The Katonah-Lewisboro school board kicked-off the new school year with the official installation of some new and familiar faces during Thursday’s reorganizational meeting.
The school board voted unanimously to elect Mark Lipton as its president and Janet Harkham as vice president. Lipton, who served as vice president last year, will now take the role the was previously filled by Michael Gordon.
Charles Day, who was elected to the board of education seat formerly held by Eve Hundt in June, and Jeremy Sabath, this year’s student school board member, were also administered oaths of office by Kim Monzon, the school clerk.
Lipton said that he looked forward to the opportunity of serving as the board president and he promised to represent the views of all the board’s members.
“We all owe a thank you to our now former president, Mike Gordon,” said Lipton, who is serving his second term on the school board. “Mike’s efforts as board president were tireless on our behalf for two years. Watching and learning from you, Mike, as your vice president this last year is the experience that makes me think I may be able to handle this responsibility. I applaud the impressive work that you have done as our leader.”
Lipton also said gave special thanks to his daughter, Miranda, who is in the eighth grade.
“You are the true inspiration for all I do on this board and in life,” Lipton said. “You have surrounded yourself and us with an amazing group of friends, most of whom are the students of this school district, and it is in your name that I gladly serve all of our students.”
Gordon said that he is confident that Lipton will continue to keep the board moving in a productive direction.
“Complacency is like a warm blanket on a cold winter morning—easy to slip in to, tough to get out of,” Gordon said. “The board president gets to be the one to rip off the covers and get the rest of the board moving, even when there are a host of reasons to stay in that nice warm bed. This part of the job is the least desirable, but I’m confident again, that Mark will handle it without a problem.”
Monzon also administered oaths of office to Superintendent Paul Kreutzer, Assistant Superintendent for Business Michael Jumper, Assistant Superintendent for Instruction Alice Cronin and Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources Carol Ann Lee.
New committees discussed
The board also discussed the feasibility of setting new sub-committees for curriculum and special education.
The idea for a special education sub-committee was brought up in May when Linda Schulter, the district’s interim director of special services, presented the district’s special education plan.
“This is something that came out of my experience seven years ago (as a board member) in Bedford,” said Warren Schloat, a member of the board of education. “Each board member rotated through the monthly meeting of the special education committee when they reviewed all the various folders that were up at the time. I found it to be a very helpful, interesting, informative process and it gave me a much better understanding of the issues in special education and I think we would all profit from something like that.”
Lipton said he isn’t sure if the board needs another standing committee, but he feels that it would be a good idea for the board to receive more training when it came to the issues surrounding special education.
“We get these (special education) reports and they are basically blanks,” Lipton said. “We don’t know much about what’s really going on in there.”
Board Member Peter Treyz wondered in there was a way to set a up a board committee that could address the litigation that frequently comes up in special education.
“Is there way that we can have board committee to be the ombudsman, so to speak, between the lawyers and the parents and see if we can make the litigation a lower number over the next year or the whole future?” Treyz asked.
Kreutzer said the administration has had internal discussions on ways the the district can address the needs of its neediest students. He said that there has been a concern about the level of familiarity that the board has on the subject of special education, especially with the district making the shift to the state’s new response-to-intervention standards.
“I think if we took a little time during the (board of education) retreat to address that topic and took some time to allow the administration to address that, we could probably get to the basis of where you’re trying to get to,” Kreutzer said. “What it sounds like right now is that you’re having a discussion about the means, when what I’d like to the board to do is concentrate on the ends.”
Lipton suggested the board wait and discuss the matter some more with administrators before making a decision.
The board also decided to not more forward with plans to develop a curriculum committee. Board Member Peter Breslin said the board had curriculum committee years ago, but it was dismantled because board members thought the work was redundant.
“We thought the administration was doing a good enough job and was keeping us informed to the point that we need to be informed,” Breslin said.
The next board meeting is scheduled for July 28, 2011 at the John Jay High School Library.