from a giving heart, mother to mother, parent to parent.

As a family, we are grateful for all of the help Sandi had given us over those years.

We casually told Sandi we wanted to visit a few colleges in Connecticut. No sooner did we book our ferry when we had tour guides for the colleges calling to ask when would be there. It was very short notice, but she made this happen. Not because it was a requirement, but because she wanted to assist us. My kids felt as if they were on a pedestal.

If it was a jam-packed Friday night at the gym, Sandi would be there shouting with team spirit. If it was Spirit Night, Sandi would be there encouraging everyone to do their best. Kids and young adults are drawn to Sandi. Sandi speaks for them, and to them.

These are just examples of her “can-do attitude” that make her an asset to the school district, as she is someone who really wants to help the children in our community. I have worked with Sandi on many professional projects over the years, and she puts in 110 percent, as she did just recently with the Sag Harbor Helpers.

She is the voice for your kids and the parents. She will get the job done. She researches everything and makes the best, educated decision that will benefit all parties.

I recommend, without hesitation, Sandi Kruel for the Sag Harbor School Board.

Cindy Capalbo

Sag Harbor

A Senior For Sandi

As a senior at Pierson High School who has grown up in Sag Harbor, I have watched, over the years, Sandi Kruel work on behalf of the students in our district in so many ways. Whether it’s advocating for new programs, cheering for our sports teams, being there for every play and art program, or simply as a parent whom kids rely on for help and support — she is always there for us.

This is why I endorse Sandi Kruel for the Sag Harbor Board of Education. She is kind, reliable, honest and one of the most hardworking people you will ever meet. Bottom line: Sandi Kruel is good for kids.

I fully trust Sandi Kruel to work on behalf of all of the students in our district and use her voice and knowledge to get things done. Her level of commitment to the children of this community is unmatched, and she constantly takes the time to make a difference.

I believe that a vote for Sandi is a vote for a better future for the youth of Sag Harbor. Please join me supporting Sandi Kruel for the School Board!

Samantha Cox

Sag Harbor

Extraordinary Work

With so much bad news, it’s easy to forget that real change begins at school!

Sag Harbor School District residents will have received a vote-by-mail ballot for the School Board election. Sag Harbor has a great opportunity to elect Helen Roussel to its School Board.

I have known Helen and her children for many years. She is friendly, caring, and passionate and informed about education, the environment, and smart budgeting.

She has done extraordinary work advocating for more attention to identifying and remediating reading disorders (like dyslexia) early in public schools. This saves children years of misery and frustration. (And saves school taxes — so much easier to help young students, before “failure” becomes a pattern.)

She is an educated and active environmentalist, and will review district programs and buildings accordingly. This will benefit both schools and the village, practically and economically. And she will both model and advocate for green education at all levels. (Green jobs will be the biggest employment source in future decades.)

Carol Williams

Sag Harbor

Moving Forward

Elections matter. After six years on the board, about four of those years on the leadership team as president or vice president, I know just how important this vote is.

Upon my retirement from the Sag Harbor Board of Education, there are seats that need to be filled that will make a difference for our children and our community. I want to take a few minutes to share my experience and my thoughts.

Vote Alex Kriegsman. This is an easy one for me. Alex’s unwavering support for children, our community, teachers, administrators and me as board president has made him a great ally as we worked toward improving education. I am proud of the work we have done together to improve the relationship between the board and educators and the public. Together, we launched Lead Teachers, a middle school principal, the PLANT Program, cellphone policy.

We increased transparency by drastically reducing the number of executive sessions and changing the rules for public input. We settled multiple responsible contracts and put up a balanced budget year after year, increasing our bond rating and fiscal health.

I am glad that Alex has agreed to run for another term.

Vote Ron Reed. Ron has impressed me and other members of our community with his Facilities Committee work. He is well-rounded, bright, a good listener, and no stranger to collaboration, volunteerism and hard work. I also learned that he shares my same passions for children and the community, sidewalk improvement, and building a positive relationship with Sag Harbor Village. I believe he has the disposition to work in a positive manner within a strong team to lead this district into the future.

Lastly, vote Brian DeSesa. Brian has a proven track record as a current board member. He is intelligent, level-headed and well-prepared to be a team player.

Ultimately, my biggest concern is that we send the board reeling back to the days marred by bullying, infighting and contentious relationships with teachers, administrators, and the village. In the past, we have lost great employees, from top to bottom, due to the unbecoming behavior of a few board members getting lost in the weeds of micromanagement.

I am so proud of the progress we have made. Our district has come too far to take a giant step backward.

As we move forward in an unknown world with COVID-19. I am proud to endorse candidates that are child-centered, wise, caring, well-rounded, and can take decisive action to protect our children. We have a board that is working well as a team, so I encourage you to vote yes on the budget, and I wholeheartedly encourage you to vote for Alex Kriegsman, Ron Reed and Brian DeSesa.

