School Board Election Not Attracting Candidates as Deadline Approaches

Current Board of Education: (L-R) Gillian Thorpe, Joe Curto, Mike Junjulas, Peter Henderson and Evan Schwartz

Veteran teacher hired as long-term substitute to replace Sayers

By Michael Turton

In addition to the “yes” or “no” vote on the proposed Haldane Central School District 2012-13 budget to be held on May 15, Philipstown residents will also be asked elect school board trustees. Thus far it’s a two-man race. The problem is there are three seats to be contested. Veteran trustee Evan Schwartz and Peter Henderson, appointed to the board to fill the seat vacated by former board president Dave Merandy, are both running. However, with current board President Joe Curto having announced he will step down – no third party has yet come forward to vie for that seat. The deadline for submitting the petitions required in order to run is 5 p.m. Monday April 16.

When Henderson was appointed trustee in late January of this year, he beat out three other residents who had also expressed interest in the position and were interviewed by school board members. Current trustees lauded all four candidates as being very well qualified and there was speculation that the May election could be a multi-candidate race. That has not happened – at least not yet. In the past, candidates have been known to wait literally until the last minute before submitting the required forms.

“As of this morning (April 12) there wasn’t a third candidate,” Curto said when contacted by after the board’s April 10 meeting. “We really should have at least three candidates and having more than three would be good – there could be a debate then.” Curto said a couple of people have “shown interest” and that in the past someone has usually stepped forward. “The forms are nothing – I think you need 25 people to sign your petition – and that gets you on the ballot. But the deadline is 5 p.m. sharp – not 5:01,” he said. Forms are available at the district clerk’s office on the Haldane campus.

Dennis Cairl “un-retires” – replaces Sayer
Veteran teacher Dennis Cairl has been appointed as a long-term substitute to teach social studies at Haldane High School, effective April 10. Cairl, who only retired in 2011, replaces Joseph Sayers who was placed on administrative leave after being charged with attempted dissemination of indecent material to minors. Sayers was arrested on April 3 and could face up to four years in prison if convicted.  [See Arrested Haldane Teacher Will Not Return to Classroom While Charges Pending]

Curto praised Cairl for coming back to Haldane. “I want to say thank you to Dennis. He is the epitome of what a great teacher is. He’s an absolute gentleman and a great guy,” he said. “And the kids are pretty happy as well.”

Alluding to the arrest of Sayers and the anguish it caused in the Haldane community, Curto said, “This is a great school, with a lot of great people. I want to thank Mark [Villanti – superintendent of schools] and Brian [Alm – high school principal] for being so proactive in getting the information out to the public.”

Villanti, who was noticeably more subdued than usual, said that within minutes of the announcement of Sayers’ arrest, Channel 12 Television arrived on Haldane’s campus. “It’s the world we live in,” he said. “Students are not trained in how to handle having a microphone shoved in their face.” He thanked the Putnam County News and Recorder and for having reported the incident accurately and without speculation. “Now we can move ahead. There’s still a lot left to accomplish in the school year.”

Coincidentally, the school board will hold a public hearing, updating policy regarding the Children’s Internet Protection Act, at its May 15 workshop. Sayers’ alleged crime took place via the internet.

In other  business

  • The April 10 school board agenda also included approval of the proposed 2012-13 budget and a report on a plan to move forward with improvements to Haldane’s main sports field and indoor facilities. Watch for additional coverage of those issues on in the days ahead.
  • School will be in session on (Friday) April 27 due to a change in the test scoring day made by the New York State Department of Education. The scoring day had previously been scheduled to take place in May.
  • There will be no school on Friday, May 25, a “give back day” as a result of unused snow days.
  • The Blue Devil Booster Club will hold a car show fundraiser on campus on (Sunday) May 20. One hundred vehicles are expected. Vehicles being shown will be admitted on a first-come first-served basis as space permits.
  • The Fine Arts Award Ceremony has been changed to (Thursday) May 24.
  • Tenure for nine teachers was approved, effective Sept. 1, 2012.

Photo courtesy of Haldane

One thought on “School Board Election Not Attracting Candidates as Deadline Approaches

  1. I’ve submitted my name this morning as a candidate for the Haldane Board of Education. Looking forward to hopefully being elected and serving the community