People hoping to run for the New Paltz School Board just got some good news — another seat is open. Trustee Bob Rich announced March 21 that he’s resigning his seat effective June 30. “I wanted to make that announcement now so that the public, people who might be putting petitions in, will know that there’s going to be another board seat open,” Rich said.
According to President Rausch, the race would shake out this way: “So there will be three, three-year seats up. The lowest vote-getter would have a one-year term and will effectively have to run again in a year.”
Rich’s term is up at the end of June, 2013 — giving his replacement just one year in the seat before the re-election cycle begins anew.
Board Vice President KT Tobin and trustees Daniel Torres and Barbara Carroll have terms expiring at the end of this June. Carroll was appointed to the board to fill former President Don Kerr’s seat after his resignation in November. The appointee has said she does not plan to run, considering that she was brought in as a temporary replacement.
So far, none of the other incumbents have officially announced a run for the school board. That could potentially leave the race wide open. Two hopefuls, Brian Cournoyer and Dominick Profaci, have announced their intention to run via Facebook.
During last week’s meeting, Rich did not elaborate on why he decided to step down. However, he did explain his reasoning during a phone interview one day later.
A trail lawyer by trade, Rich said his work schedule had recently become demanding.
“I have a lot of work commitments,” he said. “Our firm, right now we’ve taken on some extra people, so there’s some mentoring involved. My schedule is just impossible.”
Outside of their two main meetings a month, school board members put in a lot of work behind the scenes as members of subcommittees. That equates to at least four to five in-depth board meetings a month.
“With the committees, it just got to the point where I didn’t feel like it was fair to everyone else on the board,” Rich said. “I just wasn’t able to do that. It just didn’t seem fair to everybody else for them to take on extra committee work. So I decided, better for somebody else to step in there who might have more time to do it.”
The attorney also pointed to his history with the Board of Education — he’d served for six years before his previous term ended in 2002, even making it to the rank of board president. Rich said he thought his stepping down could give a newcomer a chance to get on the board.
After years of struggling with budgets and making cuts, school boards have faced renewed budgetary challenges under the governor’s 2 percent cap. However, Rich said the intensity of 2012’s budget cycle did not prompt his decision — nor did a personality clash behind the scenes.
“It has absolutely nothing to do with other board members. I get along collegially with everybody on the board. I think we have a good working relationship,” he said, adding that he also had a good relationship with Superintendent Maria Rice. “So, no hard feelings or anything like that. It was just too much.” ++