After a public vetting, that drew more candidates than audience members, the Sag Harbor School Board of Education voted 6-0 to appoint Susan Schaefer to fill the vacant seat left by Thomas Schiavoni. She will be officially sworn in on January 22 during the board of education’s business meeting.
“The Board would like to thank the applicants who volunteered their time and expertise to this process,” it said in a release issued late Tuesday night. Other applicants included Laurie Marsden, former board president Susan Kinsella, Tom McErlean, Susan Schaefer, Yorgos Tsibiridis, Michael Hayes, Caleb Kercheval, and Gary Bierfriend.
Update: Monday, January 8, 10 p.m.
During its Monday night meeting, the Sag Harbor School Board of Education revealed the list of eight district residents who have thrown their hats in the ring to take the seat vacated by Thomas John Schiavoni, who resigned from the board last month after winning election to the Southampton Town Board.
A majority of the board also said it would consider questions from the public during an interview of seven of the eight potential board members, which will take place Tuesday, January 9 at 6:30 p.m. in the Pierson High School Library. Michael Hayes, Caleb Kercheval, former board president Susan Kinsella, Laurie Marsden, Tom McErlean, Susan G. Schaefer and Yorgos Tsibiridis will be interviewed by the board of education during the session, which it decided late last month to make a public session. Gary Bierfriend will be unable to attend the forum Tuesday, but also sent a letter of interest to the school board regarding the empty board seat.
On Monday night, in a 4-2 vote, the board also agreed they would consider questions from the public at the forum, although the questions would be vetted by board members and would need to apply to all candidates similar to a traditional debate structure. Board member Susan Lamontagne suggested the idea, which was ultimately supported by Stephanie Bitis, Alex Kriegsman and Chris Tice, with board president Diana Kolhoff and board Vice President January Kerr voting against the motion.
The Sag Harbor School Board has announced it will publicly interview candidates for a vacant school board seat on Tuesday, January 9, during a special public board meeting in the Pierson Middle-High School library at 6:30 p.m.
The board intends to appoint a person to fill the vacancy during its regularly scheduled January 22 business meeting.
According to district clerk Victoria Handy, seven candidates submitted letters of interest as appointees.
The Tuesday special meeting announcement came on Monday, the day before the public interview special meeting is to be held, and its time and date was announced before the deadline for submitting letters of interest had passed, which was at noon on January 8.
The district’s actions came under criticism Monday by some community members.
In an email to The Sag Harbor Express, resident Aura Winarick called the district’s initial attempt to inform residents “a cryptic message,” suggested the Tuesday interviews were scheduled on too short notice and said the nature of the information was hard to find on the district’s website.
“I know that this is not a vote, but the voting public certainly deserves to have the opportunity to attend this public and very important event,” Ms. Winarick said. “With the deadline for letters today, isn’t it possible that those folks need more notice as well? Why one day’s notice and no information or inclusion? Pretty sure we can do better.”
The school district later updated its website and sent out a more detailed email blast with additional information.