By Tessa Raebeck
In the midst of negotiations, resignations and withdrawals, six school board candidates remain in the race for four spots on the Sag Harbor Board of Education (BOE). The election is May 21 and the candidates – incumbents Edward Drohan, Susan Kinsella and Chris Tice, and challengers David Diskin, Thomas Ré and Daniel Hartnett — are vying for two full, three-year terms, as well the unexpired two-year terms left open after Gregg Schiavoni’s resignation in March and Walter Wilcoxen’s resignation last summer.
The top two vote-getters will receive full terms on the board beginning July 1. The third and fourth place candidates will take Schaivoni and Wilcoxen’s vacated seats immediately following the election and serve until June 30, 2015.
Edward Drohan has been a summer resident of Sag Harbor since 1978 and a permanent Noyac resident since 2006. He has a grandson who attends Sag Harbor Elementary School. He spent over 40 years in the data processing industry and his background includes positions ranging from sales to management.
Drohan has been a member of the school’s budget advisory committee and the Noyac Civil Council. He was elected to the school board in 2010 in an unchallenged race. During his time on the board, Drohan supported implementation of universal pre-k and the International Baccalaureate (IB) program. He said this week he emphasizes the importance of bilingual education and an improved computer science curriculum to adequately prepare students for today’s job market.
Like Drohan, Chris Tice was also elected to the board in an uncontested 2010 race. The daughter of Walter Tice, former BOE president, she comes from a family of educators. Tice has three daughters in the district. She worked as a publishing and new media executive before relocating to Sag Harbor full time in 2004. She currently works as a realtor in Corcoran’s Sag Harbor office.
Tice served as president of the Parent Teacher Association (PTA), a member of the school’s community coalition, and a past board officer of the Sag Harbor Chamber of Commerce. During her time on the BOE, Tice has supported implementation of IB and universal Pre-K programs, programs to generate greater fiscal health and two budgets.
“For the second year in a row,” said Tice, “the district is putting forth a budget that comes below the tax cap and yet maintains the educational program and results in no staff layoffs.”
Following Walter Wilcoxen’s resignation in July 2012, Southampton native and longtime Sag Harbor resident Susan Kinsella was appointed last October to take his seat for the remainder of the first year of his three-year term. She also served on the board from 2006 and 2009.
Kinsella graduated from Southampton High School and received her BS in Business Administration from Adelphi University. After receiving CPA certification, Kinsella worked as a financial statement auditor and as a supervisory accountant. Following the birth of her second child in 2001, Kinsella left the workforce and moved to Sag Harbor permanently. She has two children at Pierson Middle/High School.
Kinsella served as president of the PTA, was active on the John Jermain Community Library Committee and is currently a member of the Mashashimuet Park Board. She maintains the biggest challenges facing the BOE in the next three years are forming the budget and hiring a new superintendent.
“It’s going to be more and more difficult for us to continue with the program that we have when some of our expenses are increasing at rates of 16 percent and the majority of our revenue is capped at 2 percent,” said Kinsella.
Challenger David Diskin agrees that fiscal management will pose a challenge to the board during the upcoming term.
Born in Western Canada to American parents, Diskin has lived full time in Sag Harbor for 14 years and is the founder of Artivise Inc., a design company based in Bridgehampton. He has served on the board of the squash program at Southampton Youth Services (SYS) and is a board member of Temple Adas Israel in Sag Harbor. Diskin has also served on staff selection committees in the Sag Harbor school district and the former building and grounds committee. Currently, he is a member of the audit committee.
“I have extensive knowledge of the school’s operation and am well acquainted with all current board members,” said Diskin who has voiced support for the IB program, transparency between the administration and the community, and the preservation of enrichment and after school programs.
Having served two terms on the BOE in 2005 and 2011, challenger Daniel Hartnett hopes to return to his former position.
“I feel the time is right to return and offer my experience and skills in building consensus to address the critical issues that Sag Harbor schools are facing in the context of the mandated two percent cap on the tax levy,” Hartnett said in a letter to The Express.
A native of New York City, Hartnett has lived on the East End for 20 years, the last 15 in Sag Harbor and has worked as a classroom teacher and an administrator. In his 35th year as an educator, Hartnett works as the bilingual social worker in the East Hampton school district. His youngest child is in ninth grade at Pierson.
Hartnett serves on the district’s audit committee and on the board of Immigration Legal Services of Long Island. He moonlights as guitarist and singer at Bridgehampton’s Queen of the Most Holy Rosary Church and at St. Andrew’s Church in Sag Harbor.
The final challenger in the BOE race is attorney Thomas Ré. A practicing lawyer for over 35 years, Ré has been a homeowner in the district for almost 20 years and a full time resident since 2010. His daughter is in the ninth grade at Pierson.
“As a lawyer experienced in contract negotiations and mediation and arbitration, I may be able to add substantial value,” Ré said.
Ré is a volunteer at the Bridgehampton Child Day Care Center, St. Andrew’s Church, the Knights of Columbus Sag Harbor Council, the BOE Committee on Long Range Planning and the Sag Harbor Community Coalition to Reduce Alcohol and Drug Use by our Youth. In 2010, he received the award of the Order of the Knights of Malta.
Ré says he is committed to “essential” communication between the BOE and the community, developing ways to create additional revenue, enacting sample IB programs to prepare ninth and tenth grade students and fostering understandings with teachers.
“In addition to my legal background, I have no specific agenda other than serving, helping, and working at the tasks and challenges that face the board in our love of our children and helping our community,” he said.
A “Meet the Candidates” forum is May 10 at 7 p.m. in the elementary school gym. The BOE election and budget vote is May 21 from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. in Pierson High School gymnasium.