Diana Kolhoff

Sag Harbor

Excellent Choice

I am thrilled that Helen Roussel is running for the Sag Harbor Board of Education. I fully endorse Helen, as she would be an excellent choice for many reasons.

As I know her as an environmental activist, Helen has always been unafraid to ask questions and understands the scientific data.

Through her work in the field of educational advocacy, she founded a charity to improve outcomes for students at public schools. Helen’s data-driven strategies will save taxpayers dollars, keep children safe, and make the school more transparent and accountable.

She has my vote.

Jean Held

Sag Harbor

Starts With Schools

If you live in the Sag Harbor School District, I urge you to please vote for newcomers Ron Reed and Helen Roussel for School Board. We desperately need change.

I am sad to say that for the first time in over 40 years of voting, I will vote against the school budget. I am doing this to protest the direction that the school district has been going, its out-of-control spending, and its refusal to address the issues that matter. I urge you to do the same.

Our school is inefficient, expensive and performing under potential for the money spent. Sag Harbor spends an astronomical $41,000 per student every year, compared with $25,000 for New York State, and about $12,000 nationally. We spend like a wealthy private school in Connecticut, but without particularly impressive results.

For a new superintendent, we needed a dynamic, visionary leader with broad experience outside our provincial, ingrown district. The School Board’s uninspired choice meets none of these essential criteria, while locking in a five-year contract costing $265,000 annually, a total package with benefits worth more than $1.5 million. The contract does not define a clear exit for poor performance.

The district does a poor job of defining and measuring success; it is opaque with ill-defined and unmeasurable goals. Most taxpayers do not have a sense of where the money comes from, to what purpose it is spent, how and whether district goals have been rationally set, or whether they are achieved.

The board has done next to nothing to address the inefficiencies of a small, insular school district. Long Island has not only the most racially segregated school districts in the United States but also the smallest (the two are related). The idea of one costly superintendent overseeing 900 students is indefensible.

At best, we should try to merge with neighboring school districts, and at the least seek more shared services and joint educational programs.

The district has failed to address the diverse needs for employment readiness right here on the South Fork. Many of us lobbied for the acquisition of the Stella Maris property with the expectation that it would support vocational education. This option has not even been considered by the School Board.

Sag Harbor has enough resources to be a truly great school district. It is time to shake things up. We must build a forward-thinking, progressive school district that can give our students the tools to build a green economy, a more just society, and a nation more peacefully integrated into the global community.

When I see our district setting goals to achieve such a direction, with efficiency and purpose, I will be glad to once again rally support.

Ken Dorph

Sag Harbor

Keep A Journal

In this time of the pandemic, I have been thinking about the past and wondering how did certain things get done without … a typewriter, telephone, computer, next-day delivery. The 1918 pandemic and how the village dealt with it.

We have been a community trapped and forced to slow down. What are the thoughts that have gone through our heads?

The Historical Society is asking that anyone who wishes to journal your thoughts, fears and reactions to please send an email to sagharborhist@gmail.com for our blog. Keeping a journal for our community is part of what we are about. If you wish to see what others have journaled, go to our website at sagharborhistorical.org.

The Sag Harbor Historical Society is doing the best it can during this difficult time and would hope that sometime this summer we will be able to open our doors to the public. We had to cancel our annual fundraiser and annual meeting due to the virus, but we will hope to have our summer exhibit on our website and Facebook.

We are feeling the loss financially but need to move forward and would appreciate any donation you might be able to send to SHHS, Box 1709, Sag Harbor.

Stay safe and well.

Nancy French Achenbach


Sag Harbor Historical Society

Choose Fleming

Democrats, we will soon choose the person we want to be our next representative in Congress. We must choose Bridget Fleming.

We want someone who will truly represent the people of the East End in Washington, D.C., someone who cares about us and the issues important to us. Bridget Fleming is that person.

We want someone with a proven record of getting things done for eastern Long Island as a member of the Suffolk County Legislature and, before that, on the Southampton Town Council. Bridget Fleming is that person.

We want someone who has a history of winning our votes in Suffolk County and who is capable of winning this crucial year. Bridget Fleming is that person.

Please join me and vote for Bridget Fleming in the Democratic primary on June 23. Early voting is available from Saturday, June 13, to Sunday, June 21. Voting by mail is also available to everyone this year. The last day to request an absentee ballot by mail is Tuesday, June 16.

Other candidates also seek the nomination in this primary. We appreciate their abilities and efforts. Their presence and discussion of the issues helps put the spotlight on the need to change who represents us in Congress. Make sure that change happens with your vote for Bridget Fleming.

For more information go to https://flemingfornewyork.com.

Sally Pope