BEDFORD, N.Y. -- At the stroke of midnight on Friday, seven positions that are fixtures at Bedford Central school board meetings changed hands. The following morning, all of the successors took their seats for the board's first meeting of the 2016-17 school year.
The newcomers include three board trustees, who were sworn in at the meeting. The trustees are Pam Harney, Michelle Brooks and Beth Staropoli.
The trio joined the board because they unseated incumbents Suzanne Grant, Jennifer Gerken and Michael Solomon, respectively. The ouster of the incumbents came amid a politically and financially charged atmosphere, as Bedford Central struggled to balance its budget and to close a roughly $8.8 million gap.
Meanwhile, the school board meeting included four new faces at the top administrators' table. Most notable was the arrival of Christopher Manno as the new superintendent; he was among those sworn in at the meeting.
Manno, whose employment officially started on Friday, is replacing John Chambers, who served as interim superintendent from November through Thursday, June 30. Chambers came to Bedford Central to fill a vacancy caused by the resignation of Jere Hochman, who left to take a state education department post.
Joining Manno were Greg Sullivan, the interim assistant superintendent for business; Joel Adelberg, the new assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction; and Stacey Haynsworth, the new director of human resources and professional development.
Sullivan replaced Mark Betz, who retired on Thursday after more than two decades of service. Adelberg, who previously served as Fox Lane High School's principal, replaced Drew Patrick, who resigned to take a similar position in Scarsdale. Haynsworth replaced Gina Healy, who was assistant superintendent for human resources.
Meanwhile, the newly constituted board approved the appointment of James D. Donnelly Jr. as the high school's interim principal; the term of employment began on Monday and will run until June 30, 2017. Donnelly, a biographical overview from the district states, has 31 years of public school experience, including as superintendent in the Lake Placid school district and as principal of Dolgeville Central Middle-Senior High School. He has also worked at Shorelight Education, Inc., serving as associate director for special projects.
Previous coverage on the leadership changes at Bedford Central can be read here.
The school board also filled its leadership posts, choosing trustee Colette Dow as president and trustee Brian Sheerin as vice president. Dow replaced Gerken, while Sheerin replaced trustee Ed Reder, who did not have enough votes to remain in the leadership.
Dow was approved by a vote of five members in favor, and with Reder voting against. Trustee Andrew Bracco was absent.
Staropoli nominated Reder for the presidency and the vice presidency but the proposals died because nobody was willing to section the motions.
Sheerin was approved for vice president by a vote of four votes in favor, with Reder voting against and Staropoli abstaining.
The swift approval of board trustees for leadership posts was in stark contrast to last July, when a stalemate occurred at the 2015 meeting to kick off the previous school year resulted. Gerken and Reder were subsequently approved by 4-3 votes later that month. The stalemate was caused because only six trustees were present for the first meeting.
Dow and Sheerin had been allies of Solomon on key matters, such as last year's leadership votes - they supported him in his bid for the presidency - and in voting against an earlier proposa=l for the 2016-17 budget. That plan included an override of the state-mandated tax cap, and was rejected at a May public vote because it failed to get a 60-percent supermajority. A revised budget that stayed under the cap and included $2.85 million of additional cuts, which the board backed unanimously, easily passed a month later.
Although Solomon lost his seat, he achieved an ideological and factional victory of sorts with the elections of Harney and Brooks, who campaigned with him on a ticket. The loss of Reder from the board's leadership is a sign of the shift in its balance of power.
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